Environmental Education

Environmental Education

Environmental Education

Learn about Boone County's environment!


hike the trails logo


Self-Guided Hikes at the Boone County Environmental and Nature Center

9101 Camp Ernst Road, Union, KY 41091


Registration is not necessary but if you would like updates please register for the month you intend to come.

Please sign-in at the Shelter house upon arrival and sign-out before departure.

Gates close at 2:00pm.

Hike the Trails is when the Boone County Environmental and Nature Center is open for the public to explore the property.  During these events, participants will sign in at the main shelter house by the parking lot and then explore the property on their own or with friends and family.  Before leaving, we ask that all participants sign back out at the main shelter building.

Along the trails are signs with numbers.  These signs correspond with a self-guided booklet that discusses plant ID and special features along your hike.

Registration is not required to attend Hike the Trails but it is preferred.  This gives us the opportunity to email you if rain closes the trails or if there is not enough staff to have the Nature Center open.


During spring, summer, and fall seasons, Hike the Trails allows anyone to come in and explore the property through three managed trail systems.

  • Red Trail: 3 miles of mature forest filled with maple, oaks, and beech trees.  It includes some difficult-to-climb hills and a woodland creek.
  • Yellow Trail: 1.5 miles of moderate difficulty filled with mature forest and passes the vernal ponds.
  • Blue Trail: 0.5 miles which travels through the grasslands, past the wildlife viewing building, and to the ¼ acre pond.

The Environmental and Nature Center is not always open to the public.  It is mostly restricted to programs and events held by the Boone County Cooperative Extension Service.  The gates are closed and locked when events are not occurring.  If you do not sign in, we either do not know you are on the property or do not have a way to reach you to tell you the Nature Center is now closed and the gates are being locked.

Once you sign in, we know that someone is on the property.  Without a sign-out time, we assume that you are still on the property when it is time to close and will call you to let you know we are closing.  It also alerts us to anyone that might be lost or hurt on our trail system if you have not returned by the time we are scheduled to close.  We will take the appropriate action to make sure all parties are safe and accounted for.

The facility was built for educational programming, which takes priority over recreational hiking.  Although exploration of our natural areas is highly important to learn about them, sometimes we have programming that needs to be uninterrupted by outside groups, due to this we ask that you only come during times that are open for the general public.

We also do not have the staff available for the Nature Center to be open at all times. Hike the Trails has only been possible with the help of Master Gardeners and background-checked volunteers.

Yes, there are bathrooms located at the main shelter building at the entrance of the property.

Sure!  There are picnic tables and trash cans under the main shelter building at the entrance of the property.  There are 3 additional shelter houses which include benches, but they do not have trash cans.  Please leave no trace when bringing lunch and snacks onto the property.

We ask that pets are not brought onto the property.

Yes!  Although we cannot accommodate all requests, we do take into account which days would be best for the community and try our best to make those days or times more readily available. 

Use the link to fill out the form to leave your feedback: Hike the Trails Feedback 

Environmental Education allows individuals to explore the environment and environmental issues. As a result, many develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues and take action to improve the environment personally or at a community level. It is important to us at the Boone County Cooperative Extension to give research-based environmental information to assist individuals in critical thinking and problem-solving to address local environmental issues as they see fit. We do this through ongoing educational programming for all ages and backgrounds throughout the year.


Be sure to check out upcoming events to learn more about the programs we plan to offer!

Join our email list:

Click here!


Learn More:

Click here!

Additional Information

Kentucky Master Naturalist


Interested in becoming a Kentucky Master Naturalist? 

We are closed for our 2023 Kentucky Master Naturalist program. We will offer it again in 2025. 

Click here to sign up for updates

KYMN logo

An image of the Boone County Nature Center Shelter surrounded by lush forest and green grass.

The Boone County Environmental and Nature Center is about 118 acres with about 100 of those acres being forested or grassland-managed areas.

Nature Center access:  The Boone County Environmental and Nature Center is only open during programs.  Occasionally throughout the year, the Nature Center opens to the public to explore at their leisure (Hike the Trails). 

Each year the Nature Center hosts environmental, horticultural, and 4-H programs.  Over 1,000 students visit each year from nearly every school in the county to engage in hands-on field trips that follow state guidelines and at no cost to the schools or families.

Hundreds of residents enjoy guided tours, horticultural programming, bird watching, wildlife management practices, maple syrup production and so much more. 

The facility also includes vernal ponds used as Jefferson Salamander breeding habitat, a wildlife viewing building, a small pond, a woodland creek, native grasslands, and a native pollinator plot.



There is a 1-acre garden and orchard located on the property to teach hands-on horticultural programs.  Some of these programs include best gardening practices, how to raise cut flowers, best vegetable varieties, and lots more.

Thousands of pounds of fresh produce are grown every year from the garden and donated to local food banks providing healthy, nutritional food to many of our neighbors in need.

Lacey Kessell

Extension Agent, Natural Resources and Environmental Education, Agriculture and Natural Resources

(859) 586-6101 lacey.laudick@uky.edu Boone County Extension Office 6028 Camp Ernst Road, Burlington, Kentucky 41005-0876

Gary A. Stockton

Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources

(859) 586-6101 gary.stockton@uky.edu Boone County Extension Office 6028 Camp Ernst Road, Burlington, Kentucky 41005-0876

Contact Information

6028 Camp Ernst Road P.O. Box 876 Burlington, KY 41005-0876

(859) 586-6101