Kentucky Folk art, thoroughbreds, distilleries

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Four treehouses, each unique, loom high above hiking trails in a forest where the arborist-builder makes environmental sustainability a priority. Expect smartly designed and window-rich quarters with homey furnishings. The most modest unit has battery-powered lanterns, propane appliances, a water jug sink, composting outhouse, and offsite shower. The other extreme: full electricity, indoor plumbing, a flush toilet, and a spring-fed hot tub.

Treehouses are at Red River Gorge Geological Area: 29,000 acres with sandstone cliffs and natural stone arches in Daniel Boone National Forest. An hour southwest is folk-artsy Berea, home to weavers, instrument makers, and other artisans.

This arc-shaped arrangement of 15 tepees is a national landmark, open since 1937 as No. 2 in a nationwide series of tepee villages. Only three of the seven villages remain. Each wigwam is a freestanding motel room with one or two double beds, a private bathroom, and cable TV. Furnishings are made of the village’s original hickory wood. 270.773.3381

Mammoth Cave National Park, eight miles west, is the world’s longest cave system underneath 53,000 acres of forest. Hike for miles, above or below ground. Kentucky Bourbon Trail, whose 18 stops include distilleries within an hour north, shows how deeply the liquor is rooted in Bluegrass State heritage.

On four acres are four elevated canvas tents with king-size beds amidst a blend of antique and vintage furnishings. The tents share two privies that have flushing toilets. Book time to bathe or shower leisurely in a private but open-air enclosure that has a lounging area. Cook over charcoal grills or a fire pit. Elsewhere at this resort are cabin rentals and watercraft to explore Stoner Creek, usually 10 to 12 feet deep and good for fishing or bird watching.

Two miles away are tours of century-old Claiborne Farm, former home to Secretariat. Or, think four wheels with a weekday tour of Toyota’s largest U.S. plant, 20 miles west of home base.

Photos courtesy Forest Woodward