Going green: Columnist shares her favorite places for summertime exploration

Summer is winding down and school is almost here again, but there’s still some time left to enjoy the beautiful natural areas Kentucky has to offer.

I have many favorite places to go hiking and explore that are right here in central Kentucky. Here are some that you could easily visit if you have a day free:

Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge

Being the president of the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge, I’m very partial to its more than 500 acres of preserved lands. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great place for a peaceful hike in the beautiful Parksville knobs.

There are 9 trails totaling about 6 miles you can hike. The trails range from a leisurely stroll around Island Pond to longer hikes with substantial elevation changes.

The refuge is only 15 minutes from Danville, but it feels much further. There are many lakes that often attract waterfowl and lots of bridges to walk across. It’s open from dawn to dusk every day. One of my favorite spots to visit is Green Heron Pond.

Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve

Situated on the northern edge of Garrard County along the Kentucky River, Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve is less-well-known than some of my other favorite spots, but can be just as beautiful.

The preserve’s trail goes through woods populated with lots of birds, down to the river’s edge in the palisades area, and then up again to give you some impressive views of the palisade cliffs.

A lot of the trail is fairly easy, but the parts going down to and up from the river are very steep.

My favorite spot at Tom Dorman is the lowland wooded area right before you get to the river.

Taylor Fork Ecological Area is a unique place owned by Eastern Kentucky University and maintained by students. It is a 60-acre natural area located minutes from downtown Richmond, but you have to drive through several farm fields and a pair of cattle gates to get there.

Once you make it there, there is a small parking area for no more than half a dozen cars. It’s a well-kept secret — I’ve only ever run into one other person on my visits there. There’s a main loop trail with many cutoffs. Educational signs along the trail inform visitors about the different plants and animals found there.

My favorite spot is a bench along a hill that has a view of EKU and Richmond.

The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles in Berea are extra special to me because that’s where I got married. The Pinnacles are located out Highway 21 and have some of the best views you’ll find in Kentucky. It can be a steep climb sometimes, but once you get to the top, it’s always worth it.

My favorite view is from Indian Fort Lookout, which has panoramic views stretching out for miles around.

Anglin Falls

Anglin Falls is located near Mount Vernon in the John B. Stephenson Memorial Forest. It is about a .75 mile hike through the woods to the falls. The hike is mostly uphill and a little challenging sometimes, but the view of the falls is definitely worth it. Make sure to visit after it has rained recently to make sure the falls will be flowing well. There are benches along the way to allow you to take a rest and admire the beauty around you.

Make sure you allow time to sit at the waterfall and relax. My favorite view — besides the waterfall itself — is from a bench located just up the hill from a creek you cross near the beginning of the trail. 

IF YOU GO

• Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge is located at 600 Carpenter Creek Road in Parksville, off Ky. 37.  

• Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve is located at the end of Jess Brim Road. To get there from Danville take U.S. 27 north and turn left onto Ky. 1845, just before the Jessamine County line. Jess Brim road will be your fourth right. 

• Taylor Fork Ecological Area is located off McKinney Skills Drive near the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training in Richmond. For more information visit http://bit.ly/TaylorFork.

• The Pinnacles are listed in Google Maps as “The Pinnacles Hiking Trails”, off of Ky. 21 three miles east of Boone Tavern in Berea.

• Anglin Falls is located in the John B. Stephenson Memorial Forest State Nature Preserve. Directions are available at http://bit.ly/AnglinFallsKY

Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week

Painted turtles change from carnivorous to omnivorous during their lifetimes. Young painted turtles eat mostly worms and insects, but adults eat plants and animals.

Photo by Amanda Wheeler
Hikers sit underneath Anglin Falls in the John B. Stephenson Memorial Forest.

About Amanda Wheeler

Amanda Wheeler is the children and teen services librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library. She has a master's in zoology education from the University of Miami and has taught as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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