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sunset above the mountains at a state park near paducha kentuckyPaducah, located at the convergence of the Ohio and Tennessee river, is the largest city in the Jackson Purchase region.

Surrounded by major American waterways, this city is also home to the Four Rivers area where Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers meet.

In 2013, Paducah was designated a UNESCO Creative City and has since been rapidly gaining popularity as a vacation spot for tourists wanting to soak in authentic culture and art, explore historic architecture, and embrace natural beauty.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast keen on visiting some of the best nature spots near Paducah, Kentucky, you’ll find this list of the five best state parks helpful.

Map of State Parks Near Paducah, KY

Here is a map of the state parks in Kentucky covered by this post:

List of State Parks Near Paducah

From breathtaking mountains with serene hiking trails to meandering caves and charming picnic spots, there’s a lot to do and see for both adults and kids at these state parks.

1. Columbus Belmont State Park

Location: 350 Park Road, Columbus, KY 42032

Located on the shores of the Mississippi River in Hickman County, Columbus Belmont State Park is an expansive park spanning 160 acres.

This scenic park offers a relaxing experience amidst the beautiful settings of the river cliff campground, which features 38 sites, grills, and utility hookups — perfect for a family getaway.

The state park also has two meeting rooms that blend into the surrounding forestland, making them idyllic locations for meetings, retreats, training sessions, small weddings, and other special events.

Steeped in American Civil War history, the park was initially the site of a Confederate fortification considered strategic by both the North and South. The park’s museum was once a farmhouse that also served as a Civil War hospital. The park is not only a National Scenic Byway but also a National Trail of Tears site.

The park is pet friendly as long as you keep dogs on a leash. You can enjoy recreational activities such as boating, miniature golfing, birding, hiking, and picnicking.

2. Kingdom Come State Park

Location: 502 Park Rd, Cumberland, KY 40823

True to its name, the magnificent Kingdom Come State Park in Cumberland is situated at 2,700 feet atop the Pine Mountain. Named after John Fox Jr.’s Civil War novel “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come,” this stunning park has a rich history.

The 14 hiking trails in this park cross nearly five miles of rugged mountain terrain, allowing you to explore the dense Kentucky forest while its eight overlooks offer breathtaking scenic views.

The park also features some of the most imposing rock formations in the United States, including Log Rock and Raven Rock.

You can purchase Kentucky handicrafts and souvenirs from the gift shop overlooking the lake. You might also want to visit the nine-hole miniature golf course near the gift shop.

Other attractions include pedal boating, picnicking, fishing, and outdoor theater performances.

3. Lincoln Homestead State Park

Location: 5079 Lincoln Park Rd, Springfield, KY 40069

Just north of Springfield is the Lincoln Homestead State Park, which pays homage to Abraham Lincoln’s early life. The park features both historic and reconstructed structures related to Lincoln’s father, Thomas Lincoln. It also houses the original home of his mother, Nancy Hanks.

Apart from its historical significance, the park has an 18-hole regulation golf course highlighting the rolling hills surrounding it. Visitors will be treated to stunning views and mesmerizing lakes. If you’re in the mood for fishing, you can scout largemouth bass as well as channel catfish in Lincoln Homestead Lake, spread across 7.6 acres.

Before you make your way home, visit the museum to learn more about the area’s history and explore replicas of Lincoln’s father’s smithy and the home of Lincoln’s favorite uncle Mordecai Lincoln.

In addition to this, you will also find a gift shop, picnic shelters, grills, restrooms, and playgrounds open year-round.

4. Lake Malone State Park

Location: 331 Ic-8001A, Dunmor, KY 42339

Spread over 338 acres, the Lake Malone State Park is located in Muhlenberg County and extends into parts of Logan and Todd Counties. Since being established in 1962, the park has undergone significant changes, more so in the past few years.

The secluded hardwood forests of this park are home to the 788-acre Lake Malone, commonly known as the “angler’s delight.” If you have a Kentucky fishing license, you can spend hours at this gorgeous lake, trying your hand at fishing for catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, or sunfish. There are watersports for the more adventurously inclined.

The park also offers three picturesque hiking trails — the 1.5-mile Laurel Trail, the 2-mile Twisted Tree Trail, and the quarter-mile Wildflower Trail. On these trails, you’ll discover awe-inspiring views of the many rock walls that served as shelters for prehistoric Native Americans.

The park is also home to three larger-than-life wood giants called “Big Twigs,” towering at 14 feet — “Bobber Maone” will welcome you at the lakeside, “Oakley Malone” can be found on the Lauren Trail, and “Happy Malone” is resting at the campsite.

If you visit the park during the summer, make your way over to the sandy beaches where you can cool down and relax after a day of adventure.

5. My Old Kentucky Home State Park

Location: 501 E Stephen Foster Ave, Bardstown, KY 40004

Located on a sloping 290-acre property deeded to the state in 1922, this sprawling mansion was built in 1818 by Judge John Rowan, a distinguished jurist who served on the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the US Senate. It inspired Stephen Collins Foster’s well-known song “My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night.”

Today, this iconic estate is a popular destination for campers. Its 39-site campground near Bardstown has a central service building with showers, toilets, and a dump station. A laundry and grocery store are also located just across the street from the park. While the campsite also welcomes pets, ensure they are restrained.

The park offers various indoor and outdoor activities, including Kentucky’s longest-running outdoor theater called “The Stephen Foster Story.”

Conclusion

Paducah, Kentucky, is a famous tourist destination offering several fun attractions and picturesque views of the waterways at strategic locations. It’s time to plan your perfect weekend vacation to any of the stunning state parks near Paducah.