GreenSpace Trails in Elizabethtown
Elizabethtown City Hall
The Elizabethtown Greenbelt is a series of walking trails and mini-parks around Freeman Lake, Buffalo Lake, Fisherman’s Lake, and along the streams that flow to and from them. There are over 18 miles of trails and two parks open to the public. These trails and parks provide places for passive enjoyment of natural areas. They are meant to preserve the natural attributes of the numerous local waterways, making Elizabethtown, Kentucky a pleasant place in which to live.
Preserve streams and the accompanying riparian areas for recreational, ecological, educational, historical and aesthetic values.
To provide places for passive recreation and to preserve the natural attributes of the numerous local waterways.
The Greenbelt Project
It began in 1971. A concept plan was adopted by the City of Elizabethtown in 1972. Greenspace, Inc. was formed in 1974 to work with the City to promote, develop and maintain trails and parks. Over 16 miles of trails and two parks are open to the public. The Greenbelt is included in the City's comprehensive plans.
It's a 501 (c) (3) non profit corporation eligible to receive tax deductible gifts. A board of volunteers serve on trail, publicity, finance and land acquisition committees. Titles, easements and leases are held on property. Major operating costs are: the salary of a trail supervisor, truck, movers and materials for bridges, signs and benches. An endowment fund has been established to provide supplemental funds and to receive memorial and bequests. A newsletter, Greenbelt News, is sent to all supporters.
Greenspace, Inc. makes the following trail use suggestions:
- Special Needs Hikers and Families with Small Children: Use paved trails. They are located at the North End of Freeman Lake, at the beginning of the John Helm Trail at Helmwood Plaza Shopping Center, or on the downtown Wintersmith Trail. The play area at the Rotary Scout Loop Shelter is also popular.
- Birders and Wildflower Lovers: Pirtle Nature Trail Loop, John Helm Trail or the Buffalo Lake Trail.
- Geocachers: You will find many of the trails full of ever-changing caches. Enjoy!
- Avid Hikers: If you would like a varied, 4-mile loop hike, park at Pritchard Community Center, walk under the US62 bridge and along the Wintersmith, Haycraft, and Cave Spring Trails to the dam at Buffalo Lake. After a rugged 2-mile hike around the perimeter of Buffalo Lake, it is a 1-mile hike back to the starting point.
Individual trail and hard copy maps are available at the Elizabethtown Tourism Bureau and Freeman Lake Park Barn Building.
Individual Trail Head Access Points
Banam Shaw Trail—1 mile
To access the trailhead, parking is available at the City Tennis Court parking lot across St. John Road. This trail is particularly popular with the Geocachers. This is a 1 mile trail along Shaw Creek from St. Johns Road to the Deerfield Hills subdivision, (and eventually to Rineyville Road). It is a particularly beautiful shaded trail built by Boy Scouts in 2004.
Billy Creek Trail-3/4 mile
To access the Billy Creek trailhead, drive about 1 mile west on St. John Road from the 31W Bypass. Park on the road near the City Ball Park. Walk across St. John Road in an easterly direction to access the trail. Future parking will be available at the City Ball Park.
Buffalo Lake Trail—2 miles
The trail can be accessed at the trailhead along Commerce Drive, at the 1.2M trail point from the end of Commerce Drive, and the 0.95M marker at the top of the dam by walking up the Cave Spring Trail and Haycraft Trail from downtown Elizabethtown. The 1.9 mile trail follows Buffalo Creek and circles Buffalo Lake. The area has been declared a Wildlife Habitat by the City of Elizabethtown. There is good birding and a fine representation of native flowers, trees and shrubs. The trail was developed and is often improved by Boy Scouts who have built bridges and a scout camping area, held clean ups and measured and mapped the trail.
Cave Spring Trail—1/4 mile
This 1/4 mile trail connects Buffalo Lake Trail dam to Haycraft Trail and Elizabethtown. This short dead end spur leads south off the Haycraft Trail where it runs into Buffalo Creek and runs north to Buffalo Dam. Historic Cave Spring, still flowing, provided the critical water supply to the pioneer Haycraft Fort and later to the Civil War camp Haycraft.
Emerald Cathedral Trail Merge Area—encompasses a one-acre area
At the junctures of Freeman Lake Trail, Pirtle Trail, General Braddock Creek and the Prairie Grass Meadow Trail.
Fisherman’s Park—1/4 mile
Located at the end of J Severns Lake/Valley Reservoir No 8 on Valley Creek Lane. To drive there, take 31W south from the Courthouse. Turn left at the light at the end of New Glendale Road, and immediately right onto Hawkins Drive. Turn left onto Rt. 567 (Valley Creek Road). At 0.6mi past the RR crossing, turn left onto Valley Creek Lane. The park entrance sign is 0.5mi on the left. The park is heavily used by fisherman.
Freeman Lake Trail—4.9 miles
The trail is a 4.9 circle around Freeman Lake. Markers identify each 0.2 mile interval. It can be accessed on the west side off Nalls Road or anywhere in Freeman Lake Park; on the north end at the Ring Road parking lot, on the east side by walking the Pirtle Nature Trail from the Pear Orchards parking lot and on the south end by walking the John Helm Trail from the Helmwood shopping mall.
The William Halfacre Trailhead, with parking lot and information kiosd for the Freeman Lake Trail, is located on the north end of the lake off Ring Rd. A short section of the trail is paved from there to the Mary Cofer Trigg bridge at Miller Creek. The rest of the trail is dirt, gravel or grass.
Three loop trails lead off the main trail; the 3/4 mile Pirtle Nature trail and General Braddock Creek at 1/4 M,. the 1/2 mile Claysville loop from the ends of the dam and the 7/8 mile rotary scout loop at the rotary shelter or 4.4 M.
The north and east trail areas are wooded while the south and west portions are across open mowed grass. The popular trail is used by runners and walkers who enjoy exercise, nature and fresh air.
Haycraft Mill Park—small patio park
It is accessed by stone stairs off East Dixie Highway across from the new Justice Center. There is a small parking lot across the railroad tracks. This is a small patio park straddling Valley Creek in downtown Elizabethtown. There is a parking lot and grassy hill on one side of the stream. Across the bridge there are steps down to a paved patio.
Haycraft Trail—3/4 mile
This trail follows Valley Creek generally north and south from Haycraft Mill Park. The northeast trail head is at a small parking lot beside the CSX Railroad and Hwy. 31W. The trail crosses Valley Creek on the John Severns Bridge. It continues along the wooded Valley and Buffalo Creeks and climbs a hill to pass historic sites and provide a view of the Buffalo Creek valley. At the 0.66 mile point it becomes the Cave Spring Trail which continues until a 0.9 mile marker on top of the dam and Buffalo Lake Trail.
Jacob Vanmeter Trail and Arboretum—1/4 mile
This 1/4 mile trail at the Elizabethtown Community Center was originally built by Boy Souts in 1990. It ran along Valley Creek from the Mulberry Street bridge to the city by-pass. In 1994 it was relocated to wind through the newly contoured land of the Arboretum project or Let's Spruce Up. The trail is dedicated to Josephine and Jim Puckett, active in scouting and descendants of the Jacob Vanmeters.
John Helm Trail—3/4 mile
This partially-paved trail extends from the Helmwood Shopping Center on Dixie Hwy., across Diecks Drive, and on to the Water Treatment Plant and dam at the southern end of Freeman Lake. This is an easy to walk wooded trail along Freeman Creek. It is a 3/4 of a mile long from the northwest corner of Helmwood Plaza to the Freeman Lake dam. The first 1/4 mile is 1 of 3 paved trails in the Greenbelt system. The hill above the trail was the site of one of three forts built by early settlers Thomas Helm, Andrew Hynes and Samuel Haycraft.
John Severns Trail—1/2 mile
The John Severns Trail follows along Valley Creek from its junction with Buffalo Creek to Springfield Road. This shaded 3/4 mile trail follows Valley Creek between its junction with Buffalo Creek and Springfield Road. The land was set aside by a local developer.
North Billy Creek Trail- 3/4 Mile
This is a 3/4 mile trail off St. Johns Road. Eventually it will connect by a Highlands Trail to Deerfield Hills subdivision and the Banam Shaw Trail and extend southward downstream to the city soccer fields.
Pirtle Interpretive Nature Trail
This is a pleasant 3/4 mile loop trail. It begins from a parking lot on Pear Orchard Road where, in 1976, junior soil conservationists planted rows of autumn olive. The trail passes through four types of woodlands: a young woods replacing a 1960 open field, a yellow poplar stand type, an oad-hickory stand type and a bottom hardwoods stand type. It is a g reat trail for spring wildflowers. Halfway around there are benches at a lovely hillside area called the Emerald Cathedral. It overlooks General Braddock Creek and is at the 1/4 mile marker of the Freeman Lake Trail which runs north and south from there.
Wildflower/Prairie Grass Meadow Trail—1/4 mile
This trail is located on property owned by the Presbyterian Church on Pear Orchard Road.
Wintersmith Trail—2/3 mile
This is a 2/3 mile paved trail along Valley Creek in downtown Elizabethtown. It passes under bridges on 31W and US 62. It connects the Haycraft Mill Park and Justice Center to the Vanmeter Trail at the Pritchard Community Center. Points of interes beginning at the justice center are: the Noel Woodland Patio, a Greenspace information kiosk, a fountain and pond, a side trail along a flood plain with a wildflower border, a Faeire Glade rest area, the Embry Lay Nature Thicket and a picnic shelter.