Trail: Tioga Falls Trail
Trailhead: (37.96885338613129, -85.96118465430114) Louisville Nashville Turnpike, West Point, KY 40177
Stats: 2.4 miles roundtrip, ~490 feet of elevation gain. Out and back trail
Difficulty: Easy to slightly moderate
Fees: No Fees
Trail Notes/Waypoints: The trail is occasionally closed for hunting season and military exercises. The land is part of Fort Knox Army Base with all federal restrictions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice applying to the trail.
Summary: Jump to here (TL:DR) for a quick breakdown.
This post is part of the Louisville Hiking Project. All of these hikes are under one hours drive from Louisville, KY. They make for great day hikes that are easy to complete with little prior planning. If you are in the Louisville area and are looking for a quick escape to the trails, then this is the series for you. Next time you ask, where should I hike around Louisville, KY? Check out this series.
The beginning of this summer started with day after day of rain. During one of the short breaks from the rain, The Girl and I got out for a quick hike to Tioga Falls. Tioga Falls Trail is located 40 minutes southwest of downtown Louisville in West Point, KY. The trail lies on the grounds of Fort Knox Army Base but is accessible to the public.
Right off the parking lot is a sign marking the trailhead for Tioga Falls Trail. Head under this sign following a bit of singletrack trail. You quickly come to a bridge over the creek that runs over a branch of Tioga Creek. This branch of Tioga Creek is usually dry but had a little water in it today due to all of the rain that we had recently.
The trail continues for another tenth of a mile before a detour puts you out onto the road. This detour has been present for at least the last year, and I do not see that changing anytime soon. You could skip the first section of the trail and walk down Railroad Trestle Road from the parking lot. I feel that defeats the point of getting out in nature. Plus, the first part of the hike over the creek is pretty and worth checking out. Either way, the road has no traffic on it, and you will most likely not be bothered by cars on this short stretch of road.
The detour is well marked, and you will not get lost easily. Just before getting back onto the trail, you will pass a building on the left of the road. The building is an old Bell South Telephone Company building but is now the private property of an individual who is restoring it.
Heading back onto the trail you have a short steep climb before coming out to a section of train tracks. Be careful here, the railroad tracks are active. Head across the tracks to rejoin the trail. The trail you follow is an old winding wagon road that cuts into the hillside.
The trail is rocky doubletrack. The trail rises a little bit more before starting to descend towards the falls. At varying points along the way, you can see the stonework in the hillside used to support the old wagon road.
A few more twists and turns through woods with a spattering of quick ups and downs puts you out at the waterfalls. The falls are a series of smaller cascades that drop about 130 feet. The water flowing over the falls varies greatly, and I highly recommend going after a recent rainfall. A lack of rain will show in limited water flow at the falls.
There is a very small section of trail that loops back down around the creek to explore the creek bed. Otherwise, the trail heads back out from the way that you came.
If you are looking to mountain bike or hike a little more before or after. I recommend checking out Ft. Duffield, which is a short drive just up the road towards Louisville.
Summary: Tioga Falls Trail is a quick 2-mile hike just outside of Louisville, KY. The trail is on the easier side of a moderate hike with a few sections of steeper inclines and rocky doubletrack. You are rewarded along the way with dense forest and the end features the tallest waterfall in the area. Make sure there has been adequate rain recently before heading out or the falls may be underwhelming.