First off, this is an awesome trail. It is completely paved and is shaded for roughly about 2/3 of the whole 2.5 mile loop. Incredible scenery, loved the bridges over the creek, and it was full of spectacular nature, plus it was challenging from the rolling and steep inclines and descents within. It was also nice that there was a playground and restrooms with close parking to the trail head. Plus, one might think it’s not long enough, but trust me- it was a workout!
However, there are a few concerns one needs to be mindful of. Much of the trail is cracked or buckled from tree roots growing under the pavement which made for a VERY rough ride on some parts. Also mud,debris, and other hazards like fallen tree limbs will likely be encountered, so pay attention. You will want to use a mountain bike or at least a bike with thicker wheels. On the day we were there, I was pulling a toddler trailer with my youngest son in the back. He giggled at first because of the “bumps” but started to not like them eventually. Make sure if you are pulling a trailer that you have descent ground clearance, and no other items except maybe a water bottle because your children will be “bounced” a lot. Plus, you will want hand breaks and the ability to shift gears...some of the hills are very steep and to maintain control you will likely have to “ride the brake” and shift gears frequently. My wife and oldest son ride bikes that are traditional pedal brake bikes which made the trail less fun for them on a few of the slopes and those occasional sharp turns. But they both enjoyed the trail, and just adapted. There was also a section of this trail that was “slanted” or leaning toward a cliff edge. This made me a little nervous as a parent with the trailer and also having my other young child riding his bike there as well because the trail is narrow. But we didn’t have any issues. Also, a significant portion of this trail runs through a golf course. There are “cart crossings”....and greens that are adjacent or connect to the trail....be mindful of this possible hazard if the golf course is busy. At one point a cart was parked next to the bike trial and they were searching for a ball. Minor thing, but with the turns and blind spots, had I been riding fast, there might have been an accident. And of course, having my family with me, made me perhaps a little anxious about the potential reality of someone getting hit by a golf ball.
In short, it was a great trail, but it rode more like a mountain bike path than a paved trail. It is family friendly but not family “easy.” So use caution with the above mentioned concerns. Would I take my family there again, sure.....like I said....awesome trail...just be aware of the unique conditions so it is an enjoyable experience for all. FYI....we rode the whole trail twice that day....had a picnic between..... With an additional ride back down to the creek because my oldest son wanted to and my youngest fell asleep in the trailer and napped on the way....even with the bumps...so they can be navigated and not be too cumbersome. In short, pay attention and enjoy this little gem of bike trail at Barren River State park.