The Prairie Preserve Trail is an easy, all-weather gravel path located in the Pope Lick Park section of the Parklands of Floyds Fork. The trail travels the border between the hilly Big Beech Woods and the Prairie Preserve, which was a study in yellows, golds and browns, accented with some emerging greens, when we hiked it on March 12.
While the trail itself is a 1.15-mile end-to-end trail, you have to get back to your car somehow, and this makes the total walking distance 2.39 miles. We parked in the parking lot nearest the Parklands Administration Building, which is at the back of Pope Lick Park, and walked one-tenth of a mile on the Fitness Circle until we reached the trailhead of the Prairie Preserve Trail at its southeast corner.
From here, take the gravel path through a stand of cedar trees until you reach the Louisville Loop at 0.4 miles. Turn right on the Louisville Loop and cross the pedestrian bridge. Be careful on the Louisville Loop, because you’ll most likely encounter cyclists coming over the bridge at a pretty fast clip. Once over the bridge, turn left onto the gravel trail, marked with a sign guiding you to the trailhead for the Big Beech Trail, which begins and ends on the Prairie Preserve Trail.
As we walked along the flat grade, we spotted many eastern bluebirds, along with a few bird boxes affixed to tall posts along the edge of the trail. The trail offers a great perspective across the Prairie Preserve, where you can see many species of birds flying among the joggers and cyclists on the Louisville Loop, a few hundred yards away.
Near the one mile mark, you’ll notice a run-down barn sitting on the bank of a small pond. Many years ago, someone built a deck over the pond, complete with a nice ladder for getting in and out of the water. Angell and I love surprises like this, and we speculated about the people who once swam in this once-secluded pond near the banks of Floyds Fork.
A little further down the trail, if you pay close attention, you’ll notice a small cave to your left. As of this writing, I’m not sure if this is private property or not. It’s not marked, but you do step over a downed wire fence to approach the mouth of the small cave. When we visited, a row of melting icicles dripped water and glistened in the light, as if strung up there for decoration. We weren’t dressed for spelunking, and moved on after sitting and talking a bit.
At 1.3 miles, the gravel trail meets the Louisville Loop. Turn right to head back to the parking lot. Turn left to explore a beautiful stretch of the Parklands called The Strand. The Louisville Loop winds through the Prairie Preserve, with the golden grasses to the right and the tree lined banks of Floyds Fork to your left. A half-mile later, you cross back over the pedestrian bridge and back to the parking lot, retracing your steps.
Trail conditions are very easy, with no elevation gain. The crushed gravel and concrete make the trail perfect for getting out on wet, rainy days when the dirt trails are closed. Birdwatchers will enjoy this hike and the many birdhouses that have been erected along the way. The one negative for us was being cut off from Floyds Fork. With so many trails in the Parklands bordering it, the ones that don’t make you miss the running water.
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Getting here – from the Gene Snyder Freeway (I-265)
- Take I-64 to exit 23 for KY-155/Taylorsville Road
- Head East on KY-155/Taylorsville Road
- Turn right on S. Pope Lick Road, which is just before the Shell station
- Follow S. Pope Lick Road past the parking area for the soccer fields all the way back to the Administration Building, and begin your hike on the Fitness Loop.