Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The Raven Run nature preserve is way off the beaten path, and not well known. For this reason, it's one of my favorite places to visit in Kentucky for a nature hike. It's over 10 miles of wooded hiking trails containing over 600 species of plants and 200 species of birds. Among the preserve's ultra-rare endangered species are Soft-hair Marbleseed (Onosmodium molle), Downy Arrowwood (Viburnum rafinesquianum), Hispid Falsemallow (Malvastrum hispidum) and Nodding Rattlesnake-root (Prenanthes crepidinea).
Since Raven Run is a serious nature sanctuary and not merely a park, you have to sign in at the front desk and strictly observe their rules, such as no bikes, no pets, no alcohol, no weapons, no fires, no camping, no picnicking, and for that matter, no touching anything if you can possibly help it.
Because of its remote location, the sanctuary is popular with local astronomers, and stargazing events are often held there with the Bluegrass Amateur Astronomy Club. I've heard claims that the land upon which Raven Run rests has had more than a few ghostly and paranormal happenings, but my attempts to pin anybody down on useful details has so far turned up zippo. Every Halloween, they host a "mysteries of the night" hayride, but I have yet to check that out.
To visit Raven Run, get on U.S. 25 between Richmond and Lexington, and turn at Jacks Creek Pike by Judy Ray's Food Mart. Follow it about 6 miles and watch for signs on your left.