The Lexington Chapter of Wild Ones has partnered with the Kentucky Native Plant Society to develop the field trips listed below. These excursions focus on wildflowers in bloom, some not well known. All trips are led by expert guides and are open to the public. However, those marked with an (*) accommodate a limited number of participants and require preregistration through the Kentucky Native Plant Society. Click on the second link in the column on the right, go to the Field Trips page, then click on Registration.
Before setting out on a field trip, you may want to check the field trip page at knps.org for any updates and cancellations due to weather.
*Monday, March 12, 1:00 pm: Floracliff Nature Sanctuary, Fayette County
Join Beverly James, Floracliff Preserve Director, as she leads us through uplands and gorges in the palisades region of the Kentucky River on our first field trip of the year. We will search for brave, early bloomers such as the lovely snow trillium (Trillium nivale), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), cut-leaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), sharp-lobed hepatica (Anemone acutiloba) and others.
Wear sturdy shoes on this two mile walk which is rated moderate to difficult due to steep, uneven terrain. There is a suggested donation of $10 per person. Please arrive 10-15 minutes early so forms and donations can be collected.
Directions are to the West Gate meeting site outside the KY American Water Company (6300 Cedarcreek Lane). If you arrive before the group and the gate is open, please do not enter. The water company prefers that people follow us through and requests that we drive cautiously through this industrial area. Once the group reaches the Floracliff fence, please park in the grass along the fence rather than near the water company’s lagoons.
From downtown Lexington: Take Richmond Rd. (Main St.) south to Old Richmond Rd. (US 25 across from Jacobson Park). Drive 4.1 miles. Turn right on Evans Mill Rd. Drive 1.2 miles, then turn left on Cedarcreek Lane. Follow this road for about another mile until it ends at the Kentucky American Water Company treatment plant. We’ll be meeting there until everyone in the group arrives, then we’ll drive through to the preserve which is located on the other side of the water company.
From I-75: Take exit 99 (Clays Ferry). Turn left onto US 25 (Old Richmond Rd). Drive 4 miles, then turn left on Evans Mill Rd. Drive 1.2 miles, then turn left on Cedarcreek Lane. Follow this road for about another mile until it ends at the Kentucky American Water Company treatment plant. We’ll be meeting there until everyone in the group arrives, then we’ll drive through to the preserve which is located on the other side of the water company.
Saturday, March 31, 10:00 am: Highland Cemetery, Kenton County, Ft. Mitchell
Highland Cemetery is one of the best locations in Northern Kentucky for viewing a multitude of early spring wildflowers. Three lakes, hundreds of large trees, waterfalls, and streams make it both geologically and botanically interesting. Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society member Rob Repasky will direct this moderately easy walk.
Directions: From Interstate 75 going north, take Exit 188 (Ft. Mitchell, Dixie Highway South) and turn south off the exit onto Dixie Highway; go about 0.4 mile and turn left into the cemetery. Its white gates are directly across from Kroger and Expressway Plaza Shopping Center. Take all right turns after you enter the cemetery. You will pass a lake on the right and see a parking lot at the trailhead where we’ll meet. The cemetery address is 2167 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell.
*Saturday, April 7, 10:00 am: Thompson Creek Glades State Nature Preserve, Larue County
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission ecologist Brian Yahn will lead us through the high- quality, limestone hill glades above Thompson Creek. Although soil here is rocky and shallow, a number of showy prairie/glade plants thrive. We expect to find hairy puccoon (Lithospermum canescens), birdfoot violet (Viola pedata), and Indian paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) as well as other spring species. Driving directions and a meeting location will be provided upon registration.
Join us as we are guided through this special preserve by Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission ecologist Martina Hines. Protected here is the Beech Fork Ravine which flows into the Rockcastle River. Rich spring wildflowers and a mature hemlock mixed forest will be explored and unique species will be highlighted. Driving directions and meeting information will be provided upon registration.
Sunday, April 22, 10:00 am: Red River Gorge, Powell County
Several botanical hotspots for spring ephemerals will be explored as we are led by Dave Kuehner, a well-known regional naturalist. Short portions of Martin’s Fork, Rock Garden, and Pinch ‘Em Tight trails should provide many floral highlights, including showy orchis (Galearis spectabilis), large whorled pogonia (Isotria verticillata), spotted mandarin (Prosartes maculata), and pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule). Two of the trails are flat and the other has a couple of short uphill sections. Be sure to pack water and a lunch. Restrooms are at each trailhead.
Directions: Take Interstate 64 to Exit 98 for the Bert Combs Mountain Parkway. Drive 32 miles on the Mountain Parkway to Exit 33 (Slade.) Turn left onto State Route 11 North and go 0.1. Turn left onto Route 11/15 North (Campton Rd.) and drive 1.5 miles to State Route 77 (Nada Tunnel Road.) Turn right onto State Route 77 North and go 3.2 miles to the Martin’s Fork Trail parking lot on the left where we will meet. Martin’s Fork Trail parking lot is about ¾ mile after you go through Nada Tunnel.
*Saturday, May 5, 10:00 am: Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve, Clark County
Preserve manager Clare Sipple will lead us through this outstanding riparian site, situated along both sides of Lower Howard’s Creek where it flows into the Kentucky River. It is home to some unusual, protected plant populations and irreplaceable historical and archaeological features. Many species of wildflowers could be sighted on this field trip, but it is timed to catch the rare water stitchwort (Stellaria fontinalis) in bloom. Hopefully, Mother Nature will cooperate! The terrain is steep and rocky, requiring sturdy footwear. Bring water and snacks. Restrooms are at the trailhead.
Please note that Google directions may be erroneous.
Directions from Interstate 64: Take Exit 94, then KY 1958 to Boonesboro Road/KY 627; follow 627 south to Ford Road/KY 1924; turn left onto Ford Road, then the first right onto Athens-Boonesboro Road/KY 418. Follow 418 to Hall’s Restaurant. Continue 0.7 mile up the hill where you will see a stone wall between two metal gates with a sign that says Lower Howard’s Creek. Enter there and proceed up the driveway to a concrete building and a parking lot where we’ll meet.
Directions from Interstate 75: Take Exit 95, then east on KY 627 (Boonesborough Rd) to the Kentucky River and immediately turn right onto Ford Road/KY1924. Then take the first right onto Athens-Boonesboro Road/KY 418; follow 418 to Hall’s Restaurant. Continue 0.7 mile up the hill where you will see a stone wall between two metal gates with a sign that says Lower Howard’s Creek. Enter through the gates and proceed up the driveway to a concrete building and a parking lot where we’ll meet.
Directions from Lexington: Take Richmond Rd. to Jacobson Park and then after crossing over Interstate 75 continue straight on to the small community of Athens. There is a stop sign in Athens. There are no turns from Lexington until the second stop sign 7 miles past Athens. At the second stop sign, turn right then in exactly 0.2 mile you will see a stone wall on your left. The entrance to Lower Howard’s Creek is the gate between the two stone walls. Proceed up the driveway to a concrete building and a parking lot where we’ll meet. If you get to Hall’s Restaurant on the river, you have gone too far. Turn around and proceed 0.7 mile back up the hill and the entrance is then on the right.
Saturday, May 19, 10:00 am CDT: Mantle Rock Preserve, Livingston County
The namesake centerpiece of the preserve is a 30-foot high sandstone bridge, the longest east of the Mississippi River. The site also holds spectacular spring wildflowers in its upland forest and rare sandstone glades. Plenty of species bloom here at this time of the year, but we hope to see in particular the uncommon fairy wand (chamaelirium luteum) in flower and also the hairy lip fern (Cheilanthes lamosa.) We will follow Kentucky Native Plant Society board member Jeff Nelson on a 2.75 loop trail rated easy with some moderate up and down spots. After the walk, there is the option to see Joy Falls, a 200 yard jaunt down KY 133. On a historical note, Mantle Rock is a certified Trail of Tears location where, in the brutal winter of 1839, 1800 Cherokees spent two weeks waiting for the Ohio River to thaw. Bring a lunch and water as there are no places to eat nearby or facilities.
Take US-60 W / Versailles Rd to the Blue Grass Parkway/KY-9002 W. Take the Blue Grass Parkway approximately 70.5 miles, then take exit 1B to merge onto I-65 S toward Nashville / Paducah / Western Kentucky Parkway. Take exit 91 for US-31 W N/KY-61 N toward Paducah / Elizabethtown. Follow signs for Owensboro / Paducah / Western Kentucky Parkway and merge onto KY-9001 W/HWY 9001 W/Rt 9001 W/Wendell Ford Western Kentucky Parkway. Continue approximately 98.4 miles. Continue onto I-69 and travel approximately 26 miles. Take exit 12 for Kentucky 91 / Kentucky 139. Turn right onto KY-91 N / Marion Rd. Travel 14.3 miles. Take a slight left onto KY-70 W. Turn right onto Mexico Rd. Travel 4.4 miles. Turn left onto View Rd. Travel 2.7 miles. Turn left onto US-60 W. Travel 3.3 miles. Take a slight right onto KY-133 N / Lola Rd. Travel 12.8 miles. Turn left onto Mantle Rock Rd. Follow signs to the preserve parking where we will meet.
Take I-65 S. toward Nashville for approximately 44 miles. Take exit 91 for US-31 W N/KY-61 N. toward Paducah / Elizabethtown. Follow signs for Owensboro / Paducah / Western Kentucky Parkway and merge onto KY-9001 W / Hwy 9001 W / Rt 9001 W / State 9001 W / Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway. Continue approximately 98.4 miles. Continue onto I-69 and travel approximately 26 miles. Take exit 12 for Kentucky 91 / Kentucky 139. Turn right onto KY-91 N / Marion Rd. Travel 14.3 miles. Take a slight left onto KY-70 W. Turn right onto Mexico Rd. Travel 4.4 miles. Turn left onto View Rd. Travel 2.7 miles. Turn left onto US-60 W. Travel 3.3 miles. Take a slight right onto KY-133 N / Lola Rd. Travel 12.8 miles. Turn left onto Mantle Rock Rd. Follow signs to preserve parking where we will meet.
From South Central Kentucky:
Take KY 914 until you come to the ramp onto KY 9008 W. Travel 86.1 miles. Takes exit 1B on the left to merge onto I-65 S. toward Bowling Green. Travel 22.5 miles. Take exit 20 for William H. Natcher Green River Parkway / Kentucky 9007 N toward Bowling Green / Owensboro. Merge onto William H. Natcher Green River Parkway. Travel 41.1 miles. Take exit 43B for Western Kentucky Parkway W toward Paducah. Merge onto KY-9001 W / Hwy 9001 / Rte. 9001 / State 9001 W / Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway. Travel 38.7 miles. Continue onto I-69. Travel for 26 miles. Take exit 12 for Kentucky 91 / Kentucky 139. Turn right onto KY-91 N / Marion Rd. Travel 14.3 miles. Take a slight left onto KY-70 W. Turn right onto Mexico Rd. Travel 4.4 miles. Turn left onto View Rd. Travel 2.7 miles. Turn left onto US-60 W. Travel 3.3 miles. Take a slight right onto KY-133 N / Lola Rd. Travel 12.8 miles. Turn left onto Mantle Rock Rd. Follow signs to preserve parking where we will meet.
Saturday, June 9, 10:00 am: Cumberland Falls State Park Nature Preserve, Whitley and McCreary Counties
The major feature of this location is obviously the enormous “Niagra of the South” waterfall and its scenic views. Also to be found, however, is an abundance of native wildflowers, ferns, and the rare Southern Appalachian mountain camellia (Stewartia ovata). Kyle Napier, a Kentucky State Nature Preserves regional manager will take us on this moderately-rated hike (due to uneven terrain.) Wear sturdy footwear and bring a lunch. Restrooms are at the trailhead.
Directions: From the junction of Interstate 75 and US 25 W, which is Interstate 75 exit 25, SW of Corbin, follow 25W for 14.5 miles. Bear right onto KY 90 for approximately 8.8 miles, past the lodge entrance and down the hill to the falls/ visitor center parking lot where we will meet. The address for the lodge is 7351 Highway 90, Corbin for GPS purposes, but continue on down the hill on KY 90 to visitor center parking lot.
*Saturday, June 23, 10:00 am: E. Lucy Braun State Nature Preserve, Harlan County
Named for the famous early 1900’s pioneer ecologist, this newly dedicated preserve is situated on the south slope of Pine Mountain and contains rare plants and plant communities like pine woodlands and an intriguing Appalachian bog. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission botanist Tara Littlefield will lead us on this field trip. Driving directions and a meeting location will be provided upon registration.
Saturday, July 7, 10:00 am CDT: Land between the Lakes-Hematite Trail, Livingston County
This trail is located on the peninsula between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake near the Woodlands Nature Station. It follows a flat 2.2 mile path around Hematite Lake. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission botanist Devin Rogers will lead our search for various wildflowers including the colorful purple fringeless orchid (Platanthera peramoena) and rare Price’s potato bean (Apios priceana.) A side trip in the area is the Elk and Bison Prairie Preserve where, for a small fee, visitors may drive a 3.5 loop through native grasslands to observe the large mammals, once so prevalent in Kentucky, that had a great impact on our natural landscape. Bring water, lunch, insect repellent, and shoes you don’t mind getting wet. Restrooms are at the trailhead.
Directions: From Interstate 24 W, take Exit 31/ KY 453; turn left onto Dover Road/453 towards Grand Rivers and drive 15 miles. Turn left onto Silver Trail Road/ 133, go 2.9 miles, then continue to the Woodlands Nature Station parking lot where we’ll meet.
Saturday, July 14, 10:00 am: Yahoo Falls-Big South Fork, McCreary County
Dan Boone, a knowledgeable native plant specialist, will guide this moderate, one mile loop hike through the lush Big South Fork forest. We will view, at 113 feet, the highest waterfall in Kentucky, passing behind it and under a huge rock shelter where the rare Appalachian bristle fern or filmy fern (Trichomanes boschianum) is found. We will also look for the lesser rattlesnake plantain orchid (Goodyera repens) and other species. Bring water and pack a lunch. Restrooms are at the trailhead parking lot.
Directions: From Interstate 75 take Exit 11; turn right onto SR 92 and continue until it intersects with US 27. Turn right onto US 27 and go north on through Whitley City; turn left at a closed gas station on the north west corner onto Route 700/Alum Road, which is a small narrow road. (Alum is called Sandhill Road on the opposite, right side of US 27.) Go approximately 4 miles on Alum Road/Route 700. This road will fork and intersect numerous times, but hang in there and stick to Alum/700 until you come to Yahoo Falls Road. Turn right and follow the signs to the Yahoo Falls Loop trailhead parking lot where we’ll meet.
Saturday, July 28, 10:00 am: E. Lucy Braun Lynx Prairie Preserve, Adams County, Ohio
During our visit to this famous preserve, the prairie will be putting on a show with these rare beauties and many more: bluehearts (Buchnera America), crested coralroot (Hexalectris spicata), and little green milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora). Dave Kuehner will take the lead as we wind our way through one of the most important ecological and botanical treasures of the Eastern U.S. Bring water and pack a lunch. The trail is rated moderate and relatively flat with a few hills.
Directions : Take US 68 toward Maysville; just before Maysville, US 68 takes a left turn and goes to the Ohio River Bridge. After crossing the bridge, turn left onto Rt. 52 towards Aberdeen (the ramp curls around.) Follow Rt. 52 through Aberdeen and Manchester and continue on Rt. 52 until reaching Rt. 247 toward West Union. Turn left onto Rt. 247 and go 7 miles to West Union, then turn right onto Rt. 125. Follow Rt. 125 to tiny Lynx where there is one gas station on the left. We will meet in the parking lot of the gas station. You can enter “Lynx, Ohio” into Google Maps and it may come up with various routes, but the directions here are ones that will take you on the easiest, less curvy, less complicated route from Maysville.
*Saturday, August 4, 10:00 am: Hazeldell Meadow Nature Preserve, Pulaski County
Join a Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission botanist as he leads us through the only Highland Rim Wet Barrens or “wet prairie” in Kentucky. At this time of year, the preserve should be a sea of orange as hundreds of yellow-fringed orchids (Plantanthera ciliaris) bloom. Two unusual species, dwarf sundew (Drosera brevifolia) and shortleaf skeleton grass (Gymnopogan brevifolius) occur here. Other species likely to be blooming are Canadian St. Johnswort (Hypericum canadense) and spindleroot (Ludwiga hirtella.) If it has rained recently, expect wet shoes. The walk will be less than a mile long. Pack a lunch and bring water. There are no facilities. Driving directions and a meeting location will be provided upon registration.
*Saturday, August 25, 10:00 am: Crooked Creek Barrens State Nature Preserve, Lewis County
A unique oak barrens community and oak hickory forest are protected at this preserve. Deb White, of Woods and Waters Land Trust, will take us along the 1 ½ mile Joyce Bender Trail which newly opened in 2017. We’ll look for various prairie species, including earleaf false foxglove (Agalinis auriculata) and slender blazing star (Liatris cylindracea) and prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum). Bring water and pack a lunch.
Directions: Take US 68 E towards Maysville. South of Maysville, turn right onto 1448/E Maple Hill Rd. Turn left on Rt. 11 then right onto Rt. 9/AA Hwy. Turn left onto Rt. 449 then right onto Day Pike. Turn right onto Rt. 10/Mason Lewis Rd. then left onto Rt. 984. Turn left onto 1443/Garrett Run. Rt. 1443 become Rt. 3309/Chalk Ridge Rd. Preserve is on the right.
Address: 1797 Chalk Ridge Rd., Vanceburg
*Saturday, September 8, 1:00 pm: Jean’s Glade, Estill Madison County
Jean’s Glade is a private location where dozens of the endangered pale gentian (Gentiana favida) bloom each year. Ann Longsworth will host our visit to her gentian patch which is the largest in Kentucky. Her plot, containing over 189 species of other native plants as well, was the subject of a recently published scientific study of the imperiled flower. She has maintained the appropriate environment for these wildflowers to flourish for 16 years. This is an extraordinary opportunity to see a special plant and an especially beautiful site. Driving directions will be provided upon registration.
Note the later starting time due to the flowers typically opening midday.
Saturday, September 22, 10:00 am: Blue Licks State Park Nature Preserve, Robertson County
This preserve protects the endangered species, Short’s goldenrod (Solidago shortii), which should be in bloom. It grows wild in just one other place in the world. Joyce Bender, formerly with the Kentucky State Nature Preserves, will lead us along an easily traversed buffalo trace to find it and other late summer wildflowers, such as the also rare Great Plains Ladies’ Tresses (Spiranthes magnicamporum). Pack a lunch, bring water, and wear sturdy shoes. Restrooms are at the trailhead.
Directions: Blue Licks Nature Preserve is within Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort. It is located between Paris and Maysville on US 68. After you enter the park, follow signs to the Visitor Center parking lot where we’ll meet.
*Saturday, September 29, 10:00 am Eastview Barrens State Nature Preserve, Hardin County
The high-quality grasslands and open woodlands on this location are maintained by controlled burns to preserve a notable example of extensive prairie-like areas called barrens, that used to cover much of Kentucky. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission manager Shaun Ziegler will lead us through the site on a two mile path as we look for rare plants that bloom at this time, including prairie gentian (Gentiana puberulenta), silky aster (Symphyotrichum pratense), and long-haired hawkweed (Hieracium longipilum.) Driving directions and meeting location information will be provided upon registration.
*Saturday, October 13, 10:00 am: Little South Fork Conservation Area, Wayne County
Little South Fork is a protected designated Kentucky Wild River and the area harbors several unique species of bats, mussels, and fish. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission biologist Josh Lillpop will lead an exclusive hike to the Pilot, a rock outcrop hundreds of feet above the river, to view fall colors of the river valley. Driving directions and meeting location will be provided upon registration.
Field trips with asterisks are those requiring registration.
It is recommended that each participant bring plenty of water, snacks, lunch, insect repellent, a hat and wear sturdy shoes.