Key At-A-Glance Information
Length: 3.3 miles
Configuration: Series of loops
Scenery: Woods and streams
Trail Surface: Soil with exposed rocks and roots
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours
Driving Distance: 1 hour south of Cincinnati
Maps: USGS Falmouth; Kincaid State Park map
Wheelchair Accessible: No
Facilities: Restrooms and water at recreation center
For More Information: (859) 654-3531 or www.parks.ky.gov
Special Comments: The family-friendly park offers lots of activities to keep everyone engaged.
Kincaid State Park is located in the rolling hills of northern Kentucky. Enter the park and follow the road to the recreation center, which provides programming from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Programs include crafts and outdoor fun and games. Additional activities include a wide variety of playground equipment and a miniature golf course.
To begin the hike, follow the paved path to the right of the basketball courts from the recreation center. The trail enters a forest dominated by Eastern red cedar trees. Follow the trail to the small shelter house at 0.16 miles. Pass through the shelter house and descend the steps. At 0.17 miles, when the trail intersects with another trail, take the trail to the right.
As the trail heads downhill, the forest transitions from a red cedar–dominated forest. to hardwood forest with red and white oak, sugar maple, and hickory trees. When the trail reaches the bottom area at 0.26 miles, take the trail to the right, following the waterway.
Shagbark hickories dominate this portion of trail. The wetland area is located to the left of the trail at 0.28 miles. Along this portion of trail, keep an eye out for whitewash on the ground. This is an indication of owls in the area. Look at the nooks and crannies of the large white oak trees and see if you can spy one of the many large nests created from sticks. Owls are protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as by state laws. You’re not allowed to collect any feathers, including the ones shed by the owls.
The trail heads uphill at 0.29 miles and the forest transitions back to redcedar forest at 0.31 miles. At the intersection just down the hill from the shelter house you passed through earlier, turn right and take the trail back downhill. This time at the trail intersection in the bottom area at 0.35 miles, turn left near the stream. Follow the trail along the valley of hardwood forest.
The stream flows to your right, and a high canopy of sugar maple, Ohio buckeye, white oak, and shagbark hickory trees shade the trail. To the left is a hillside with several drainage areas flowing into the creek.
At 0.4 miles you’ll reach a suspension bridge at the trailheads for the Ironwood and Spicebush trails. Cross the bridge to follow Spicebush Trail. At this point the creek will be to your left. Spicebush is a small footpath that meanders through the woodland area.
Large sycamore, elm, and Ohio buckeye trees, as well as enormous ropes of grapevine, bracket the trail. Two drainage areas combine to form the creek at 0.47 miles. The trail heads uphill, and at 0.5 miles it borders a dry creek bed.
The trail takes a hard left at 0.53 miles and climbs over an eroded hillside for almost 0.1 mile. As the trail continues uphill, the hardwood forest transitions from sugar maples and oaks to Eastern red cedars. The trail surface changes from soil and exposed rocks to a mowed grass path at 0.62 miles.
The trail intersects with the connector to Ironwood Trail and the continuation of Spicebush Trail at 0.76 miles. Follow Spicebush Trail to the right. This portion of the trail is a grass-covered, vehicle-wide pathway through a relatively flat area. You’ll see a few shingle oaks mixed in among the red cedars during this portion of the hike. At 0.82 miles and to the left 20 feet off of the trail is a small pond.
At the end of the roadway, the trail enters a planted white pine stand at 0.94 miles. The path leads downhill and in 0.1 mile turns right and leads into an upland forest of sugar maple, white oak, and red oak trees.
Keep following the trail to the right. As the trail heads downhill and gets closer to the waterway, spicebush covers the hillsides. The trail reaches the creek and follows the streambed to the bridge at 1.19 miles. Cross the bridge and this time proceed on the Ironwood Trail to the left of the bridge.
This is a single-person-wide footpath through the woods. In summertime, expect the edges of the trail to be lined with stinging nettles. The canopy trees are predominately Ohio buckeye, sugar maple, shagbark hickory, and white oak.
You’ll come upon several small waterway crossings near the 1.3-mile mark. The trail leads uphill and into a younger forest, then heads downhill for about 100 feet to the creek, which it parallels before crossing it at 1.47 miles.
The trail leads back uphill. If you like ironwood (also known as American hornbeam or musclewood), then you’re in for a treat at 1.74 miles because there’s a small grove of ironwoods before the trail heads downhill.
The trail crosses the creek at 1.9 miles and enters a red-cedar forest. Continue following the trail to the right until it connects with the Spicebush Trail at 2.51 miles. Turn right and follow the Spicebush Trail downhill.
In the flat bottom area, continue following the trail as it turns right and parallels the stream. The forest is once again dominated by white oaks. Cross the bridge again at 2.64 miles.
Take the trail to the left and retrace your steps to the shelter house. Pass through the center of the shelter house and continue on the small footpath uphill. This leads into a mowed open area. Walk to the flagpole memorial. Then proceed to the parking area and your vehicle.
GPS Trailhead Coordinates
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UTM Zone (WGS84) 16S
Latitude: N 38 degrees 43' 28.39"
Longitude: W 84 degrees 16' 58.87"
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