Celebrate Great Outdoors and National Camping Month in Winchester

Four years ago, June was officially designated “Great Outdoors Month.” Even further back, in the 1970s, June was named “National Camping Month.” It’s a busy month, June. Fortunately, Winchester has plenty of ways for you to get out and about and celebrate Mother Nature.

Here are nine ways to rock the Great Outdoors in Winchester:

  • Travel back in time. At Three Trees Canoe – Kayak Rental and RV Park, paddle to a world as ancient as the beginning of Earth’s very earliest plants and arthropods. It is one that dates back to the Ordovician Period of about 450 million years ago when Earth’s first coral reefs emerged in the seas and North America at times lay almost entirely underwater: The Kentucky River Palisades. Three Trees offers canoe and kayak rentals, full hook-up RV sites with picnic tables and fire rings, onsite restrooms and showers, boat dock and river access.
  • Hike a hidden gem: Inside the 400-acre Lower Howard’s Creek Nature & Heritage Preserve is the John Holder Trail, the only portion of the preserve open to the public. The 3-mile loop opens 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, giving hikers the chance to enter this wonderland of rare plant and wildlife species, historic and archaeological features and second-growth forest in a twisting limestone gorge that is considered to be one of the region’s most scenic places. With the trailhead located next to Hall’s on the River, visitors can fuel up for their hike or relax afterward over fried catfish, smoked ribs and pan-seared crabcakes. (And for Beer Cheese trailblazers, Hall’s is a stop on the Winchester-Clark County Beer Cheese Trail.) Trail parking is available in the lot behind Hall’s.
  • Family-friendly Red River Boat Dock and Campground offers tent sites, RV hookups and a few air-conditioned cabins, as well as bath houses, for campers staying at the historic Ferry crossing where the Red River meets the Kentucky River. Camping, fishing, hiking, live music, kayak rentals, cornhole tournaments, lots of food—there’s always something happening at this peaceful campground stretching out along Red River’s shoreline.
  • Stay the course: Play 18 holes at one of Winchester’s two public golf courses: Cassell Creek Golf Course and Southwind Golf Course. The former features 6,714 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72 on a course, which was designed by Danny McQueen and opened in 1961, with a rating of 70.0 and a slope rating of 116. Cassell golf course opened in 1961. The latter features 6265 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71, a slope of 113 and a rating of 67.1. Opened in 1992, Southwind was designed by Kent Arnold.
  • Treat yourself to an Insta-worthy view. Although very little remains of the earthen fort at the Civil War Fort at Boonesboro, it is well worth a visit for the views. Follow the 1-mile loop trail for panoramic sweeps of the Kentucky River Valley. Want more? Dial into a cell phone tour at 859-592-9166 and learn about this fort built and defended by Union Soldiers during the Civil War.
  • Play at a park. But not just any park—one that comes alive with the sound of music, courtesy of a one-of-a-kind climbing musical instrument. The Dulcimer Climber pays tribute to the Appalachian string instrument created in the 1800s and Kentucky’s most renowned dulcimer-maker, Winchester’s own Homer Ledford. Ledford handcrafted more than 6,000 musical instruments—many of them dulcimers—during his lifetime. (Learn about Ledford’s life and times at Winchester’s Bluegrass Heritage Museum.) This unique feature anchors the fun at Legacy Grove, a 30-acre accessible park with adventure play area with swings, spinners, slides, fort and an Exploration Creek kids can splash in, plus nature trails, walking paths and more.
  • Put your pedal to the metal. Ride the 28-mile River Route, a cycling experience for all levels, from the casual cyclist seeking a bit of a challenge to more experienced ones looking for a relaxing outing. Begin in downtown Winchester and follow the route south to the Kentucky River, riding along its banks before returning downtown. Download the map here.
  • Winchester is lucky enough to have two family-owned wineries producing not only artisanal wine, but hosting tours and tastings and other events. At Hamon Haven, tasting room hours are flexible Monday through Saturday so call ahead for tasting times. And if you’d like a charcuterie, let the winery know in advance of your visit; they’ll prepare one for your party to enjoy while sipping. (Additional cost.) Harkness Edwards Vineyards is open Wednesday through Sunday and is the site of several summertime events, including Golden Hour: 5-8 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 29; Sangria Sundays, 3-6 p.m. through Sept. 24, with bottomless sangria (bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets); and live music Fridays and Sundays featuring local and regional musicians. See “Events” for dates and details.
  • Star gaze the night sky. Head to the countryside for an overnight surrounded by acres and acres of rolling farm and pastureland beneath the open star-studded sky. Winchester has several perfect getaways for stargazing and enjoying the outdoors: stately Franklin Ridge Farm sits on 150 country acres and features a four-bedroom guesthouse with game rooms, front porch swings and outdoor firepit; Mt. Folly Farm’s two-bedroom Historic Log Cabin is perched in the midst of 1,000 acres where visitors can enjoy hiking, birding and biking around the property; and the three-bedroom Basin Springs House, whose music room features a Yamaha mini grand player piano, sits on five acres on the grounds of Peacock Ranch.