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Fall is here! Nothing says autumn like tree leaves changing from green to glowing oranges and reds.
But the season of color-changing leaves doesn’t last long, so get out and take in the beauty before the leaves and temperatures drop for winter. The Farmer's Almanac, which has been predicting long-range weather outlooks annually since 1818, says the peak time to see fall leaves in Louisville this year will be Oct. 5-21.
Here are some of the best places in the Louisville area to see unbe-leafable fall colors, for free.
2075 Clermont Road, Clermont, Kentucky
Bernheim Forest has 16,140 acres of lush green landscapes and tall trees as far as the eye can see in Bullitt and Nelson counties. It has more than 40 miles of trails open to walkers and bikers and a canopy tree walk that takes you up into the trees themselves. See the colorful fall displays that include maples, dogwoods, magnolias, conifers, cypresses, hollies, beeches and buckeyes. Walk, hike, or bike the trails and see the mature trees in a natural setting.
Lake Nevin Loop Trail is a very easy walk that circles the lake and the canopy view trail is a short boardwalk that gives views out over the treetops. These are two prime locations to watch leaves turn. View trail locations on its interactive map or find out more information at bernheim.org.
1340 South 4th St.
One of the city's smaller parks, Central Park is formerly the country estate of the DuPont Family and was converted into a park in 1904-5 with plans created by Frederick Law Olmsted. The park is a 17-acre green oasis with places to sit or walk and take in the fall foliage in the Old Louisville neighborhood, according to olmsteadparks.org.
Central Park is most known for hosting the free Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and other visual and performing arts. Despite its size, the park has walkways as well as a playground, spray ground, picnic tables and volleyball and tennis courts and plenty of trees to watch the leaves turn.
745 Cochran Hill Road
Cherokee Park was planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed New York City's Central Park. It has rolling hills, open meadows, and woodlands of the Beargrass Creek valley.
The park's main feature is its 2.4-mile Scenic Loop with a separate lane for vehicle traffic (one-way) and a second for pedestrians and bicyclists. A great place to see the leaves turn in your car on a hike or bicycle. There are multiple trails that leave the main loop for those looking for a quieter hike through a more heavily wooded area. The secret to staying in the park is to keep turning left or keep turning right to leave, according to olmsteadparks.org.
Along with the walking trails, there are basketball courts, a playground, picnic tables, grills, a nine-hole golf course and a dog run. Cochran Hill Dog Run is located between Interstate 64 and Lexington Road at the northern end of the park. The dog park is divided to allow one side for all dog use and one side for small dog use.
George Rogers Clark Park
1024 Thruston Ave.
While Iroquois Park has the city's tallest tree, George Rogers Clark has the oldest, a more than 200-year-old bald cypress protected by a fenced enclosure on Mulberry Hill. Beargrass Creek runs through much of the park and is crossed by numerous pedestrian and automobile bridges, according to louisvilleky.gov.
There are plenty of other color-changing trees at the park, surrounding the 46 acres of land. The park has a horseshoe pit, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, a multi-purpose field and a playground. A good place to see the leaves changing is going up Mulberry Hill, you get a great view of your surroundings and there picnic tables if you want to stop and sit.
2120 Rundill Road
Iroquois Park was also designed by Olmsted and built in 1891 and is the south Louisville cornerstone of the park system, according to olmsteadparks.org. It has plenty of forested hillsides and scenic vistas for those willing to walk the extra mile, an amphitheater, and the panoramic North Overlook, which is a good place to watch fall foliage; from the top, you can see panoramas of Louisville and trees for miles.
Iroquois Park also has an open-air amphitheater, where a variety of concerts and other shows are held throughout the year. The park has a playground as well as areas for basketball, tennis, disc golf, fishing, golf, picnics and more.
Jefferson Memorial Forest
11311 Mitchell Hill Road
Jefferson Memorial Forest has approximately 6,600 acres of steep slopes covered with mature, second-growth hardwood trees. The forest spans nearly 10 miles from east to west and is ribboned with scenic trails and small streams. It also has a fishing lake, outdoor recreational facilities, a conference center, and a Welcome Center with trail maps, hiking supplies, nature-related books and souvenirs and more, according to louisvilleky.gov. Mitchel Hill Lake Trail is one of the popular trails of the forest, a must do for fall foliage.
Joe Creason Park
1297 Trevilian Way
Across the street from Bellarmine University, Joe Creason Park is a popular spot for bird watchers and cross-country runners with its 1.5-mile paved walking path that circles Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve. There are two hills along the route along with two bridges a prime place to see leaves turn, according to louisvilleky.gov.
The park has a playground with several swing sets and two separate playgrounds that are near each other. Also several picnic tables and home to Louisville Tennis Center.
Beckley Creek Park, 1411 Beckley Creek Parkway; Pope Lick Park, 4002 S. Pope Lick Road; Turkey Run Park, Seatonville Road; Broad Run Park, 11551 Bardstown Road, and the Strand: Louisville Loop
The Parklands is made up of four parks, Beckley Creek Park; Pope Lick Park; Turkey Run Park, Broad Run Park and the Strand, a collection of land that links the two northern and the two southern parks. Features 19 miles of the Louisville Loop and over 60 miles of hiking, biking, and paddling trails thread throughout. Each park has its own personality. The paved or natural-surface trails that wind along the creek at Beckley Creek Park are a perfect place to see fall foliage and at Broad Run Park check out the Big Vista Overloop. Find more details at theparklands.org.
4501 W. Broadway
Shawnee Park, also designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, is located in west Louisville along the Ohio River. He designed it to be a public space for picnics, sports, parades and large public gatherings.
Shawnee boasts an expansive Great Lawn, the principal feature of the park is enclosed by plantings and a circular drive that is lined with trees. A great place to view the tree's fall color, according to olmsteadparks.org.
A recent improvement to Shawnee Park includes floating vegetative islands, three chess tables and the restored Lily Pond, another great place to watch fall color.
The park also has a state-of-the-art outdoor athletic complex at 230 Southwestern Parkway, an 18-hole golf course, and includes a portion of Louisville's Riverwalk Trail extending across the city's waterfront. There is a nature play space, basketball courts, road biking, baseball diamonds as well as access to Louisville Loop.
4800 Waverly Park Road
Not far from the famous Louisville haunted attraction Waverly Hills Sanatorium and adjacent to the Bobby Nichols Golf course you’ll find Waverly Park is the perfect destination for those wanting to take in Louisville's fall colors.
Waverly Park is also a favorite place of mountain bikers and hiking enthusiasts due to its extensive system of shared-use trails (biking/hiking) and its 6.4-mile mountain biking loop. It has a scenic 5-acre fishing lake that is regularly stocked by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife (open to anyone with a valid fishing license), a playground, a nine-hole golf course, canoe access and two shelters that can be rented for picnics or other types of gatherings, according to louisvilleky.gov. An accessible gravel trail encircles Waverly Lake a good location to walk and watch leaves turn.
Reach features news clerk Gege Reed at email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Parks around Louisville to see fall leaves, colors