Fall is a great time of year to get outside with your kids and there are countless places to explore in Cincinnati. But there is a hidden gem just 35 minutes south of downtown in Union, Kentucky that also deserves a visit or two! Big Bone Lick State Park is a historic area that your kids will actually want to visit. You can walk through history at this 813-acre park and there is plenty to do to enjoy some fall family fun.
Although we live in Northern Kentucky, I’ve never taken my kids to Big Bone Lick State Park. It’s been on my list for a while and with the leaves starting to change and a free afternoon, we decided to check it out. I have one child who loves to hike through the woods and another who prefers open space, so I was wondering how we’d fare at this particular trail-friendly park. Turns out, it was perfect for all of us and we thoroughly enjoyed the history, variety, and surprises around every twist of the gravel paths.
We started our visit appropriately at the Visitor’s Center and newly refurbished museum. It’s small, but my little ones loved the large skeletons of prehistoric animals (Sloths were HUGE), and I enjoyed the nice restrooms and air conditioning on an unseasonably warm day. After grabbing a few maps, we first walked the short paved portion of the Discovery trail that is right behind the building. Here you can see a statue-like recreation of ice age-era animals and their final days. Fair warning – it brought out quite a few questions from my four-year-old, like “Why are those birds eating those guts?” and “Are those mammoths the same thing as elephants?” You may need to do a little research before going, ha! If you homeschool, definitely check out this park!
Beyond the center is a longer trail through the woods to take you to the salt creek, which I would definitely recommend but we did not try ourselves. Instead, we were eager to get to the infamous Bison that call this park home, so we headed down the Bison Trail that’s located adjacent to the parking lot. After a lovely .2-mile walk along a gravel path (heavy duty strollers would work here), you reach a large open field, surrounded by a fence. We walked down a bit and there they were – a heard of Bison, America’s largest land mammal. It really was a very cool site to see and the kids were certainly intrigued.
Big Bone Lick also has a small lake, if you enjoy fishing and beautiful views. We drove over to a small parking lot and then you have to hike up a rather large hill (no stroller here) and steps to reach the lake. We only stayed there for a minute to take in the view, which you’ll probably want to do as well if you go with small children. Older children would love to hike around the lake.
Big Bone Lick is small enough to explore with the entire family, but with a variety of landscapes and activities. The park hosts many events throughout the year, including the popular Salt Festival coming up October 13-15. You can check out all of the events here.
Big Bone Lick State Park is located at 3380 Beaver Road Union, KY 41091. For more information on the park, visit its website here.
Feature image credit: Facebook/Kentucky State Parks
A native Cincinnatian, Andrea has experienced life in all four corners of this city. After growing up on the west side, she headed north to attend Miami University, then moved east to Hyde Park and now lives in Northern Kentucky with her family.
When she’s not playing trains and doing the “hot dog dance” as a stay-at-home mom to her two toddlers, Andrea is busy writing for Cincinnati (and, ahem, Kentucky!) publications and brainstorming ideas for her next children’s book! With a newfound passion for fitness and overall health, she spends a lot of time at her family gym and loves to play outside.
Andrea worked in education for several years and has a special love for children’s literature. She loves showing her children all our city has to offer and enjoys sharing her finds with other parents. Her favorite spots include the Cincinnati Zoo (although she steers clear of the bird house), her local library and any playground.