There’s nothing like summertime in Irvine — here are our tips for the season’s best outdoor activities
Nestled in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Country, Irvine is a haven for outdoor lovers. Local legends say this is where Daniel Boone first experienced Kentucky’s amazing appeal. Irvine is in Estill County — an area known for its rich history, scenic attractions and outdoor recreation opportunities. Enjoy exploring the surroundings and taking in the natural beauty of the region. Get outside and experience family activities, ranging from hiking and biking to camping and climbing, at five of the area’s top attractions.
Red River Gorge
Located less than an hour’s drive from Irvine, Red River Gorge is a favorite spot among locals. With its sandstone arches, lush forest and towering cliffs, Red River Gorge is often called “Kentucky’s best-kept secret.” Meander along trails and fields of wildflowers. Keep your camera ready to capture some of the magic while touring the 100+ sandstone arches or the views while climbing.
If you’ve never seen a 60-foot tall furnace, this next attraction might be for you. The Fitchburg Furnace is operated by the U.S. Park Service — and although it’s more than 150 years old, it’s still in excellent shape. Also called the Red River Furnace, this sandstone mass originated as a result of greed and speculation during the western railroad boom of the 1860’s. The furnace closed just a few years later in the Panic of 1873. However, it remains a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts in the Irvine area.
Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail
Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail is just a little over an hour away from Irvine in East Bernstadt. The Irvine area is known for its outdoor activities. This one is ideal for anyone who wants to learn more about Daniel Boone’s history after his capture by the Shawnee Indians. The location is famous for its beautiful hemlock gorges and piney summits. The trail spans 319 miles across Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area to the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Flat Lick Falls
Flat Lick Falls is a gem located in Gray Hawk, Kentucky. It’s just under an hour’s drive from Irvine. Are you feeling adventurous? Try the dirt path that leads up to the top of the falls. Otherwise, most of the trails are easy, scenic and perfect for family activities in Flat Lick Falls Recreational and Scenic Area.
Lily Mountain Nature Preserve
If you’re looking for outdoor activities, Irvine’s own Lily Mountain Nature Preserve offers 350 acres of hiking trails and open woodlands. It’s great for family activities and exploring Irvine’s beautiful natural surroundings. Hikers love to visit this spot to enjoy great views and trails of varying difficulty levels.
Part of the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail leads visitors through War Fork Gorge. This area is home to Resurgence Cave. The cave marks the spot where an old homesite, the gorge and a stream all meet. It’s in a pretty valley. A campground is nearby for anyone interested in camping in the area. The 4.7-mile trail is suited for hikers of all skill levels, including leashed dogs. Wildflowers and pretty scenery are some of the main draws here.
For outdoor adventurers, nearby Wind Cave is also a favorite. This natural wonder might be the spot where Johnathan Swift’s famous lost silver mine hides. Legend says that it’s where Swift may have lived during the late 1700s.
If you aren’t already leading an active lifestyle, consider getting a checkup before you head out to enjoy family activities and adventures in the Irvine area. Visit Mercy.com today to make an appointment with a primary care doctor or specialist.
Interested in more stories like this? Our Summer Survival Guide is full of healthy living tips to start your summer right. Learn more here.