Clay Hill Memorial Forest Main Loop Trail
Clay Hill Memorial Forest, owned and managed by Campbellsville University, is a mature woodland and conservation area located in northern Taylor County at the headwaters of the Pitman Creek Watershed. It serves as a source of environmental education, research and spiritual restoration. The site includes a pavilion and headquarters (and restrooms when open). Here one can access the core forest trail system which consists of several miles of trails that wind through hardwood forest along ridges and through valleys that are dissected by beautiful headwater streams. The trails are mostly gently rolling with a few steep inclines. The CHMF trails are among the best of any natural areas in this region. The trails rival those of Mammoth Cave National Park and Bernheim Forest in quality.
Best Trails: Visitors can choose from among numerous hikes varying in distance and difficulty. Consult the trailhead information board behind the pavilion before deciding.
For a short, easy hike consider traversing the pond boardwalk and native grass successional trail within sight of the pavilion. Here there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife encounters. Or perhaps a short out and back visit to the Ken Weddle Center which provides some educational exhibits.
The most popular hike is probably the ~ 1-mile main loop trail that starts just beyond the pond. After passing the Ken Weddle Center it winds and rolls to the highly recommended side trail called Little Angel Spring. Return to the main trail, cross the ridge and after passing over the pipeline right-of-way descend into a beautiful valley along a section of trail referred to as Trout Lily Way.
The valley features the confluence of two scenic woodland streams and conveys a cathedral-like natural environment. Ascend the wood steps up the opposing ridge through an open forest until you emerge in the native grass field and return to the parking lot now in sight.
Best Time to Visit: Early to late Spring for native wildflowers and migrating birds is hard to beat. Fall is especially comfortable and the diverse forest presents a fall color pallet that will not disappoint. The trails are also good in winter and a snowy hike here can lift one’s spirit in the dead of winter.
Photo Credit: Trout Lily and Phlox by Tom Barnes from “Kentucky, Naturally: The Work of the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund“.
The core forest has been enhanced by additions to the natural area via funding from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund:
Alltrails entry with map, additional pictures and an elevation guide: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/clay-hill-memorial-forest
CHMF Nature Guides: