Outdoor Activities

Hiking trails at Camp Nelson National Monument

Walking/Hiking Trails

Find a wealth of information both inside the visitor center and outside on Camp Nelson's walking trails. These trails provide opportunities for viewing a beautiful central Kentucky landscape and stretching your legs, while learning about various sites that made up the busy and complex Camp Nelson supply depot.

Park grounds are open daily, dawn to dusk. Pets must be leashed. Please clean up after them. Do not collect or disturb animals, plants, or artifacts.

Earthworks and fortifications are fragile and will erode quickly if walked or climbed on. Climbing, walking or standing on the earthworks is prohibited. Visitors should keep to the trails near these areas, and keep their leashed pets from walking on earthworks. Help us preserve these historic features and stay on the designated trails!

Find more information about the trails, including an interactive map, on the Jessamine County trail site.

Fort Trail

0.5 miles (0.8 km)
The Fort Trail is a half mile loop beginning at the White House, near the parking lot and Visitor Center. This meadow trail offers views of infantry entrenchments, Fort Jackson, one of the earthen forts built to protect the camp, and the reconstructed barracks. Visitors learn about the defenses of Camp Nelson and the experiences of the soldiers and officers living at the camp.

There is little to no shade on this hike.

Depot Trail

0.5 miles (0.8 km)
The Depot Trail is a half mile loop that begins at the visitor center and extends south toward sites associated with the supply function of the camp, like warehouses, government shops and the bakery. Visitors will pass by the camp prison and merchant’s row, where soldiers purchased specialty foods and goods. These buildings were dismantled after the Civil War, but visitors today will see flags marking the locations of camp buildings.

The Depot Trail offers views of the officers’ spring with its dry-laid limestone retaining walls. The spring was for the exclusive use of officers and was guarded by a detachment of USCT soldiers. The spring is a characteristic of the karst geology that defines central Kentucky, and accounts for sinkholes throughout the historic landscape at Camp Nelson.

There is some shade on this trail going down the hill and near the spring and prison. This trail includes walking down and back up a moderately sloped hill.

Fort Putnam Loop

0.3 miles (0.5 km)
The Fort Putnam Loop is a .3 mile trail that begins behind the visitor center. Following archeological excavations, Fort Putnam was reconstructed to offer visitors a visual representation of Civil War era earthworks and to provide insight of how the Defenses of Camp Nelson functioned during the Civil War. In addition, the obelisk at Graveyard No. 1 marks the resting place of nearly 300 civilian refugees.

There is little to no shade on this hike.

Long Fort Trail

1.3 miles (2 km)
The Long Fort Trail begins east of Fort Putnam. This 1.3 mile trail presents three more earthen fortifications: Fort Pope, Fort Taylor and Fort McKee, as well as the engineers’ quarters, corrals and stables. This hike highlights the defenses and engineering designs of Camp Nelson and the camp’s logistical role as a rehabilitation center for nearly 14,000 horses and mules.

Since this trail is through the open field, there is no shade on this hike.

Fort Jones/Overlook Trail

1.2 miles (1.9 km)

The Fort Jones/Overlook Trail begins about a mile from the Visitor Center. Visitors must walk to Fort McKee to reach the trailhead for this hike. The trail leads the visitors through the eastern side of the park, where they can see Fort Jones and the two Stone Forts, which acted as the eastern defenses of Camp Nelson along Hickman Creek. Fort Jones, with its extensive revetment walls, is one of the best-preserved Civil War forts in the state. The Stone Fort Overlook offers views of Hickman Creek Valley.

This trail goes through the woods and has plenty of shade. The walk to the trailhead, via the Long Fort Trail has no shade. It is prohibited to walk or stand on earthworks and fortifications. Visitors should keep to the trail to help preserve these fragile structures.

Last updated: November 26, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

6614 Old Danville Road Loop 2
Loop 2

Nicholasville, KY 40356


(859) 881-5716
The phone is usually answered 7-days per week, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Voice messages are checked regularly.

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