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Boone Cliffs Kentucky Entire Loop Trail | 500,000 Year Old Glacial Formations in Northern KY


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Located at: 4990 Middle Creek Rd. Burlington, KY 41005

The Boone County Cliffs State Nature Preserve is a 75 acre old growth forest that provides habitat for species and plants that are uncommon in Kentucky. The cliffs were formed by a glacier 250-500,000 years ago. Boone Cliffs is 74 acres of old growth forest and unique 20 to 40 foot cliff formations. There are unpaved trails rated moderate to difficult available for hiking. Limited Parking available only 6 spots. During hunting season please use caution as private land surrounds parks. There is limited to no cell phone coverage in some areas of the hiking path. Please pack water and snacks and plan for 1-2 hours of hiking.

From (Click link for a Trail Map): http://naturepreserves.ky.gov/naturepreserves/Documents/brochures/BooneCountyCliffsBrochure_bw.pdf
Purchased in 1974, the original 46-acre tract was the first preserve of the Kentucky chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The preserve was dedicated by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves
Commission (KSNPC) in 1988, protecting it forever from development. In 2010, ownership of the preserve was transferred from TNC to the Boone County Fiscal Court. Boone County Cliffs derives its name from the 20 to 50-foot cliffs of conglomerate rock that rise above the valley slopes of a small tributary to Middle Creek. The cliffs are considered to be among the finest examples of glacial deposits in Kentucky. Originating from outwash materials from Kansan-age glaciers, the conglomerate consists of
well-cemented coarse gravels that were deposited 700,000 years ago. The glacial debris includes fine-grained igneous and metamorphic rock that originated in northern Canada. Meltwater from the glacier carried sandand gravel that had been locked in the ice into this upland valley in Boone County. The course of what
would become the Ohio River was just beginning to form at this time. As the Ohio River cut its channel, the Middle Creek tributary at Boone Cliffs began eroding and carving through the solidified glacial deposits as it flowed towards the Ohio River. The
sculpted shapes of the cliffs we see today are the result of the erosive power of flowing water. The preserve lies within the Eden Shale Belt of theOuter Bluegrass Region. Soils are generally fertile
and basic, ranging from mostly moist to moderately dry. The forest is characterized as calcareous mesophytic and consists of many species including sugar maple, basswood, beech, white oak, white ash, and slipperyelm. Hikers may see wildflowers such as trout lily, spring beauty, dutchman’s breeches, squirrel corn and bloodroot
along the trails in the springtime. The moist, spring-fed stream valley is home to the redback salamander, an uncommon species in Kentucky. Two-lined and dusky salamanders are found in association with springs on the property. In addition, the preserve supports an unusually high diversity of bird life, with warblers being especially abundant during the spring migration. Resident species include great horned owl, turkey, wood thrush, white-breasted nuthatch, scarlet and summer tanagers.
Visitors are welcome to enjoy hiking, birding, photography
and nature study from sunrise to sunset, every day of the year. The loop trail is a little over a mile and a half in length. It is moderately strenuous as it ascends to the ridgetop. Once on top of the ridge, the trail is an easy walk. It passes through a grove of mature beech on the east side and provides wonderful views of the cliffs
and the stream valley below. Note the changes in tree composition from the north-facing slopes to the southfacing side. Sugar maple, beech and basswood dominate the canopy on the moister, shadier north side and maple, chinquapin and red oaks occupy the drier south side. Other vegetation changes are becoming more apparent.
Garlic mustard, chickweed and bush honeysuckle have been steadily invading the preserve for several decades. These invasive non-native plants are taking over the habitat of native species that do not compete as well for space, nutrients and light. Efforts have been made to slow their spread, but more help is needed to stop
invasive plants from overrunning the preserve. Please contact KSNPC if you would like to volunteer.

More Resources:

Mary Jane's Garden - Get Ready For Spring 250x250

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So popular it had to be shut down: https://www.wcpo.com/news/insider/boone-cliffs-nature-preserve-a-popular-visitor-and-hiker-spot-will-reopen-soon-after-closing-due-largely-to-its-popularity

Improved Boone Cliff Nature preserve reopens after 18 months: https://www.nkytribune.com/2018/05/improved-boone-cliff-nature-preserve-reopens-after-18-months-more-areas-accessible-to-the-public/

AllTrails Boone Cliffs Loop Trail Site: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/kentucky/boone-cliffs-loop-trail

Support me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/nkydiy


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