Dogwood Trail

History and Local Legacy

The lighting of the dogwood trail in Paducah became a tradition in April 1964 when the Civic Beautification Board began the tradition of touring Paducah in bloom at night. In 1964 when Dolly McNutt, chair of the Civic Beautification Board, visited Knoxville, Tennessee, she was taken by the beauty of Knoxville's lighted dogwoods. When she returned to Paducah, she persuaded members of the CBB that sponsoring a lighted dogwood trail would benefit Paducah. The first trail was two blocks long along Sycamore in Paducah's west end. It is now a 10-mile driving tour traversing downtown, LowerTown, and other residential neighborhoods. The tour showcases Dogwood, Japanese Maple, Red Bud, and Weeping Cherry trees as well as blooming garden areas and other flowering species.

History of the Paducah Dogwood Trail Video (3:55 minutes)

In 2000, the Library of Congress accepted the Lighted Dogwood Trail as a Local Legacy.  The goal of the Local Legacy project was to document the creative arts, crafts, and customs representing community life across the nation.  The Lighted Dogwood Trail is permanently documented in the Library's American Folklife Center collections.  Members of Congress in every state submitted materials documenting nearly 1300 local customs and traditions.  The Lighted Dogwood Trail was submitted by Rep. Ed Whitfield (1st District).  

Luxury Travel Magazine included Paducah Dogwood Trail's 50th Anniversary Celebration among top Spring Flower Festivals Across America in 2014.  Birds & Blooms listed the Trail as one of the 8 Must-See Flower Festivals for 2018.

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2021 Dogwood Trail - 57th Anniversary

The 57th Annual Dogwood Trail will be April 12 through 18.  There will be four on-trail winners and four off-trail winners this year. The trail features approximately 12 miles of lighted dogwoods and spring plantings.  While the trees are in bloom, there will be Dogwood Trail signs strategically located at each turn in the Trail. The tour showcases Dogwood, Japanese Maple, Red Bud, and Weeping Cherry trees as well as blooming garden areas and other flowering species.

New this year: The Paducah Civic Beautification Board asks that streets and neighborhoods all across Paducah light up their trees and landscaping.  The Board is planning to reroute the trail for 2022 and will base the new route on the areas that showcase their homes the best this year.

2021 Dogwood Trail Map

2021 Dogwood Trail Winners

2021 Dogwood Trail Bicycle Ride with BikeWorld  The 2021 Dogwood Trail Bicycle Ride will take place Sunday, April 18 beginning at 2:30 p.m. from BikeWorld, 809 Joe Clifton Drive. This leisurely pedal will takers riders east to Fountain Avenue and then to neighborhoods in the city's west end before ending back to BikeWorld. The course is 11 miles with opportunities for riders to adjust the distance from a few blocks to a few miles to suit their wishes. The route is shared with motor vehicles (not closed to car traffic), but the streets are mostly residential, many with sidewalks, marked, and well signed with “Bike Route Today” notices. BikeWorld staff will ride the route on bikes to assist as needed. Should a rider encounter a mechanical or physical problem, a driver in a truck will be on call to help. Masks covering the nose and mouth are required until riders are on the route and safely spaced out. Helmets are required for the duration. No entry fee.  Bicyclists do share streets with car traffic and are responsible for obeying traffic laws. Children should be accompanied by responsible adults. If you have a question, contact BikeWorld at 270-442-0751.

Dogwood Trail Map for 2021


Trail and Art & Photography Contest Winners

2021 2021 Dogwood Trail Winners

As a show of unity during COVID-19, the Dogwood Trail prize money was donated to Community Kitchen.  

Dogwood Trail Children's Art Contest Winners for 2020 >>

2019 Dogwood Trail Winners for 2019

Dogwood Trail Winners for 2018

Photography Contest Winners:
1st Place:  Stephanie Young, Let’s Dance
2nd Place:  Phyllis Russell, Twist and Shout
3rd Place:  Cindy Jones, Spring Backwards

Art Contest Winners:
1st Place:  Debra K. Talbert, Cornus Virgiana, mixed media
2nd Place:  Carol Tribou, Dogwood in Blossum, watercolor
3rd Place:  Barbara Harris, Dogwood Designed, ink jet print

Lighting and Planting

Tips for lighting dogwoods, azaleas, and other spring flowers include

1) Use low watt outdoor halogen bulb light sets

2) Use weatherproof outdoor cords and connectors

To grow a dogwood

1) Select a well-drained site with afternoon shade and plant a nursery grown tree.

2) Plant in late winter or early spring.

3) Dig planting hole twice the diameter of the rootball and at least 18 inches deep.

4) Refill hole to depth of rootball with loose soil Tap soil to provide a firm base for tree.

5) Place dogwood in hole, spread the roots, and pack soil around and over the roots.

6) After planting, water and cover soil with mulch except at tree trunk

7) Water weekly during dry periods. When watering, soak root area well. Do not drown trees planted in poorly drained soil.