Shelbyville was established in 1792 as the seat of Shelby County, and the town preserves its rich history with architecture dating back over 200 years. Situated between Lexington and Louisville, Shelbyville is surrounded by beautiful Kentucky horse country—which means excellent trails nearby, though you might have to share with bigger four-legged friends.
Just 18 miles south of Shelbyville, Taylorsville Lake State Park features a 24-mile trail system open to both leashed dogs and saddled horses (so look before you step). The 3,000-acre Taylorsville Lake has the distinction of being KY’s most heavily stocked lake, so bring your fishing gear.
There’s a furrific trail in the heart of Shelbyville, too. The Clear Creek Greenway is a mile-long paved walking trail running from 7th Street to Stratton Bottom Park. Plans are underway to extend it another two miles north to Clear Creek Park, proving foot and paw access to Lake Shelby from downtown. Phase three will extend the greenway south to Red Orchard Park, too, connecting all the city’s major green spaces to the heart of the business district.
When your pups are ready for an urban adventure, Louisville is only a half-hour away. You’ll find a 24-hour emergency vet there if you need it, along with 19 — yes, we counted — pet supply stores and 168 dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating. The state capital Lexington is less than an hour’s drive from Shelbyville, too, so your pups have all the creature comforts they could want.
At 130 acres in northern Shelbyville, Clear Creek Park is the city's largest green space and a wag-worthy hiking destination. The scenic shores of Lake Shelby will have your buddy begging for more. Splash in the water or leash up to take on the park’s many trails. The Warrior Fitness Trail and Wilder Fitness Trail are each one mile long (one-way for Warrior and looped for Wilder) and located near athletic facilities. Meanwhile, the mile-long Soil Conservation Trail loop and the 0.75-mile one-way Cherokee Primitive Trail provide a more natural setting with views of the lake. There's more to explore in the neighborhood, too. Just north of the Clear Creek Park is the Lake Shelby Campground, where you’ll find the trailhead for the Squire Boon Trail through the Lake Shelby wetlands.
Downtown Shelbyville’s good sidewalks provide the pawfect on-leash historical walking tour. Main Street crosses 1st Street through 11th Street downtown, a 10-block stretch leading through 3 separate districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In the East Shelbyville Historic District near 3rd Street, Federal and Gothic Revival buildings date to the town’s founding in the 1790s. The Shelby County Courthouse and Commercial Historic District are the bustling heart of Main Street, so let your fur-babies slow down while you window-shop. Finally, the grand late-nineteenth-century Greek Revival homes of the West Shelbyville Historic District start at 7th Street. If your pups are ready for a break from traffic, you can continue the history lesson at beautiful Grove Hill Cemetery, first established in 1854. Town ordinances require that you scoop any messes that happen along your walk — but of course, you would do that anyway.
In southern Shelbyville, 131-acre Red Orchard Park was once a farm, and the rolling hills and mature trees (the orchard was planted in 1792) are a peaceful retreat for you and your fur-baby. The 5-acre fenced Bark Park is a main attraction. Membership is required, so bring vaccination records to sign up, then enjoy a comfy bench while your pup frolics with his new friends. If you need your exercise, too, explore the park’s hiking and equestrian trails. The one-mile Bluebird Way loops around the perimeter of the park, and a number of shorter trails cross and connect to stretch your journey an additional mile. Play equipment and exercise stations dot the trail, so you can boost your workout even if your short-legged friends are pooped. A well-kept subdivision across from the park’s entrance has good sidewalks to add extra length to your journey.
The name says it all: Shelby Trails Park is all about the trails. At 480 acres, Shelby has 21 separate carefully-maintained trails that welcome on-leash dogs. Founded as a public equestrian park and nature preserve, Shelby Trails features a large barn and all kinds of fascinating smells for your pups to enjoy. Ten of the trails are reserved for pedestrians (and paw-destrians, of course) so it's easy to download the trail map from the park’s webpage and plan a horse-free route for skittish pups. The woods and meadows are so peaceful that you’ll forget how close you are to shopping and a nice dinner. Grab burgers at Johnny Rockets — or just skip dinner and go straight for ice cream — on a pet-friendly patio in Downtown Simpsonville.
Now and then, even small-town pups want a taste of the city life. With Louisville only 30 miles away, it’s easy to plan a doggy day out. Running along the river throughout downtown, the scenic Louisville Riverwalk connects the excellent waterfront parks, including two designed by famous NYC Central Park landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. You can stop for a bite on the patio at Joe's Crab Shack right on the water, or veer into the city to find a dog-friendly outdoor table at one of the many hip bars, breweries, and bistros downtown. If you and your buddy have both been very good boys, consider a couple of stops along Highway 60 along your route home to Shelbyville. The Blue Dog Bakery — a human bakery with dog-friendly outdoor seating —is just a few blocks away from the Three Dog Bakery pet supply store featuring handmade specialty dog treats.