Kentucky is a state known for its horse racing, moonshine, bluegrass and coal. It’s rich history provides people with all sorts of activities and opportunities to explore. Metal detecting enthusiasts can easily find a home in Kentucky. The numerous Civil War battles throughout the state offer treasure hunters ample opportunity to explore.
On top of the metal detecting opportunities, you’ll have the chance to explore multiple state parks as well as Mammoth Cave National Park. This national park contains one of the largest cave systems in the world. You’ll have plenty to do throughout the Bluegrass State and metal detecting is a cherry on top.
Here is a list of the 15 best places to metal detect in Kentucky.
1. Basil Griffin Park- Explorable Variety!
Kentucky is fairly strict on its metal detecting rules and regulations. You must do your research before you choose a place to visit. Basil Griffin Park is located in Warren County and stretches across over 110 acres. There are 10 baseball/softball fields, disc golf course, trails and amphitheater as well as a 33-acre lake.
Locations like these aren’t always available in states across the country. Water, trees, trails and a variety of activities mean a wonderful place for people to search. Parks in Louisville and a variety of other cities ban metal detecting so you have to take advantage of the cities that allow it.
When searching parks with a variety of attractions, go where the people are. Most people will be near the playground, ball fields as well as the water. Spend most of your time here and then move out into the trails as well as the other features of the parks. As long as you’re willing to put in the work and do some exploring, parks like these can be wonderful.
2. Elizabethtown Nature Park- Freeman Lake Finds
Elizabethtown Nature Park is a 104 acre park in Elizabethtown Kentucky. This park has an extensive trail system, a nice pavilion. This park is also very close to Freeman Lake. Freeman Lake is an extremely popular lake with beaches and trails that people enjoy.
There is a veterans memorial within the park that is completely off limits to detecting. Don’t detect anywhere near this memorial or you will likely be hit with an exceptionally large fine and may lose your detector. As long as you stay a good distance away from the memorial, you’ll have plenty of treasure to find.
Again, you must spend your time in the areas that people congregate. Go to the park on a weekend and see where people like to spend their time. Take another visit during the week and you’ll likely have it close to yourself.
Having the right tools to dig with makes a HUGE difference when Metal Detecting. Digging items quickly allows you to work more ground. I recommend three tools:
- Lesche RS Hand Trowel (link to Kellyco) – This hand shovel ROCKS
- Lesche Ground Shark (link to Kellyco for price and availability) – Essential on EVERY outing for me!
- Lesche Mini Pick If I’m in the woods cutting through roots and digging out rocks.
3. Madisonville City Park- Avoid the Golf Course!
Madisonville City Park is a 250-acre park in Madisonville, KY. It’s one of the largest city parks in Kentucky. There is a specific rule in Kentucky that says you aren’t able to detect on golf courses so be sure to stay away from the course in the park. The walking trails, ball fields and Elmer Kelley Stadium are located within the park.
This park has a nice variety of activities so it’s going to bring in quite a few different people. The more types of people that flow into an area means the better chances you have at finding some pretty miraculous treasure.
If you do happen to find something that you can return to somebody, be a good samaritan and do so. People always appreciate something being returned to them! It’s an automatic day maker.
METAL DETECTING TIP: When you’re detecting in a city park, be sure that you don’t crowd those around you. Metal detecting is already heavily regulated in Kentucky so it’s best to minimize potential complaints. We don’t need any more regulations put on us!
4. Radcliff City Park-Ampitheatre Potential!
Radcliff City Park is one of the most well-attended parks across Kentucky. It has quite a few attractions including a skate park, disc golf course, picnic areas and a playground. The opportunity to search these areas doesn’t always come around in Kentucky.
Remember, the parks within Louisville are off limits along with the state parks and national parks across the state. Be respectful and don’t cause too much disturbance within these areas because you’ll likely have to deal with city officials who will potentially ban detecting in the park for good.
While you’re at it, catch a concert in the amphitheatre! There’s always a nice amount of live music. Visit the ampitheatre the day after the concert and you’ll likely have a chance to find some pretty miraculous artifacts.
5. Lake Cumberland- Bring your fishing pole too!
Lake Cumberland is Kentucky’s largest lake. It has over 2,025 acres of shoreline for people to explore. Be careful, however, to stay out of the Lake Cumberland State Resort Park because this is state owned land and metal detecting is not allowed.
This area brings in around 4 million people every single year. This makes every metal detecting enthusiast drool. There are few areas in the east that are as popular and allow for metal detecting. The beaches are going to be your best bet.
Remember, when you’re metal detecting beaches, you want to search for the low points in the sand. These low points are going to be the areas that hold the treasure. Visit the beach early in the morning or late in the evening because these are going to be less popular.
When detecting on the beach it’s also smart to wear headphones. The sound of the water and people can make it difficult to hear the tones of your detector. Either wired or bluetooth headphones are going to work quite well.
Bring your family and fishing poles because there are some spectacular fishing opportunities all along the shore!
6. Green River Lake
Green River Lake is a 3,000 acre lake near Adair, Taylor & Casey’s Counties. There is a large state park that surrounds the lake that has plenty of camping, boating and hiking opportunities. These are all off limits for detecting since they’re in a state park, but there are a variety of recreational areas that you’re able to detect.
The beaches, parks and picnic areas outside of the state park are phenomenal. They’re heavily visited and people are often careless with jewelry and other valuable items in these areas. Again, it’s another wonderful place to bring your family! Sneak the detector in the back of the car and escape for a few hours to do some detecting.
Also, the fishing for bass and musky in this lake is phenomenal! Visit this area in the late summer or fall when you’ll have it to yourself and won’t have to worry about getting in the way of other people looking to enjoy the prime locations.
7. Nolin River Lake
This uniquely named lake is nearly 3,000 acres large. It can be found in Central Kentucky and there is a 135 acre state park on the shores that is off limits to detecting. You can camp here, but spend your detecting time in the recreational areas.
Nolin River has quite a few beaches for you to explore. When you’re detecting on beaches, manually set your sensitivity. Sand can mess with your sensitivity so determine what works and commit to that.
Also, you can search the parking lots near these recreational areas. They’re going to hold quite a bit of treasure that people drop while loading and unloading their vehicles. People can become frustrated if you crowd them while they’re spending time at the lake so stay courteous.
8. Herrington Lake
Herrington Lake is Kentucky’s deepest lake. There is no state park that surrounds the lake so the only area that is off limits is the Pete Dye Peninsula Golf Resort. There are a nice amount of hiking trails and beaches to spend your time searching.
This lake spreads across Mercer, Garrard & Boyle counties. These aren’t far from some fairly important Civil War sites. Be sure to take your time, adjust your sensitivity and be patient. Metal detecting isn’t going to automatically produce a massive amount of treasure.
With patience and some practice, you’ll find yourself with some more knowledge on where to look and how to search.
9. Taylorsville Lake
Taylorsville Lake may be one of the most popular lakes on this list. It’s around 1,200 acres and can be found along the Salt River. If possible, you can canoe or boat down the river and stop along the public shore and do some detecting.
This method of detecting can be extremely successful. If you’re willing to put in the extra work and go where not many other people venture, you’ll have a higher success rate of discovering something that not many others could.
River beds are a very common area for treasure to wash up because of the rising and lowering of the water levels. Take your time and work your way down river and see what you can find. It’s best to do this in a small craft so you can easily tie things off and walk up near shore.
It can be a fairly tiring process, but often well worth the time! It’s a type of detecting that many treasure hunters have never even tried.
Warning: If your metal detector isn’t completely waterproof you might not want to scan beaches. When a metal detector manufacturers WATERPROOFS a unit it has been designed to keep SAND, SALT WATER and MOISTURE out. Don’t ruin your machine get a waterproof unit – I highly recommend the: Garrett AT MAX link to Kellyco
10. West Paducah
West Paducah is an old abandoned town near the South Bank of the Ohio River. There have been numerous coins dating from the 1800’s found in the area. This is a wonderful spot to hunt if you’re interested in abandoned towns!
Waterfront property similar to this is not always easy to find. Also, there was rumored to be $5,000 of gold hidden near Paducah courtesy of the Cole brothers. The gold has yet to be recovered so it’s a common area for people to search. If you’re interested in old gold searching opportunities, West Paducah is the place for you.
It takes some effort to get to, but it’s well worth your time. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to find seclusion and almost have the entire place to yourself.
Russellville is a wonderful place to search. Jesse James is rumored to have buried $50,000 worth of gold in the area after a bank robbery. The parks within Russellville are open to detecting. Russellville Park is a perfect place to start your hunt.
When you’re detecting in the area, stay away from any sort of historical sites. However, you should have plenty of opportunity to search within this large park. When digging, don’t go any deeper than 6-12 inches.
Holes deeper than this can be difficult to fill and can cause issues with vegetation growing back. City officials will clamp down hard on treasure hunters if they find that the ground is being too heavily disturbed. This town isn’t located far from Mammoth Cave National Park so once you’re done detecting, go ahead and make a visit.
This is a perfect place to detect if you’re staying in the area. Also, you’re not too far from Nashville if you’re interested in detecting in any areas near the city. Call this place your home for a few days and see all that the area has to offer. It’s beautiful and filled with a nice variety of attractions.
Packard is a ghost town in Kentucky that is just south of Williamsburg. It was a mining camp in the early 1900’s. At one point, 400 people lived in this town and it was a thriving area that was a train stop on the way to Kentucky.
Now that the land is abandoned it is a perfect place to start treasure hunting. You’ll potentially find some mining equipment or even old scrips that are worth a considerable amount of money. Since it’s located on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky, be careful that you aren’t crossing state lines.
It’s not a very large area, but the railway station and post office areas have the potential to hold some beautiful treasure. Give it a try!
13. Mushroom Mines
The Mushroom Mines are a very interesting place to search. Located in Lawton, this was the site of an old limestone mine that has the potential to lead to some impressive finds. It’s since been the site of teen parties and other gatherings so the treasure you may find could be quite a few coins and bottle caps.
Be careful of any extra equipment or glass laying around the area. As long as you’re not too disruptive you should have plenty of area to explore. Replace and fix your digs and city officials won’t be too strict with what you can and can’t do.
With detecting, asking permission and being respectful can go quite a long way!
I’m always getting asked what equipment I use. I’ve been recommending the same solid metal detecting equipment for years.
- My first metal detector was the Garrett Ace 250 (link to Amazon for current prices and reviews). This machine is still working great after 6 years. I keep it around for “group” treasure hunts.
- I’m currently sweeping with a Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector (Link to Amazon for Prices). Since I bought my AT PRO Garrett has come out with a package that includes wireless headphones. Getting tangled up in a wire when your on your knees digging is a pain. Check out the Garrett AT MAX package with Z-Lynk Headphones and Pin Pointer (Link for great prices over at Amazon)
- When it comes to digging two tools are a must have. 1. A hand trowel -I recommend the Lesche Digging and Cutting Tool (link to check it out) and 2. A sand scoop – the one I’m using is the CKG Sand Scoop with Handle (Link to Amazon for current price and reviews) A good sand scoop is a game changer for beaches.
- Finally get a good pinpointer. I have an older Garrett Pro, but the newer version – Garrett Pro-Pointer AT with Z-Lynk is completely waterproof to 20 feet and hooks up to your wireless headphones.
While the name is quite humorous, this town has seen a steady decrease in population over the past 75 years. Now, only about 30 people live in this town. Stay in the public areas and don’t enter private property and you should be good to go!
Abandoned towns are a blast to search. You won’t have any trouble uncovering quite a bit of treasure. It likely won’t be a massive amount of valuable artifacts, but you should keep yourself busy for an entire day. If you’re located near Ballard County, you can go ahead and give Blandville a try for your next detecting adventure.
15. Private Land
There is a massive amount of private land in Kentucky that would be amazing to detect. If you have a friendly personality, you have the opportunity to search some amazing land. You’ll likely have to walk up to some doors, knock and put on a brave face, but it could lead to a lifetime opportunity.
People in Kentucky are not always happy about strangers entering their land so do so at your own risk. Visit local restaurants and museums and start asking around. You never know what you’ll be able to find if you’re willing to ask.
Kentucky is fairly strict when it comes to metal detecting. All state parks, national parks and forests as well as a variety of city parks are off limits. Check with each county before you go metal detecting.
Some cities don’t have the laws on their website so be sure to call the city manager to find out the information regarding what is and isn’t legal when it comes to detecting. Detecting in Louisville is completely off limits, but many of the smaller towns across the state allow for it.
Don’t be too disruptive anywhere you search. The metal detecting community is hanging on for dear life. We need to be as respectful of the laws as possible! It’ll be more beneficial in the long run.
Kentucky Metal Detecting Clubs
Central Kentucky Research & Recovery Team– This club has its own Facebook page and is quite responsive to messages. If you’re wondering about anything regarding metal detecting in Kentucky, this is a great club to join. They’re going to treat you well.
Northern Kentucky Treasure Hunters– Northern Kentucky is a hotbed for treasure hunting. The linked website will give you everything you need to get in contact with someone about joining the group. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Favorite Metal Detecting Shops in Kentucky
Vance Metal Detecting– Located in Shepherdsville, this is one of the best metal detecting shops in the entire state. Affordable equipment combined with great customer service makes this place a great spot for your business.
Go on Your Next Metal Detecting Trip to These Awesome Locations!
David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.