Key At-A-Glance Information
Length: 1.83 miles
Configuration: Loop with out-and-back
Difficulty: Moderate, but plan for a rugged hike due to the possibility of fallen trees
Scenery: Dinsmore Homestead, log cabin, cemetery, forest, and ravines
Exposure: Mostly shaded
Trail Surface: Soil and exposed rocks and roots
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Driving Distance: 40 minutes south of Cincinnati
Maps: USGS Lawrenceburg
Wheelchair Accessible: No
Facilities: Restrooms at homestead when it is open
For More Information: Dinsmore Homestead, (859) 586-6117; Kentucky State Nature Preserves, (502) 573-2886
Special Comments: Finding the trailhead and staying on the trail is difficult because trail maintenance in minimal.
Dinsmore Homestead is on the National Register of Historic Places. This early-19th-century site and surrounding 107 acres was donated to The Nature Conservancy in 1985 by Mrs. Martha Breasted, a Dinsmore descendant.
The homestead was converted into a museum that provides a glimpse into daily life in the early 1800s. In fact, the museum looks as if you’ve stepped back in time and are walking through a family’s home—and they might just be in the other room. Tours are available Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday on the hour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment.
More information about the history of the Dinsmore Farm is at www.dinsmorefarm.org. Julia Dinsmore (1833–1926), who inherited the land, kept a daily journal and was a published poet. Her accounts of daily life during this time period serve as invaluable glimpses into the past.
The forest on this property is primarily an unaltered old-growth hardwood
forest composed of sugar maple and white ash trees, as well as white, red,
Shumard, and chinquapin oaks. This area is also well known for wildflowers in
the springtime, including larkspurs, spring beauties, and wood poppies.
Walk behind the home to the log cabin. This is fun to explore with small
children, as there’s a spinning wheel, cooking implements, and other items from
this time period.
Continue walking up the hill behind the home toward the Wine House.
The hillsides were once a well-maintained vineyard during the 1800s and early
spicebush. At the top of the hill under the canopy of tulip trees is the buffalo
clover recovery zone, the Dinsmore Cemetery, benches, and the trailhead for
the Dinsmore Woods State Nature Preserve. The cemetery is to the left and surrounded
by a stone wall. From the hilltop where the cemetery is, one could see
the Ohio River and into Indiana.
The nondescript entrance to Dinsmore Woods State Nature Preserve is to
the right, along the edge of the woods. Walk on one of the small footpaths
through the tall buffalo clover to the trailhead.
The wood sign for the preserve, near a large, fallen tree, nearly blends into
the surrounding area. The trail is directly to the right of the sign. Trail maintenance
is minimal, so you may encounter several downed trees on the path.
Cross the trees, if it is possible and safe, rather than going off-trail through this
When you enter the woods, pass through an area of pawpaws and spicebush
under a canopy of American beech and some enormous tulip trees. This
is a beautiful forest with light trail traffic. If you are seeking solitude, here’s
your chance to find it—well, except for the occasional airplane noise from the
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
At 0.32 miles, when the trail splits, follow the trail to the right. Watch for
the green trail medallions to help stay on the correct trail rather than accidentally
following a well-worn deer path.
A multitude of songbirds challenges your identification skills. Listen for
red-eyed vireos, chickadees, nuthatches, wrens, and wood thrushes, plus many
more. Near 0.43 miles, on your right, you’ll pass a large red oak tree with
grapevine growing up into its canopy. Next is a large white oak on the left as
you head uphill.
The forest is now composed of tulip trees, a few hickories, and Ohio buckeyes.
As the trail leads downhill into a low-lying area at 0.49 miles, basswoods,
locusts, sugar maples, pawpaws, and spicebush comprise the forest structure.
Pass the old farm fencing and watch out for the rusty barbed wire at 0.51
miles. Immediately after the fence is a hackberry tree. Hackberries are in the elm
family and have bumpy or bubbly-looking bark.
At 0.54 miles, the trail heads downhill and appears to end before turning
sharply to the left and back uphill. Cross over the stream and take notice of the
impressive sycamore trees.
The trail winds along a shelf on the hillside. To the left, the hillside is covered
in sugar maple, tulip, and oak trees, while to the right it is covered in grapevine.
Look for signs of wild turkeys near the heavy, gnarled ropes of grapevine.
Several honey locust trees are to either side of the trail at 0.67 miles. Cross
several small creeks over the next 160 feet. Pawpaws and sugar maples begin to
dominate the forest structure at 0.84 miles.
Reach the flat stone at the top of the hill and continue along the ridge of
sugar maple and Ohio buckeye trees. The trail leads into an open, flat area at 1.4
miles, with plenty of hackberry trees. Then it heads downhill through a forest
with very little canopy.
When the trail rejoins itself, continue straight ahead. Follow it to the trailhead,
then turn left to get to the path that leads downhill to the homestead and
GPS Trailhead Coordinates
UTM Zone (WGS84) 16S
Latitude: N 39 degrees 00' 2.77"
Longitude: W 84 degrees 48' 47.25"
Boone County Cliffs State Nature Preserve, Big Bone Lick State Park, Fort Thomas Landmark Tree Trail, and Curtis Gates Lloyd and Mullins wildlife management areas are all great places to hike nearby. Florence Mall offers plenty of shopping and dining.