Kentucky Ornithological Society

Birding Locations in Kentucky

For birding locations in particular areas of Kentucky, click on one of the following:
Western Kentucky 
(west of I - 65)
     Near I-65
Central Kentucky
I-65 & I-75)
Near I-75
Eastern Kentucky 
(east of I - 75)

Click here to see a map of Kentucky's counties

Eastern Kentucky

Bad Branch Nature Preserve in Letcher County - Located on the north side of KY 932 (2.5 miles east of US 119). For more information, check the Bad Branch website.

Blanton Forest in Harlan County - For more information, check the Blanton Forest web site.

Breaks Interstate Park, on the Kentucky-Virginia border - The spectacular beauty of the park, located 7 miles east of Elkhorn City, KY and 8 miles north of Haysi, VA on KY-VA 80, is showcased with 12 miles of hiking rails and four scenic overlooks. For more information, check the Breaks Interstate Park website.

Cumberland Gap near Middlesboro - Cumberland Gap is located 50 miles southeast of Corbin on 25E.  For details, check the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park website.

Kentucky Ridge State Forest in Bell County - Kentucky Ridge State Forest contains Pine Mountain State Park on Pine Mountain and is located on the south side of Pine Mountain and the north side of Log Mountain, encompassing Little Clear Creek Valley. The forest also contains Chenoa Lake, the Division of Forestry's Chenoa Service Center and Bell County Forestry Camp. To get there, take Exit 29 (Corbin - Barbourville) off of Interstate 75, travel south on U.S. 25 E to Pineville. Follow signs to Pine Mountain State Resort Park. The park adjoins Kentucky Ridge Forest on the northeastern portions. The forest is bisected by Highway 190 when traveling west of Pineville to Chenoa. For more information, check the Kentucky Ridge State Forest website.

Kentenia State Forest in Harlan County - This state forest is located along the south side of Pine Mountain in seven scattered tracts totaling 3,624 acres. To get there, from Harlan travel north on U.S. 421 to the crest of Pine Mountain, then travel along Little Shepherd Trail past the Harlan County Boys Camp. Along this stretch from the boys camp to Laden Trail, Little Shepherd Trail bisects the upper portions of the largest and most accessible portion of the forest. For more information, check the Kentenia State Forest website.

Kentucky State Parks in eastern Kentucky - Carter Caves, Grayson Lake, Greenbo Lake, Jenny Wiley, Yatesville Lake, and others. For more information, check the Kentucky State Parks website.

Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery below Cave Run Lake dam - From I-64 near Morehead, take exit 133 to KY 801. Go 3.2 miles south to US 60, then go 0.1 mile to KY 801 and turn south. It's 1.5 miles to the hatchery. For more information, check the website.

Pilot Knob State Nature Preserve - located in Powell County. From the junction of the Mountain Parkway and KY 15 at Clay City, follow KY 15 north for 2.7 miles. Turn right on Brush Creek Road for 1.5 miles to gravel parking area. For more information,
check the Pilot Knob website.

Red River Gorge, including the Clifty Wilderness - From Lexington, take Interstate 64 east to Exit 98 (Bert T. Combs Mtn. Parkway, #402); take the parkway to Exit 33 (Slade Exit); then turn left at the junction of KY 11/KY 15.  Go 1.5 miles west on KY 15 to KY 77, and follow the signs. For more information, check the Red River Gorge website.

Shillialah Creek Public Wildlife Area in Bell and Harlan counties - Located along Brush Mountain, north of Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.  From Pineville, take US 119 North approximately 10 miles to Hwy 987, then south to Cubage to Mill Branch-Hensley Flats Rd. For more information, check the Shillialah Creek website.

Wildlife Management Areas in eastern Kentucky - For more information, check the Wildlife Management Areas website.

Near I-75

Ano Strip Mines in Pulaski County - To get to this nice grassland area, take Rt. 80 east from Somerset about six to eight miles and begin looking for the Shopville School on the left (north); from the school, continue east on Rt. 80 about 3.2 miles and take Rt. 1675 on the right.  Go one block to a stop sign and turn left onto Rt. 1675; go 3.8 miles and make a sharp right, staying on Rt. 1675; go another mile and take Acorn Ano Rd. to the left; go 3.2 miles to Bolthouse Ridge Rd. on the right and follow it to the old strip mine area, which includes a short spur to an old cemetery and a trailhead for some  trails through the grassland.  Henslow's and Grasshopper sparrows breed in this area. (Checklist of species observed at the Ano Strip Mines courtesy of Stephen Stedman).

Bee Rock in southeastern Pulaski County - From Somerset at the jct. of Rt. 27 and Bypass 80 (light # 3), go east on Bypass 80 approximately 3 miles; turn right (south) on Bypass 914 and go to the first light in approximately 0.3 miles; turn left (east) on Rt. 192 and continue on Rt. 192 approximately 18 miles; turn left just before crossing the Rockcastle River to trails # 529 and # 503. Watch on the left for trail # 529 on the way in; it goes up to an overlook and is 2.2 miles long. To get to trail # 503, continue through the campground and park in the parking area at the end of the road; this trail runs along the river, then goes uphill, crosses Close Road, and intersects with trail # 529, which you can take back down to the main road and then go left back to the parking area for a distance of 6+ miles. Along the road before the campground watch for Prothonotary Warblers along the river, listen for Swainson's and Cerulean warblers along the river on trail # 503, and look for Blue-headed Vireos up on top along trail # 529. Grouse are possible anywhere. Going back west on Hwy. 192, watch on the right for Close Road; it's also within the DBNF and is a good road to bird (Checklist of birds observed at Bee Rock courtesy of Stephen Stedman).

Berea College Forest - An easy drive from exit 75 on I-75 (the southern Berea exit). Just take Route 21 East for about 5 miles to Indian Fort Theatre's parking lot which will be on the left. For more information, check the Berea Forest website.

Boone County Cliffs State Nature Preserve - From I-75, take exit #181 west 5 miles to Burlington. Continue on KY 18 for 6 miles, where Middle Creek Road intersects from the left. Turn left and proceed for 1.9 miles to our parking area. For more information, check the Boone County Cliffs website.

Cove Spring Park Nature Preserve - From I-64, take the Frankfort exit (U.S. 127 North). Follow U.S. 127 North signs through Frankfort and get off Wilkinson Boulevard where U.S. 127 goes north to Owenton. Proceed 300 yards north on U.S. 127 to the park preserve entrance. For more information, check the Cove Spring Park website.

Fishing Creek Recreation Area in Pulaski County - Am Army Corps of Engineers site located on an arm of Lake Cumberland.  To get to Fishing Creek from the intersection of Rt. 27 and Business Rt. 80 (light # 4 in Somerset), go west on Rt. 80 about 2.8 miles to Rt. 1248 on the right (a Shell station is at this corner); take Rt. 1248 about 1.6 miles to the end of the road. Scan the lake from this point for divers and other waterbirds.  If you have a boat, the mudflats back up the creek to the right about 0.5 mi are good for shorebirds when the lake has been drawn down to winter-pool level; the draw-down usually starts in September (Thanks to Steve Stedman for these directions).

John B. Stephenson Memorial Forest State Nature Preserve in Rockcastle County - A 124-acre wooded gorge with two waterfalls. From Exit 76 on I-75, go east 3.5 miles on KY 21 through Berea, at the Boone Tavern bear right (staying on KY 21) and travel another 5 miles. Turn right (south) on to US 421 and travel 2.6 miles. Turn right on Burnt Ridge Road and travel 0.2 miles, then left on Himanns Fork Road and travel 3.4 miles. Look for a red brick house on the right (box 530); approximately one-tenth of a mile past the house make a sharp left turn down a steep hill on to Anglin Falls Road. Travel 0.9 miles on Anglin Falls Road to a sign that says "Anglin Falls" next to a mailbox marked "542 R2". Turn left and travel 0.2 miles to the parking area/trail head. For more information, check the Anglin Falls website.

Kentucky State Parks near I-75 - Big Bone Lick, Blue Licks Battlefield, Cumberland Falls, Natural Bridge, & others. For more information, check the Kentucky State Parks website.

Mehldahl and Markland Dams on the Ohio River - To get to the Mehldahl Dam, take Kentucky 9 (the AA Highway) south from I-275.  Shortly after entering Bracken County, turn left onto Kentucky 2228, then right onto Kentucky 8. After about two miles, watch for the very poorly marked turn to the dam, on the left. To get to Markland Dam, from Interstate 71 take Exit #57 to Kentucky Highway #35 (this is the Kentucky Speedway exit ). Go north on KY #35 to Warsaw, KY ( about 5 miles) & continue until you come to the stop light in Warsaw. Then turn left onto KY #42 & continue south on #42 to the Markland Dam (approximately 5 miles). For more information, check the Cincinnati Birds website.

Owsley Fork Reservoir east of Berea - From I-75, take exit 76 and go 9 miles east (and past the Berea College Forest) on KY 21. A gravel parking area is located next to the reservoir.

Quiet Trails State Nature Preserve in Harrison County - From Cynthiana, take U.S. 27 north approximately 10 miles. Turn right onto KY 1284, which leads into Sunrise. Continue on Pugh's Ferry Road after crossing the four-way intersection. The preserve is located on the right, 1.8 miles from the intersection. For more information, check the Quiet Trails website.

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary in Fayette County - From I-75, take exit 99 (Old Richmond Road), turn left onto Old Richmond Road (U.S. 25) and continue about 4.8 miles. Then turn left onto Jacks Creek Road. Raven Run is 5.2 miles down Jacks Creek Road, on the left. For more information, check the Raven Run website.

Sally Brown Nature Preserve in Garrard County - For directions and information about this area, visit the Sally Brown Nature Preserve website.

Central Kentucky

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - If southbound on I-75, take KY 461 south to KY 80, take 80
       west to U.S. 27, take 27 south to Oneida and follow TN 297 west into the park. For more information, check the Big South Fork website.

Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary in Woodford County - Take exit 58 off I-64 to US 60. Go east (right) on 60 and (within 0.3 mile) turn right on Rt. 1681, Duncan Road.  Stay on 1681 for about 2.5 miles.  Turn left (south) onto Rt. 1659.  Stay on 1659 for about 3 miles to Watts Ferry Road.  Turn right onto Watts Ferry Road (Millville School is on the right), stay on this for one mile to Germany Road.  Turn right onto Germany Road.  The entrance to Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary will be on the left in 1 1/4 mile. For more information, check the Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary website.

Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge in Boyle County - Located off Highway 37 on Carpenter Creek Road near Parksville, Kentucky. From Parksville, turn left on 1822 and drive two miles. Next take a right on Hwy 37, for 6/10 of a mile. Take a left on Carpenter's Creek Road. It's another 6/10 of a mile down Carpenter's Creek Road before you'll turn left into the parking area for the Wildlife Refuge. For more information, check the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge website.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Mercer County - The Nature Preserve at Shaker Village protects 3,000 acres covered by restored native prairies, woodlands, fields, and canebreaks. A number of trails provide access to the preserve. For directions to Shaker Village, check the Directions page on their website.

Thurston's Pond in Wayne County - From Bypass Hwy. 90 near Monticello, turn north at the light onto Hwy. 1275 & go 1.8 miles. Thurston's Pond will be on the left.

Wildlife Management Areas in central Kentucky - For more information, check the Wildlife Management Area website.

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery - Located 12 miles south of Jamestown (Russell County) on US 127. Follow signs to the hatchery. For more information, check the Wolf Creek website.

Near I-65

Beargrass Creek Nature Preserve in Louisville - A 41-acre urban forest with over 2 miles of hiking trails located across from the Louisville Zoo at 3745 Illinois Avenue. For more information, check the Beargrass Creek website.

Bernheim Forest - Bernheim Forest is located 25 miles south of Louisville and 4 miles south of Shepherdsville in Bullitt and Nelson counties. From Shepherdsville, travel 4 miles south on KY 61 and 2 miles east on KY 245 (click here for additional information, & here to see the Bernheim bird list).

Falls of the Ohio - From I-65 at Louisville, take exit 0 on the Indiana side and follow signs to Falls of the Ohio State Park. Best viewing is with a spotting scope from the State Park overlook; also walk downstream to view additional exposed rock shelves. For more information, check the Falls of the Ohio website.

Freeman Lake in Hardin County - For more information, check the Freeman Lake page.

Jefferson County Memorial Forest - The Forest has over 30 miles of hiking trails and is located in Jefferson County off the Gene Snyder Freeway (I-265) and I-65. The address is: 11311 Mitchell Hill Road, Fairdale, KY 40118. Phone # (502) 368-5404. For more information, check the Jefferson County Memorial Forest webpage.

Kentucky State Parks near I-65 - Barren River Lake, Dale Hollow Lake, Green River Lake, Lake Cumberland, Rough River Dam, and others. For more information, check the Kentucky State Parks website.

Knobs Loop Trail - includes Taylorsville Lake, Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, & Vernon Douglas Nature Preserve. For more information, check the Knobs Loop Trail website.

Mammoth Cave National Park - Located off of Exit 53 on I-65. For more information, check the Mammoth Cave National Park website.

Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area - Otter Creek Park is located 25 miles southwest of Louisville and can be reached by traveling from Louisville on US 31W and US 60 to Muldraugh, then going west on KY 1368 for 4 miles. For more information, check the Otter Creek website.

Transient Lakes in Warren County - Chaney Lake can be reached by driving south on US 31W from the junction of US 31W, US 68, & US 231 on the south side of Bowling Green, KY. Travel 8 miles, then turn right on a gravel road & travel another half mile to the lake. To find McElroy Lake, continue south on US 31W for another 2 miles (to Woodburn, KY), then go left on KY 240 for 1/3 mile, turn left again on KY 884 and travel 2.6 miles to the lake. For more information, check the Transient Lakes page.

Western Kentucky

Ballard Loop Birding Trail - West Kentucky, Ballard, Peal, and Swan Lake Wildlife Management Areas. For more information, check the Ballard Loop website.

Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge in Marshall, McCracken, and Graves counties - For more information, check the Clarks River website.

Hickman Bottoms and the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge - Located in Fulton County. For more information, check the Hickman Bottoms and Reelfoot NWR page.

Jonathan Creek Embayment (Kentucky Lake) in southern Marshall County - For details, check the Jonathan Creek page.

Kentucky Dam (on the boundary of Marshall and Livingston counties) - From I-24, take KY 453 and go 2 miles, then west for 1 mile on KY 62/641. For details, check the Kentucky Dam page.

Kentucky State Parks in western Kentucky - Kenlake, Kentucky Dam Village, Lake Barkley, and others. For more information, check the Kentucky State Parks website.

Kuttawa Heron Rookery & Roost - This is a dredge-created island in Lake Barkley, just southwest of the community of Kuttawa, which is near Eddyville.  Beginning in about 1994, Black-crowned Night-Herons began nesting on the island, and Cattle Egrets and Little Blue Herons moved in a couple of years later. The heronry is a magnet for area waders, and some transient or wandering birds may join the local nesters to return to the island to roost every evening in late summer.  For an hour or so before sunset to some time after sunset, large numbers of waders can be seen coming in to the roost during August & September.  In the evening, the light is best from the north side along KY 295, about a mile and a half south of the junction with US 62, a mile or so west of the I-24 interchange.  On 295, there is a sharp turn back to the east towards Kuttawa and a pulloff with an old gravel/paved lane that goes back to the lake. You can pull off there and watch the show from the old road or shoreline.  Another spot where many of the birds might actually be closer is from the overlook area at the Old Kuttawa Recreation Area, just to the east.

Lake Barkley - From May through October, Lake Barkley eco-cruises  (departing from Barkley Lodge, Lake Barkley State Resort Park)  offer an excellent opportunity to travel Lake Barkley to view many interesting birds, such as nesting Ospreys (June - July).  Other favorite locations include the powerline towers near Rock Castle, Kentucky, where ospreys nest and turkey and black vultures and double-crested cormorants routinely perch on powerline towers.  Additional highlights include an annual osprey nesting survey for all of Lake Barkley in Kentucky during the second week of July. Viewing is often close (about 40 yds. for osprey nests) but far enough away to prevent disturbance to the birds. Great Egrets are observed in numbers near Linton, KY, during the osprey nesting survey. Additionally, other specialty birding trips can be arranged. For more information contact Ed Ray: 270-924-5831 or email:

Land Between the Lakes in southwestern Kentucky - For more information, check the LBL website.

Metropolis Lake State Nature Preserve in McCracken County - From the junction of I-24 and US 60 in Paducah, drive west for 7 miles on US 60, then right on KY 996 for 5.9 miles. Turn right onto gravel road & drive past the gate to a parking area. For more information, check the Metropolis Lake website.

Open Pond (Fulton County) - Take highway 94 west out of Hickman, KY. Go about 8 miles to Sassafras Ridge (small green sign) and route 653. Make a right onto 653 and take the left fork. The road forks immediately after you make the right. Go 2.3 miles to dirt road on the right. This is Open Pond.

Peabody Wildlife Management Area and the Paradise Slag Pond in Muhlenberg County -The "Slag Pond" is located near the Paradise Steam Plant in the former town of Paradise, KY. This is part of the Peabody Wildlife Management area and a permit is required to enter. While there is no official check stand or entrance, entry without a permit can result in a significant fine. For directions to the slag pond, click here. For more information about the Peabody Wildlife Management Area, check the Peabody WMA page.

Pennyrile Birding Trail - Jones-Keeney, Tradewater, Pennyrile Forest, and White City Wildlife Management Areas. For more information, check the Pennyrile Trail website.

Pennyrile State Forest in Christian, Hopkins and Caldwell counties - To get there from the Western Kentucky Parkway take exit 24 (Dawson Springs) & follow Highway 109 South to Pennyrile State Park. Pennyrile State Park is located in the middle of the Pennyrile State Forest. Highway 109 also bisects portions of the forest. For more information, check the Pennyrile State Forest website.

Sloughs Wildlife Management Area, Sauerheber Unit, in Henderson County - Located about 10 miles west of Henderson on KY 268. From Henderson, take US 60 west to KY 136, turn west, then go 2.8 miles to junction with KY 268. Go 4 miles northwest on KY 268. For details, check the Sloughs WMA page. Sloughs is one stop on the Audubon Birding Trail.

Smithland and Smithland Dam in Livingston County - For more information, check the Smithland and Smithland Dam page.

Wildlife Management Areas in western Kentucky - For more information, check the Wildlife Management Areas website.

For additional information about good birding sites in Kentucky:

Pulaski County -

If you know of some good birding spots in Kentucky that aren't listed above, please get the relevant information to
Gary Ritchison (e-mail: & we'll add them to the list.

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