Rough River, Ohio County, Kentucky
Rough River, Ohio County, Kentucky

In Kentucky, we are proud to be the land of unbridled adventure with countless parks, caves, trails, waterways and other natural wonders that beg to be explored. There’s no question that we offer some of the best outdoor recreation and opportunities for physical activity through our preserved wilderness. In honor of National Park Week, we wanted to highlight the work of our friends in the National Park Service Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) that contributes to a healthier Kentucky.

How They Can Help

The National Park Service works with communities to make them healthier and more livable. They believe that making parks, trails and rivers safe, usable and accessible for all users is just as important to any individual community as the National Parks are to the nation. If your community has an idea for a bike path, hiking trail, waterway or park, the RTCA can provide free, on-location facilitation and planning expertise through regional or state-based field staff. The Kentucky Field Staff works with communities to:

  • Define project vision and goals
  • Inventory and map community resources
  • Identify and analyze key issues and opportunities
  • Engage collaborative partners and stakeholders
  • Design community outreach and participation strategies
  • Develop concept plans for trails, parks and natural areas
  • Set priorities and build consensus
  • Identify funding sources
  • Develop a sustainable, organizational framework to support the project
Trail planning workshop in Lewis County, Kentucky.


Current Projects

The National Park Service RTCA Kentucky Field Staff are actively working on numerous multi-year projects and consultations at various stages in planning that span over 40 counties across the state. Projects include:

  • Green River Blueway Water Trail: developing a master plan for the 325-mile water trail on the Green River in south-central Kentucky
  • West Louisville Nature-Based Recreation Planning: developing a strategic outreach and planning effort that will connect neighborhoods to community enhanced outdoor recreation facilities that will provide nature-based outdoor recreation programming for the at-risk youth
  • Rough River Water Trail: creating a water trail master plan for the 100-mile Rough River Corridor, a local recreation feature and regional linkage asset for the City of Hartford Trail Town certification
  • Bluegrass Bike Hike Horseback Water Trails Alliance – Phase II Trail Planning: expanding the Bluegrass Regional Trails effort to include three additional counties for a broader network plan that includes greenway plans for their long-range comprehensive master plan
  • Cave Country Trails Initiative: coordinating a regional network of walking, hiking, biking, equestrian and water trails that will connect communities, promote healthy lifestyles, attract new business and encourage regional economic growth
  • Three Corners Regional Trails: developing a regional master plan for the four-county, three-state area surrounding Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, transforming the southeastern region into a destination for all outdoor recreation trail users
First launch on a new access site to the Kentucky River.
Initial canoe launch on a new access site to the Kentucky River in Estille County, Kentucky.

Parks offer the perfect setting for many powerful experiences: connecting with nature, moving your body, finding yourself, and building relationships with others. And at the center of any visit, people learn about opportunities to explore the outdoors by getting active—whether strolling, hiking, biking, paddling or rock climbing. Parks are a great place for Kentucky to “Step It Up!” so what are you waiting for? Find your park!


Interested in learning more or applying for community assistance in conservation and outdoor recreation? Visit the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program website. Visit the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky for information about additional partnerships and programs working to increase access to physical activity.
How to Build a Park