With snow on the ground this past weekend, I thought it would be nice to hike at Jefferson Memorial Forest. Temperatures being in the twenties, I wasn't looking for a long hike, so I took the Yost Ridge Trail from the Welcome Center, merged with the Mitchell Hill Lake trail, and hiked up to the conference center in the Horine Reservation. In all, about three miles and an hour and a half of hiking.
The trail was slippery in spots, but I managed to stay upright and was rewarded with an untrammeled path save for the footprints of one other hiker. I haven't studied tracking, but know enough to be fascinated by tracks. In addition to the hiker, I saw fox, rabbit, deer, and squirrel prints.
With the snow forming a map, it was fun to try and guess the intentions of my fellow travelers. The distinctive straight-line trot of the fox moving point to point searching for the next meal; the wary hop of a rabbit looking for something green under the snow. A squirrel pausing by a tree seemingly to scratch and nibble at the bark. And lastly my fellow hiker, who hiked up to the Horine Section, but has not yet returned.
In addition to tracks, there were two beautiful overlook views with the ridges of the Forest falling off into the surrounding lowlands. A chilling wind whipping up the ridgeline kept me from lingering too long over the scene.
The Forest Welcome Center is open from 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Saturday, and 10 to 3:00 PM on Sunday. On winter weekends, free hot chocolate, cookies and a fire make a truly welcome finish to your hike.
The Forest is located at 11311 Mitchell Hill Road, Fairdale, KY 40118. See memorialforest.com for more information.
Photo: Shawn Nevins