Four reasons each season is the best for outdoor adventure in Kentucky

Our locals agree and disagree about outdoor adventure in Kentucky.

Eddie thinks SUMMER is the best season for cycling.

McKenna thinks AUTUMN is the prime time for paddling and horse back riding.

Chelsea thinks the SPRING is the most special time for hiking and caving.

Michael loves winding through the trails in the WINTER.


Eddie Bruner is a local cycling enthusiast who loves cycling in all seasons, however his favorite season to ride the roads here is the summer.  “It’s summer for me.” said Bruner when asked about his preferences.  “Hart County is best in full bloom. The greener, the better.”

Eddie is the past president of Cave Country Trails, a local initiative to create a regional network of biking, hiking, equestrian, and water trails to connect communities and make the Mammoth Cave Area and South Central Kentucky a more attractive outdoor destination and place to live. This initiative also promotes healthy lifestyles within the region.

Eddie and Cave Country Trails have been led the charge for the extension of US Bike Route 23 into Kentucky.  The Kentucky portion of USBR23 runs from the southern border with Tennessee in Simpson County – all the way to Hodgenville in Larue County.  Find out more about USBR 23 & other cycling options in our area here.

Mammoth Cave National Park – also a part of Hart County – has many biking trails as well.  Eddie rides these regularly and information about them can be found here.

Eddie Bruner and friends cycling through Hart County in the summer.

McKENNA and the FALL

McKenna Vierstra grew up as a local farm kid and has spent most of her adult life continuing to pursue life in the outdoors.  While her preferred method of trail transportation is horseback riding, she does spend time backpacking, hiking and paddling.

McKenna defends the fall as being the best time for the trails in Hart County.  “You just can’t beat the cooler weather for making the trails more pleasant to enjoy. You also have the beauty of the changing leaves, which is always inspiring.”  McKenna has also earned a Fine Arts degree from Western Kentucky University.  “Art and the outdoors are just a natural fit for me.”

McKenna has spent the last two years working with AmeriCorp on various trail building and maintenance projects around the SouthEast of the United States.  When back at home in Kentucky it doesn’t take her long to head out with friends on horseback or grab some kayaks and head to the Green River.  She has an at least annual date with 300 Springs – a series of waterfalls only accessible by boat.

Green River paddling in the fall. Photo by McKenna Vierstra.


Although Michael Goodman has recently moved to Nashville, this third generation cave guide at Mammoth Cave National Park knows about the wonder that winter on the trails can bring. “When the trees drop their foliage for the winter, the landscape is completely changed,” stated Michael when asked which season he prefers in Hart County.  “From a geological standpoint, rock formations shine more without the cover of the green.  You can also see much further in the woods when hiking in the winter.” While some people naturally question the cold when thinking about winter hiking – Michael reminds us that you can always layer up and then adjust as needed on the trail.

Michael’s built in knowledge of Mammoth Cave makes him one of the our local experts on the many underground trails here.  He also has a great affinity for the park’s backcountry trail system and has spent many miles developing his familiarity with that area.  He has also paddled the Green from the top of Hart County to the lock past Edmonson County.

Mammoth Cave winter hiking. Photo by Michael Goodman.


Chelsea Ballard grew up on a Hart County farm and realized pretty early that her great loves had become rocks and plants.  This led her toward the study of geology and specifically the karst lands of our county.  While she has served as a ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park for years, she is also the membership and volunteer coordinator at Hidden River Cave.  Chelsea believes the beauty of the spring in Hart County has dibs over all other seasons.  “The leaves are starting to unfurl, the fern fronds are uncoiling from beneath the snow and leaves of the winter and the wildflowers here are just spectacular in bloom,” says Chelsea.  “It’s also an exciting time when all living things are starting to reawaken from their winter slumber.  To be there for that is pretty magical.”

Chelsea’s love of the karst land has also made her one of the most knowledgeable people in our region on the underground trail systems here.  She invites you to come to Hidden River Cave for a regular cave tour, to visit the American Cave and Karst Museum, also at the cave, or if you’re feeling really adventurous – she highly recommends their Wild Cave Tour.  You don’t mind getting a little muddy, right?

A Mammoth Cave National Park trail in the spring. Photo by Chelsea Ballard.