FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 31, 2014) — Spring in Kentucky brings a profusion of flowery color, particularly with the blooming of the commonwealth’s famous dogwood and redbud trees.
While you can glimpse these wonders of nature throughout the state, several locations offer the best prospects for viewing large concentrations of redbuds’ striking pink blossoms and snowy white dogwood blooms.
For dogwoods, head to Paducah in western Kentucky, where the city has designated a Dogwood Trail that snakes 10 miles through downtown and leafy residential neighborhoods. April 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Dogwood Trail Celebration, which is highlighted by nighttime illumination of trees and gardens along the trail. Follow the signs strategically located at each turn in the trail, and you’ll see many varieties of dogwoods, as well as Japanese maples, weeping cherry trees, redbuds and other flowering species.
The celebration stretches over several weeks in mid-April while the trees are in bloom. A spring bike ride expected to attract more than 250 cyclists is scheduled April 13. Winning entries in the city’s Dogwood Art & Photography Contest will be displayed at Paducah City Hall through June. For more information about the Dogwood Trail Celebration, visit paducahky.gov/paducah/dogwood-trail.
Redbuds are found in all their colorful glory throughout the hills of eastern Kentucky. One of the best places to start a redbud tracking trip is Barbourville in the state’s southeastern corner. Here the annual Union College Redbud Festival of Appalachian Culture celebrates the mountains’ springtime beauty with cycling events, photo contest, beauty pageant and Kentucky authors’ forum. This year’s festival is set for April 11-12. For more information, visit redbudfestky.com.
Follow U.S. 25E south from Barbourville, and you’re sure to sight an abundance of the distinctive pink blooms on surrounding hillsides. When you reach Pineville, stop at Pine Mountain State Resort Park and hike on one of its trails to examine the blossoms at close range. Other recommended routes for redbud viewing include U.S. 23, the Country Music Highway, which traces Kentucky’s eastern border from Ashland to the Virginia state line; Red River Gorge Scenic Byway along state highways 15, 715 and 77; Hal Rogers Parkway between London and Hazard; and Kingdom Come Parkway along U.S. 119 between Pineville and Harlan.
For other state parks in the region that offer hiking trails with good bloom-viewing opportunities, visit parks.ky.gov. Check out kentuckytourism.com for more ideas on how to enjoy Kentucky’s spring before the blossoms disappear for another year.