By Carrie Searcy
Office of the Secretary
Hikers will strap on boots and backpacks and step foot for the first time onto the new Crooked Creek Nature Preserve hiking trail in Lewis Co., Kentucky July 15.
Officials have scheduled a dedication of the new 1.35 hiking trail with a free guided hike at 9:30 a.m.
Thanks to grants from to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund (KHLCF) and American Electric Power, Kentucky State Nature Preserves (KSNP) has gathered enough property for an ecologically responsible hiking trail with good public access, located just less than 30 minutes from Vanceburg and Maysville, making it an ideal location.
“We’ve been conserving rare species habitat at Crooked Creek for almost 20 years, with a focus on managing grasslands, glades and barrens using prescribed fire, but did not have the capacity to both manage habitat and recreation until now,” said Zeb Weese, KSNP Director. “We hope that the citizens of Lewis County are as proud of Crooked Creek Nature Preserve as we are, and hikers from all over come to enjoy it as well.”
Crooked Creek will also be the perfect spot for bird watchers with native birds like warblers, wood thrush and ovenbirds.
“All our Nature Preserve trails are perfect for a quiet hike it the woods to enjoy wildflowers and birds,” said Weese. “There are quite a few interesting native grassland plant species specific to Crooked Creek, including Indian paintbrush, blazing star and six-foot tall prairie dock that hikers will be able to enjoy.”
Getting to the grand opening of this project has taken an immense amount of effort and cooperation by all parties involved in the project.
Weese said this project wouldn’t have been possible without every single person striving to improve tourism while improving the health of their community, and hiking trails are a perfect fit. From Lewis County Judge Executive Todd Ruckel, who offered to help with basic maintenance of the hiking trail and parking lot, to local citizen involvement, the project has been a community effort.
“Any time we can share Kentucky’s natural areas we are excited. We live in a beautiful state, and we want to make it possible for citizens and tourists alike to experience our out-of-the way places,” said Weese.
Following the dedication, the trail will be open from sunrise to sunset. In spring and fall, the preserve will be managed with prescribed fire to maintain these open areas. The trails will be briefly closed when burning occurs, but the area will not take long to recover.
KSNP’s has more than 150 sites in its natural areas system statewide, most funded by the KHLCF and Kentuckians who purchase “Nature’s Finest” license plates each year. The sites range from nature preserves with endangered species habitat, to county parks with creeks for kids to play in, to Wild Rivers that provide outstanding canoeing. KSNP hopes to open more of these hiking sites in the future.
“This is just the beginning here at Crooked Creek,” said Weese. “We want everyone to get out at all our hiking trails and enjoy what we have to offer. There really is something for everyone.”
For more information on KSNPs, please go to http://naturepreserves.ky.gov/naturepreserves/Pages/preserves.aspx and http://naturepreserves.ky.gov/naturalheritage/Pages/default.aspx for more information.