Discover 5 Incredible Places to See Fall Foliage in Kentucky

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Published: October 22, 2022
© iStock.com/zrfphoto
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Are you looking forward to experiencing autumn in Kentucky? There are many locations in the Bluegrass State to experience the splendor of fall, from quaint, small villages covered in fall color to walking paths and waterfalls. Although June is the month with the most visitors to Kentucky, going in the fall is strongly advised! 

Depending on whatever region of the state you visit, the fall season delivers a breathtaking display of vivid color that peaks between mid-October and early November. The ideal time to come to Kentucky to view the fall foliage is around late October!

Kentucky is famous for a variety of things, including fried chicken, bluegrass music, horseback riding, and bourbon. The beauty of Kentucky in autumn is one thing that is underappreciated. No matter if you’re a visitor who loves to stay in the city or someone who wants to spend time in nature, fall in Kentucky is magnificent.

Cumberland Falls

The most famous and stunning waterfall in Kentucky is Cumberland Falls, which is located close to Corbin. When traveling throughout Kentucky in the fall, you absolutely must see this spectacular waterfall. There are trails, a big observation platform, a resort, and camping opportunities in addition to the gem mine. You can have a terrific day exploring Cumberland Falls by starting at the Cumberland Falls Campground!

The falls also have a nice sandy beach where you may relax in the fall. In front of you, the Cumberland River can be seen, and beyond the water, a wall of rocky outcrops and autumnal hues can be seen. You can obtain a hidden view of the falls by turning left into the big boulders from the shore.

Hit the Pinnacle Knob Lookout while you are in Cumberland Falls. You will reach the lookout tower via a short, 1.2-mile out-and-return trail. Amazing mountain vistas await those who ascend the stairs to the top. When surges of fog engulf the spaces between the mountains, the sights are especially breathtaking. This is one of the best spots in Kentucky to see colorful leaves in late October.

Cumberland Falls
Cumberland Falls is also referred to as “the Niagara of the South.”

©iStock.com/alexeys

Daniel Boone National Forest

The Daniel Boone National Forest, which spans 21 counties in eastern Kentucky, is responsible for managing more than 708,000 acres of national forest network areas inside of a 2.1 million-acre proclamation boundary. The Daniel Boone National Forest offers numerous chances to discover the geography, history, and culture of eastern Kentucky. 

These opportunities include more than 600 miles of trails, two wilderness areas that have received federal recognition, and more than 250 recreation areas. With beautiful rock formations, bluffs, and more than 100 naturally occurring stone arches, the Red River Gorge region is a veritable hiker’s dream. 

Tulip poplars, birches, and bigleaf magnolias create their greatest colors during the last two weeks of October when you should visit. To truly appreciate the changing of the seasons, take a picturesque drive along the Zilpo Road and Red River Gorge Byway.

Yahoo Falls Kentucky
Yahoo Falls, in Daniel Boone National Forest, is believed to be the tallest waterfall in Kentucky.

©iStock.com/alexeys

Land Between the Lakes

Over 500 miles of trails offer options for hiking, biking, and driving tours throughout the roughly 110,000 acres in Kentucky and 60,000 acres in Tennessee that make up Land Between the Lakes. Take a 43-mile journey along the Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway through the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky and Tennessee. 

When the trees are changing colors in the fall, it is the perfect time to enjoy the picturesque Bluegrass Country Driving Tour, which weaves by cattle ranches with their timber and masonry fences.

Lake Barkley
Lake Barkley, in Kentucky and Tennessee, is part of the extensive Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area complex.

©iStock.com/PhotosbyMerry

Keeneland Fall Meet

Because of their passion for thoroughbred horses, Lexington prides itself on being The Horse Capital of the World. One of the top horse racing facilities in the world, Keeneland is also a fantastic location to visit in Kentucky during the season. If you’re in the region in October, be sure to stop by during the Keeneland Fall Meet, which typically lasts the majority of the month. 

If horse racing isn’t your cup of tea, Keeneland can be visited simply to enjoy the gorgeous grounds. Tourists can schedule a behind-the-scenes tour or take a self-guided tour of this National Historic Landmark. The Keeneland Kids Club is one of the best kid-friendly attractions in Lexington.

Thoroughbred standing in the sunshine in road
Lexington, Kentucky, is considered to be the Horse Capital of the World. thoroughbreds like this one can run 44 mph.

©BIGANDT.COM/Shutterstock.com

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

According to the official website, “The trees here at Bernheim are really starting to put on a show and the nights are getting a little chillier. At the gift shop, we are really starting to ramp up for the holidays, and just like the trees, we are so excited to show off some of our new colors”

Bernheim, Kentucky’s official state arboretum, offers a visitor center with open, airy architecture and the most recent “green” building methods, as well as a 16,000-acre animal refuge. Bernheim provides numerous possibilities to appreciate and learn about nature. It is full of indoor and outdoor exhibitions, such as the Forest Giants, overhanging tree walks, scent and sound mazes, and new trails and walkways.

Canopy Tree Walk in Bernheim Arboretum 75 feet above the forest floor
The Canopy Tree Walk at the Bernheim Arboretum, 75 feet above the forest floor

©This image was marked with a CC BY-ND 2.0 license – License

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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