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Program 1010

1. Crooked Creek Barrens State Nature Preserve
2. Bat Cave/Cascade Caverns State Nature Preserves
3. Cumberland Falls
4. Rockcastle River
Season 10 Menu

Kentucky’s Last Great Places | Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Lewis County

For more information:
Crooked Creek Barrens State Nature Preserve, c/o Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, 801 Schenkel Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601, (502) 573-2886

Crooked Creek Barrens State Nature Preserve

In places, this 350-acre Lewis County preserve gives hints of undeveloped prairie spaces, with a multitude of grasses and flowering plants reaching taller than a person. The landscape also includes oak barrens and oak-hickory forest. In addition to prairie species like big and little bluestem, Crooked Creek protects five rare plants: starry false Solomon’s seal, white rattlesnake root, slender blazing-star, earleaf foxglove, and scarlet Indian paintbrush.

Dave’s guide this time around is Joyce Bender of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. Access to this preserve is by written permission only.

Carter County

For more information:
Bat Cave State Nature Preserve, c/o Dave Skinner, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, 801 Schenkel Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601, (502) 573-2886
Carter Caves State Resort Park, 344 Caveland Drive, Olive Hill, KY 41164-9032, (606) 286-4411, reservations (800) 325-0059

Bat Cave/Cascade Caverns State Nature Preserves

To the bat cave!

Carter Caves State Resort Park in Carter County is best known, of course, for the caves, including one where visitors marvel at a 30-foot underground waterfall and another where you can see artifacts left over from saltpeter-mining days. But among the park’s 20 caves, one has special status as a nature preserve because of some year-round residents: endangered Indiana bats. Along with park naturalist Sam Plummer, Dave encounters a few of the 28,000 estimated to inhabit Bat Cave.

A second small preserve on the park property was created on behalf of two rare plant species: the mountain maple and the Canadian yew. The microclimate at the mouth of Cascade Caverns is the only place in Kentucky known to harbor the yew.

The park and all its amenities, of course, are open year-round, including the aboveground portions of both preserves. But the Bat Cave is closed to humans from October through May to allow the bats to overwinter undisturbed.

Kentucky Life previously visited Carter Caves in our very first episode, Program 101.

Whitley County

For more information:
Cumberland Falls State Park Nature Preserve, c/o Kyle Napier, P.O. Box 102, Whitesburg, KY 41858, (606) 663-0362
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, 7351 Highway 90, Corbin, KY 40701-8814, (606) 528-4121, reservations (800) 325-0063

Cumberland Falls

Our next stop is also a preserve-within-a-park. Just off the more well-beaten paths of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is a 1,294-acre nature preserve that allows the more adventurous visitor to see several rare plant species—and several other waterfalls. Dave takes Trail No. 9 to scenic Eagle Falls, which also affords some excellent views of the park’s namesake 67-foot Cumberland Falls.

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park straddles the Whitley/McCreary county line; access is from U.S. 25W.

We’ve been here before, too, in Program 401.

Rockcastle County

For more information:
The Nature Conservancy, Kentucky Chapter, 620 Dormitory Street, London, KY 40741, (606) 878-7664
About the Rockcastle River from the outdoor adventure site GORP

Rockcastle River

Dave tackles the Narrows in the Kentucky Life canoe.

The watershed of the Rockcastle River, encompassing all or part of Jackson, Laurel, Pulaski, and Rockcastle counties, includes some rugged territory. In 1820, census takers simply gave up trying to reach parts of Rockcastle County. And the castle-like rock formations along the river, for which it and the county are named, provided ready-made fortifications for a Union encampment during the Civil War.

Today, the area is generally more accessible, but the river hasn’t lost its bite. A 15.9-mile segment from the Old Highway 80 bridge to Lake Cumberland has been designated a Kentucky Wild River and is the state’s top destination for whitewater enthusiasts. That stretch includes two boulder-strewn “narrows” sections, the Class IV rapid at Beech Narrows and the wild and crazy Lower Narrows, a three-quarter-mile section of almost continuous Class III and IV rapids. (Whitewater is classified on a scale from I to VI, with III being “difficult” and IV “very difficult”—even for those with lots of experience.)

Ever one for a challenge, Dave tackles the Lower Narrows in a canoe. While exploring the Rockcastle River environs, he also hikes one of the many riverside trails and visits Flat Lick Falls with Jackson Countian Rob Williams.

Kentucky’s Last Great Places | Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

SEASON 10 PROGRAMS: 1001100210031004100510061007
100810091010: Kentucky’s Last Great Places1011101210131014

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