The Civil War Fort at Boonesboro

The Civil War Fort at Boonesboro provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy warmer weather, stretch your legs, walk your dogs and brush up on Clark County’s unique heritage.

Walking along the self-guided trail, visitors are greeted with interpretive signs that tell not only the history of the fort and the Civil War, but a history of the overall area including the early settlements, geology, geography and more. Remnants of the fortification walls and trenches overlook a picturesque view of the Kentucky River as visitors are able to stand within the walls of the once occupied Union fort.  

According to historical Civil War documents, controlling access to the major crossing points of the Kentucky River became an important part of the strategy of the Union army in late 1862 and early 1863. In the spring of 1863, construction began on a fort overlooking the Kentucky River in Frankfort and above the important river crossing at Boonesborough. Although the fort never mounted permanent artillery, the enclosed earthen fort continued to be manned by African American soldiers when Confederate cavalry periodically threatened. However, the grand design for the defense of the Kentucky River envisioned by the Union army was eventually abandoned.  

Today, visitors are invited to embark on a ½ mile scenic walking trail that was once a road constructed and used by Union Soldiers. The road was used as a major access route to the fortification stationed just above the hill. Soldiers brought construction materials, supplies, tools, and food up the arduous terrain by constructing switchbacks that were designed to decrease the grueling grade of the road. 

While at the site take a self-guided cell phone tour, by dialing (859) 592-9166, and follow the signs along the trail. You can start and stop the tour at any time. The tour highlights the important role African Americans played in the Civil War, including a first-person narrative of local Peter Bruner. Born into slavery, Peter ran away numerous times before reaching Camp Nelson, where he enlisted in July 1864. He served with the 12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery.  The tour also gives the history of the beautiful mural featuring the history of the Kentucky River located at the trailhead.With easy access granted from I-64 and I-75, visitors from around the country and the world, make a side-trip to enjoy an historic hike on a shaded wooded trail. For guest accommodation, amenities have been added including a restroom and shaded picnic area at the top of the hill for visitor enjoyment. Don’t forget your hiking shoes!