I have often said that Kentucky surely must be the most beautiful state in the nation with its rich biodiversity and natural resources (including of course, it’s warm, welcoming people!). I got a taste of that last weekend when Steve and I took a trip to Pine Mountain.
At the invitation of Reggie Van Stockum, we traveled to Pine Mountain State Park, enjoyed a delicious dinner with Hugh Archer and Laura Keller, and spent the night in a clean and cozy cabin at the park. The next morning, we travelled past Blanton Forest (providing an excuse to return soon to explore there) to Little Shepherd’s Pass. The road winds through the mixed mesophytic forest with amazing mountain top views (if you can divert your eyes from the brutal coal mining and logging practices, but that’s perhaps a topic for another day.)
The highlight of the day was our hike through Bad Branch. Just as we pulled into the parking area at the trail head, big, fat flakes of snow started to fall. The forest is so beautiful, it was as if we had been transported to Lothlorien. We hiked 1.2 miles to the Falls, and by the time we arrived the ground and the 20 foot tall rhododendrons and massive hemlocks were covered with a dusting of snow. The spray from the waterfall was icy cold and exceptionally beautiful. I could have stayed all day, but unfortunately our time was running short, so we hiked back to the car as it was getting dusky. But we will be back.
Kentucky Natural Lands Trust is working diligently to preserve this 125 mile piece of paradise for generations to come. Check out their work at KNLT.org.
And by all means, enjoy the beauty of Kentucky and plan a weekend get away to Pine Mountain soon. You won’t regret it.
And if you are an arm chair hiker, find yourself a copy of Kentucky’s Natural Heritage An Illustrated Guide To Biodiversity edited by Greg Abernathy, Deborah White, Ellis Laudermilk and Marc Evans. It a gorgeous book with a Forward by Wendell Berry.