Kentucky – Cecil L. Gorley Naturalist Trail

Kentucky – Cecil L. Gorley Naturalist Trail

Located at the geographic center of Kentucky is the small city of Lebanon, nicknamed the Heart of Kentucky. My kids and I traveled to this cute town recently for a weekend. We explored the annual Marion County Country Ham Days festival on the first day of our visit. The next day provided an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the area. We headed to nearby Fagan Branch Lake.

The lake is actually a reservoir that was constructed in 1992 by the Lebanon Water Works, primarily as a source of water for the community, but it has also become a recreational area. It’s a popular spot for fishing and has a boat ramp.

My kids weren’t in the mood for fishing, so we decided to take a hike instead. The Cecil L. Gorley Naturalist Trail encircles the lake.

We grabbed a couple of water bottles and headed out on the trail. The entire loop is 3.2 miles long. When we headed out we hadn’t decided if we were going to go the whole way around, or just hike part of it and turn around. We were soon captivated by the beauty of the woods and the views of the lake.

If you hike all the way around the lake, you’ll cross 47 bridges!

There are several hills along the trail.

My kids loved the hike. I kept stopping to take pictures and they started getting further and further ahead of me.

Eventually I gave up on trying to keep up with them and just enjoyed the hike on my own.

One of the prettiest spots was about halfway around where there was a pond next to the lake. It felt so peaceful there.

Once you reach the halfway point, you might as well go the rest of the way around the lake instead of turning back. I’m glad we kept going. Most of the trees were still green, but a few of them provided a first glimpse at the fall color that was on its way.

At one point I began wondering if I’d see my kids again before the end of the trail. There were a few benches and picnic tables along the way. Eventually I caught up to the kids resting at one of those spots.

Only three of the four kids could fit on the bench, so one of my daughters had to find another place to sit.

Toward the end of the trail (or the beginning–if you start going the other direction), we saw a cute little island in the lake.

All of us enjoyed the beauty of the Fagan Branch Lake and the Gorley Trail. My only complaint is that there weren’t any restroom facilities (not even portable toilets) on the trail or even at the trailhead.

Tip: either pick up a map at the Lebanon Visitor Center or print a map before you leave home.

Ready to visit?

Cecil L. Gorley Naturalist Trail
Fagan Branch Lake
370 Fagan Branch Rd.
Lebanon, KY  40033

Free admission

Open year-round

Many thanks to the Lebanon Tourist & Convention Commission for hosting our visit.

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