My all time favorite getaway and a companion hike to the very close by Dinsmore Woods SNP, Boone County Cliffs SNP is truly a lost treasure in the middle of a fast growing urban area.
Just one mile down the road from the previously mentioned Dinsmore Woods on Middle Creek Road there is a beautiful 74 acre wilderness that almost astonishes you. Going from Florence and Burlington you climb down a steep hill that takes you back in time. With no facilities besides a 5 car gravel parking area you may want to make sure everything is taken care of before you head out to this remote hiking and bird watching spot, and you may also want to pack a few things from the camping first aid kit in case you may need something.
The Hike takes you in a loop around the entire reserve which lie around a small tributary to Middle Creek, rounding down around a ridge and by the stream the start of the hike immerses you in a peaceful and serene habitat that you did not think could exist this close to the city. Once you round this ridge and take a look at the babbling brook you will find out why its called Boone County “Cliffs”. With magnificent cliff peaks from 20 – 40 feet in height you can get a real feel for this rare geologic formation that was carved out by ice age glaciers and is the only such area in the entire state of Kentucky.
A brisk climb to the top of the cliff is an intermediate to strenuous trail but don’t fret there are several benches scattered throughout the reserve including one halfway up the main climb. The Cliff Overlook just at the top will have you looking at the entire stream and the rest of your hike. Winding through deep mixed forests and thick hillsides of forest ferns on a very well marked and nicely carved path. Notice that many of the plants and tree throughout have been marked with they’re scientific names as well as common names which also makes this a learning experience.
There are many cliffs throughout your hike that you will notice but be careful not to stray from the path many of the cliffs are dangerous and not meant to be hiked to. Many birds also make Boone County Cliffs SNP an excellent bird watching area, you will see Nuthatches, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Finches and Canary’s here and there.
As you finish up the trail you will notice that you are coming down a slope on the other side of the stream that you seen at the beginning as you once again hear the sounds of the running stream. The trail in the end is just under 2.5 miles and a little longer hike than Dinsmore Woods putting you between 2 and 2 1/2 hours. Again another great weekend getaway that wont cost you anything besides a few hours, and the great feeling you will get from the fresh air a peaceful atmosphere.
By Jesse G. Roland