Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area has changed hands a number of times since its inception in the 1930s, and was briefly closed between 2009 and 2011. Since its reopening under the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife, the park has seen a number of improvements. Today, Otter Creek—named for a tributary to the Ohio River, which flows along the eastern boundary of the park—is home to a selection of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, camping, and boating. The best introduction to the park, though, is the 5-mile Otter Creek Trail, which provides commanding views of the surrounding Kentucky scenery.
What Makes It Great
The Otter Creek Trail is one of eight multi-use trails in the park. This loop combines the Otter Creek Trail with the adjacent Red Cedar Trail for a 5-mile loop that allows hikers to check out the best parts of Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area. The trail eventually climbs the cave-riddled limestone bluffs for an impressive view of the Ohio River, which also serves as the Kentucky-Indiana state line. The trail then drops back down into the forest, where you’ll meet up with the Red Cedar Trail. Trail markers at the park aren’t always obvious, so pay close attention as the trail descends onto the banks of the Ohio. The Red Cedar Trail winds alongside Fort Knox. Any loud noises you hear while hiking are likely a result of artillery on the base. Eventually, the trail meets back up with both the Otter Creek Trail and its namesake creek. This trail heads all the way to the trailhead, winding its way through serene Kentucky old-growth forest.
Who is Going to Love It
Otter Creek Trail gains very little elevation, though there is some climbing up to the bluffs overlooking the Ohio River. This trail is appropriate for inexperienced hikers and families with hardy kids, thanks to several opportunities to head back to the trailhead midway through the loop. Because most trails at Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area are multi-use, it’s important to keep dogs on a leash and watch out for equestrian and mountain bike traffic.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Louisville, follow US-31W to its intersection with KY-1638 and take a right. Head about four miles on KY-1638 to the park entrance station. The $3/person fee for hikers can be paid at the entrance station—bikers and equestrians pay a $7/person fee per day. Tent camping is available for $12/night from May through October, either by reservation (call 502-492-9854) or on a first-come, first-served basis.