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Please visit this article on the new website: Kentucky – Cecil L. Gorley Naturalist Trail

Kentucky – Cecil L. Gorley Naturalist Trail

Located at the geographic center of Kentucky is the small city of Lebanon, nicknamed the Heart of Kentucky. My kids and I traveled to this cute town recently for a weekend. We explored the annual Marion County Country Ham Days festival on the first day of our visit. The next day provided an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the area. We headed to nearby Fagan Branch Lake.

Fagan Branch Lake in Lebanon Kentucky

The lake is actually a reservoir that was constructed in 1992 by the Lebanon Water Works, primarily as a source of water for the community, but it has also become a recreational area. It’s a popular spot for fishing and has a boat ramp.

Fagan Branch Lake Boat ramp

My kids weren’t in the mood for fishing, so we decided to take a hike instead. The Cecil L. Gorley Naturalist Trail encircles the lake.

Cecil Gorley Naturalist Trail

We grabbed a couple of water bottles and headed out on the trail. The entire loop is 3.2 miles long. When we headed out we hadn’t decided if we were going to go the whole way around, or just hike part of it and turn around. We were soon captivated by the beauty of the woods and the views of the lake.

Views of Fagan Branch Lake from Cecil Gorley trail

If you hike all the way around the lake, you’ll cross 47 bridges!

One of 47 bridges on Gorley Trail

There are several hills along the trail.

Hills on the Gorley Trail

My kids loved the hike. I kept stopping to take pictures and they started getting further and further ahead of me.

Hiking on the Gorley Trail in Lebanon Kentucky

Eventually I gave up on trying to keep up with them and just enjoyed the hike on my own.

Beautiful hike - Cecil Gorley Trail

One of the prettiest spots was about halfway around where there was a pond next to the lake. It felt so peaceful there.

Peaceful Fagan Branch Lake - Cecil Gorley Trail

Once you reach the halfway point, you might as well go the rest of the way around the lake instead of turning back. I’m glad we kept going. Most of the trees were still green, but a few of them provided a first glimpse at the fall color that was on its way.

Hints of fall color on Cecil Gorley Trail

At one point I began wondering if I’d see my kids again before the end of the trail. There were a few benches and picnic tables along the way. Eventually I caught up to the kids resting at one of those spots.

Kids love hiking the Gorley Trail

Only three of the four kids could fit on the bench, so one of my daughters had to find another place to sit.

Interesting tree on the Gorley Trail

Toward the end of the trail (or the beginning–if you start going the other direction), we saw a cute little island in the lake.

Island in Fagan Branch Lake

All of us enjoyed the beauty of the Fagan Branch Lake and the Gorley Trail. My only complaint is that there weren’t any restroom facilities (not even portable toilets) on the trail or even at the trailhead.

Tip: either pick up a map at the Lebanon Visitor Center or print a map before you leave home.


Ready to visit?

Cecil L. Gorley Naturalist Trail
Fagan Branch Lake
370 Fagan Branch Rd.
Lebanon, KY  40033

Free admission

Open year-round


Many thanks to the Lebanon Tourist & Convention Commission for hosting our visit.



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