If you love horses and nature, then a Chattanooga to Louisville road trip may be perfect for you. There are numerous opportunities to go trail riding all along this route. If you time your road trip itinerary from Chattanooga to Louisville correctly, you can take in the World’s Championship Horse Show, the Kentucky State Fair or the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, or the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville. There are also some fun non-horse-related activities to do along the way like exploring Mammoth Cave National Park and many great state parks, including Cedars of Lebanon State Park and Natchez Trace State Park.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park near Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, contains the world’s most extensive cave system. Over 130 types of animals live in the cave, but you'll have to look very closely to discover many of them. Experts have mapped over 412 miles of this cave, but they have only barely begun the task. The size of the rooms carved out by nature in this cave is fantastic. UNESCO has recognized this area as an important biosphere, and a great way to explore the part lying above ground is by following the 60 miles of horseback riding trails. Guided trail rides are available, and there are also over 19 miles of trails for biking. Hikers will want to hike the Cedar Sink Trail that descends 300 feet from the top of a sinkhole to its bottom. This trail is gorgeous in the spring and summer when wildflowers are in bloom. The Green and Nolin rivers are great places to fish for bass, perch, catfish, crappie, and bluegill, and you don't need a license.
Natchez Trace State Park
There are over 250 miles of riding trails at Natchez Trace State Park near Wildersville, Tennessee. You can reach this state park by going west for about an hour and 40 minutes from Murfreesboro. There is a horse campground available or stalls that you can rent daily. Additionally, pistol and archery shooters will love the ranges at this state park. The 23 hiking trails at this 9,629-acre park are great places to go birdwatching. In particular, look for great blue herons, pied-billed grebes, and American coots near Brown’s Creek and Cobb lakes. Rent a jon boat and fish for largemouth bass weighing up to 10 pounds on Brown’s Creek Lake. Anglers often bring home their limit of bass, bluegill, and catfish while fishing Pin Oak Lake. Cool off with a swim in Cobb Lake before heading to your RV to get dressed and enjoy dinner at this park’s restaurant.
Cedars of Lebanon State Park
There are over 12.5 miles of riding trails at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, and there's a nearby vendor who leads guided trail rides in the area. Many of the trails connect to those in Cedars of Lebanon State Forest if you're looking for more extended options. While at this park near Lebanon, Tennessee, explore Sadie Ford Heritage Farm and Cultural Art Center so that you can see the historic milking and livestock barns, the corncrib, and the house that workers initially built in the 1920s. The disc golf course is a great place to prove who the master of this game is among your traveling companions.
Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park
Instead of continuing north out of Nashville, head northwest to visit Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park near Gilbertsville, Kentucky. Ride through the woods and around the lake on a guided tour from a nearby vendor, or bring your horses. You're likely to see deer, wild turkeys, raccoons, foxes, and waterfowl during your ride, and there are over 200 nesting pairs of eagles that visit this park. The main thing that draws people to this park is the beautiful 160,000-acre Kentucky Lake. Mountain bikers have over 8.5 miles of trails to explore, and fishing, pontoons, and ski boats are available to rent. Largemouth, smallmouth, Kentucky and white bass, bluegill, channel, and blue catfish, crappie, and sauger fish can be easily caught on most days. The par-72 golf course plays 6,704 yards long, and you can rent clubs, riding carts, and pull carts. Challenge your crew to a game of beach volleyball before enjoying a dip in the lake’s refreshing water.
Belle Meade Plantation
Leave time to take the Mansion Tour to learn about the historic Belle Meade mansion located in Belle Meade, Tennessee, and the Journey to Jubilee Tour, which focuses on the experience of enslaved people who helped build this site. This is also where William Giles Harding and his son-in-law, William Hicks Jackson, developed the most successful thoroughbred horse-breeding operation in America shortly after the Civil War. Take the guided Segway tour to see the outbuildings, including the largest smokehouse from the late 1800s in the South and a large dairy barn. This is also a great place to taste Tennessee wine and bourbon, along with taking classes teaching you to pair wine with food.
The Thoroughbred Center
Since it is only 75 minutes from Louisville to Lexington, you'll want to explore The Thoroughbred Center. Get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to raise and train a racehorse by taking a tour at this barn that contains over 1,000 stalls. Watch horses practice on the racetrack and learn more about the racing industry. See the tack and other equipment used in the sport.
Old Friends Farm
Leave time in your road trip itinerary from Chattanooga to Louisville to visit the Old Friends Farm in Georgetown. Thoroughbred horses who are past their racing days are often sent to this rescue to live out their days in the farm’s peaceful surroundings. Take the 90-minute guided walking tour and meet 10-to-15 horses, which often includes horses that have run in the Kentucky Derby. Note that participants must be at least 10 years old.
The Red Mile
The Red Mile first opened as a harness racing track in Lexington in 1875. Today, you can watch exciting harness racing events at this venue from July through October. They also simulcast races from around the world. Races usually occur from April to October.
Kentucky Horse Park
Watch the parade of breeds and the horse shows at Kentucky Horse Park in Louisville. Then, take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about different breeds of horses from around the world. This park is home to four museums dedicated to various breeds and parts of the industry. Go on a horseback or pony ride.
You can find great campgrounds in Murfreesboro. Consider the Nashville I-24 campground where your family can splash around in the pool or the Poole Knobs Campground, where you can camp right on the lake. You can find Murfreesboro RV dump stations at Pacific Pride and the Exon. Be sure to leave enough time on your road trip from Chattanooga to Louisville to visit Stone River National Battlefield and Cannonsburgh Village.
Nashville RV campgrounds are easy to find. Consider Nashville KOA Resort, which is near many of Nashville’s music venues. Another great choice is Two Rivers Campground, which has a swimming pool and a well-stocked convenience store. You can find Nashville RV dump stations at Love’s Travel Stop, Anderson Road Campground, and Elm Hill RV Resort. Check the Percy Warner Equestrian Center schedule to see what's taking place there because they often host horse-related events, and plan on visiting the Grand Ole Opry and the CMA Theater.
Take advantage of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, campgrounds like Glendale Campground where you can go fishing and swimming, or Longview Park where you're sure to love the hiking trails and the swimming pool. You can find Elizabethtown RV dump stations at Love’s Travel Stop, Elizabethtown Crossroads Camp, or Skaggs RV Center. Check out the Historic State Theater to see what's happening there as the city has fully restored this venue to look like a 1940s movie theater. See the garden at the Brown-Pusey House before heading on down the road.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Chattanooga to Louisville, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Chattanooga or Louisville.