Profile Family-friendly & & FREE Things to do on a budget in Madison County Story & Photos by Sara Kuhl Lilyana Sawyer climbs the rock wall at Lake Reba Park in July. 6 Madison Magazine A P R I L- M AY 2 0 1 9 M adison County has a wealth of free family entertainment for those who go looking for it — right in their own backyard. Mike Hale, owner of Mike’s Hike and Bike, explained there’s everything to do in the county for the whole family, from running and biking to playing in a creek or canoeing on the Kentucky River. “Of course, there’s disc golf at Camp Catalpa, which you can go out and get the really nice disc frisbee … or go do it like we do: Grab a couple of cheap frisbees and go out. “It’ll get you and the kids out in the woods on a pleasant day for a walk,” he said. For bike paths, Hale recom- mended White Hall State Park, where a family can take hikes and walks together or go fish- ing. “Of course to fish, you have to have a license, but it’s free if you’re under 16,” he said. And in Berea for hiking and walking, there’s a path from the Artisan Center to Indian Fort Theatre. “It’s great riding the whole way,” he said. And there are lots of hik- ing paths at the Indian Fort Theatre, he added. Hale explained all the bike paths in the county are safe, off-road, multi- use paths, and they’re pretty easy to do, even without a lot of experience. Plus, the Indian Fort Theatre and White Hall both have education centers, Hale said. At the Indian Fort Theatre/The Pinnacles, the Berea Forestry Outreach Center offers seasonal guided hikes at no cost, according Aja Croteau, commu- nications manager for Berea Tourism. For those who prefer water activities, Hale also has recommendations for that. “If you don’t have your own boat, but if you have your own canoes or kayaks, there are four places my family goes to on a regular basis,” he said. Those include Fork Lake in Berea, the Kentucky River, Lake Reba and Wilgreen Lake, all of which also allow fishing. “Madison County has 65 miles of Kentucky River, and almost all of it you can paddle up,” Hale said. Wilgreen, he said, has free boat ramps and nice water, while Lake Reba typically has more people. “And the Kentucky River, you can swim in. You’re not supposed to swim in Lake Reba,” Hale added. He said the only real danger for those who are unexperienced in kayaking and canoeing is around the locks, but if families avoid the locks along the river in Madison County, everything is really safe. Hale advised to avoid creeks, though, because most of the creeks in Madison County are white water. “If you’re well-versed in white water, then they’re not that bad,” he said. For a different kind of fun, Hale men- tioned the skate park in Berea. “I grew up doing things outdoors, and I think that being in the woods, or doing anything outdoors, gives the children a lot more self reliance,” Hale said. “You’re not right next to them, and you have to let them go and do their thing.” He explained it also allows for them to get good physical exercise as well as Vitamin D by being in the sun.