Outdoors offers off-campus attractions

Natasha Allen

Reactions to Bowling Green from Western students run the gamut.

For some, Bowling Green is the biggest city they’ve ever lived in and they crave the comforts of home – deliverable in the form of open fields, the smell of wild honeysuckle and occasional glimpses of wildlife.

For others, Bowling Green is laughably small and boring. The transition from a bustling metropolis has left them searching for things to do.

Either way, Bowling Green has potential. The south campus lawn is not the only option for local outdoor fun for students in need of a retreat from the Hill.

Despite popular belief, the most beautiful places in Warren County are not limited to the popular area attractions sought by tourists.

Western’s Outdoor Recreation and Adventure Center (ORAC) Coordinator Luke Bartlett said students should make a point to get outside and explore the area.

“For starters, it’s a great way to relax and to just get away from the hustle and bustle of it all,” he said. “And if you’re going out on a long hike or something there’s some exercise benefits as well.”

Louisville senior Andrew Edelen spends much of his time scouting out the region’s natural hot spots.

“I just like going out (to these types of places) because it’s a big change in environment,” Edelen said. “You get away from all the chaos of school and work and all that stuff. It’s nice and quiet. I guess in a way its going back to your roots.”

Edelen and several of his fellow Sigma Chi fraternity brothers spent some time canoeing 14 miles of Green River this summer.

“That’s a really fun trip,” he said. “And it’s only like 25 to 30 minutes away.”

The group rented their canoes from ORAC, located in the Preston Center. A weekend canoe rental package cost them $25. Daily rental for a canoe or kayak package is $15.

Any student interested in participating in ORAC activities can sign up for a trip on the first floor of Preston. The organization is sponsoring trips from Sept. 18 through winter break, and costs range from $20 to $1,200.

Edelen said he likes to take trips every couple of weeks during summer months, “even if it’s just going down to the (Nolin) lake.” He said he has to cut back to about once a month during school. Cumberland, Dale Hollow Lakes and Shanty Hollow are other typical retreats for Edelen.

“We rappel out there a lot,” he said. “It’s such a rush.”

Keith Reidford, a senior from Poseyville, Ind., and a member of Kentucky Rock and Sport Trust, Western’s climbing club, actually changed his major from dietetics to outdoor recreation after exploring several of the area’s outdoor retreats.

“I’m really into bouldering and sport climbing,” Reidford said, citing Clifty Hollow, Stump Bluff, Dismal Rock and Shanty Hollow as some of his favorite places to climb.

“There’s really all kind of places to find around here actually,” he said.

Among many others, Reidford said some of the biggest benefits of outdoor activity are friendly outdoor communities filled with “really great people,” and the fact that as an individual you’re able to set goals and see them through.

Erika Brady, a modern languages and intercultural studies professor, said the outdoor retreats around Bowling Green were her “salvation” during her first few years here, and she still treasures them today.

“I think the instinct to find places of quiet refuge runs very deep in us,” she said. “Animals and children love enclosed, safe places and seek them out for safety and pleasure; we carry that impulse into adulthood, but the complications of our lives make it a bit more of a project to create or seek them out.”

One of Brady’s favorite places to visit was a small artesian spring beside one stretch of Trammel Creek.

“I’m a great believer in running water as part of these places that comfort and renew you,” she said. “When I first came to Bowling Green, I learned a lot about hidden, lovely places from several friends who fish.”

Brady also suggested students visit to a non-traditional local retreat which would provide students with an interesting learning experience.

“Another way to refresh yourself is a visit to the Mennonite enclave in Allen County,” she said. “Members of this faith community live according to very strict rules, many of which remind visitors of rural life in the 19th century.” According to Brady, produce, baked goods and preserves are sold from stall stands and the porches of homes along this route during much of the year, but she recommends students be aware they are visitors and respect the culturally-rich environment.

“If you are not willing to dress modestly, speak softly and politely and quietly appreciate the way of life on its own terms, you should go elsewhere,” she advised.

Tammy Thompson, an employee of Lost River Cave and Valley located near the intersection of Cave Mill and Nashville roads in Bowling Green, said they recently released more than 100 butterflies in the butterfly house that opened in May. It will be open to the public until Labor Day.

“We’ve been getting seven or eight species native to Kentucky,” she said.

Lost River Cave offers students 2.5 miles of intertwining nature trails, among other things like guided cave tours. The cost is $2.50 for adults and kids get in free.

Jackson’s Orchard can be a great way for students to get a taste of the country.

“A lot of people come out here for the festivals and the food,” said Charlie Spinks, a Jackson’s employee.

Among the concession options are caramel apple chips ($1.50 plain, $2 with nuts), fried apple and peach pies ($1.75 plain, $2.75 with ice cream) and fresh, hot apple cider (50 cents for a small cup, $1 for a large).

The orchard’s annual Pumpkin Festival will be held in October, at which hay rides, pumpkin painting, pumpkin picking and concessions are among highlights.

You can pick your own apples from the orchard beginning Labor Day weekend.

General Directions to these and other area locations:

To get to Green River: Travel on 31-W, 20-25 miles north. Veer off on 101 and follow signs to Houchins Ferry.

Gasper River: Go north on U.S. 231 to Jackson Bridge Road

Mennonite enclave in Allen County: Drive south on U.S. 231 and turn right about a mile past Halfway on KY 1332. After a couple of miles, turn left on Squire Liles Road. (Drive carefully, as horse-drawn buggies are abundant!)

Trammel Creek Spring: Take U.S. 231 south to U.S. 31E (if you turn right) and instead of taking that turn continue on past the BP station on 980 to a T-intersection. Turn right on 101, and immediately turn left on 2160. Go about 5 miles to Concord Church Road. (1147) and turn right, crossing Trammel Creek. On your left, you’ll see a small church. Pull off on the right and park. The artesian spring comes up through a pipe, and there is an adjacent stretch of creek.

Jackson’s Orchard: Take KY 234 (from 6th Ave.) to KY 185. Travel two miles to Slim Island Road. The address of the orchard is 1280 Slim Island Road.

Reach Natasha Allen at [email protected]