You must be signed in to save park lists.
Your Park Lists
add New List
Add Photo
You must be signed in to add photos.
state route ranger badge

Kentucky State Parks

responsive menu icon
USA Parks
Highlands Region
Kentucky Ridge State Forest
Cardinal ©
Oh Yell ©
Availability Search
Kentucky Ridge State Forest consists of 15,251 acres and was acquired by lease in 1930, as part of the Land Use and Resettlement Program. The lease was sustained until 1954 when the property was deeded by the U.S. government to the Commonwealth.

Kentucky Ridge State Forest contains Pine Mountain State Resort Park on Pine Mountain and is located on the south side of Pine Mountain and the north side of Log Mountain, encompassing Little Clear Creek Valley. The forest also contains Chenoa Lake, the Division of Forestry's Chenoa Service Center and Bell County Forestry Camp.

Kentucky Ridge State Forest is managed for sustainable timber production. The forest is open to public hunting and fishing, subject to state fish and game regulations, and is available for primitive camping, hiking and picnicking.
History of the Area
Kentucky Ridge State Forest, also known as Kentucky Ridge State Forest State Nature Preserve, is located in Rowan County, Kentucky, United States. Here is a brief history of the forest:

1. Acquisition: The land for Kentucky Ridge State Forest was acquired by the Kentucky Division of Forestry in the early 1970s. The state forest was initially established to protect and manage the natural resources found within its boundaries.

2. Ecological Significance: The forest is recognized for its ecological significance and unique natural features. It is situated on the northeastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau region, where the Appalachian Mountains meet the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. This results in a diverse landscape with a variety of plant and animal species.

3. State Nature Preserve Designation: In 1992, a portion of Kentucky Ridge State Forest was designated as a State Nature Preserve. This designation provides higher protection and stricter regulations to safeguard the sensitive ecological systems found within the preserve.

4. Forest Management: Kentucky Ridge State Forest is managed by the Kentucky Division of Forestry. The primary focus of management activities includes promoting sustainable forestry practices, maintaining forest health, and protecting the ecological integrity of the area.

5. Recreation Opportunities: The forest offers various recreational opportunities for visitors. These include hiking, bird-watching, wildlife viewing, and nature photography. Managed deer hunts are also organized in the forest as part of the state's wildlife management efforts.

6. Conservation Efforts: The forest serves as a habitat for numerous plant and animal species, including some that are rare or threatened. Efforts are made to conserve and protect these species through responsible management practices and collaboration with conservation organizations.

Kentucky Ridge State Forest continues to be a valuable natural resource in Kentucky, providing recreational opportunities for visitors while preserving and protecting its unique ecological features.
Nearby Vacation Rentals
Search for a vacation rental

1. Pine Mountain Trail: This 42-mile trail stretches across the entire length of Kentucky Ridge State Forest, offering hikers a challenging and rewarding experience with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

2. Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Trails: These trails offer various difficulty levels ranging from easy to strenuous hikes through dense forests, past historical landmarks and up steep inclines for breathtaking vistas.

3. Kingdom Come Scenic Parkway Trail: A moderate hike that winds along ridges overlooking Harlan County Lake; it's an excellent choice for birdwatchers or those seeking solitude in nature.

4. Little Shepherd Trail Hike: An easier route suitable for families or novice hikers featuring gentle slopes, abundant wildlife sightings such as deer and wild turkey, plus scenic overlooks onto valleys below.

5. High Rock Loop Trial: This is one of the most difficult but also most rewarding hiking paths within this forest area due to its high elevation changes leading towards stunning rock formations at its peak point.

6. Laurel Cove Nature Preserve Trails: The preserve offers several miles worth of interconnected loops which pass by unique geological features like limestone cliffs & caves while providing opportunities to spot rare plant species native only here.

7. Bad Branch Falls Hiking Pathway: It's a moderately tough trek taking you alongside beautiful creek beds until reaching impressive waterfall cascading down amidst lush greenery making all efforts worthwhile!

8. Black Bear Wilderness Loop: As name suggests, there are chances spotting black bears during your journey on this rugged terrain filled path where old growth trees tower above creating canopy effect.

9. Blanton Forest Old Growth Area Walkways: Here visitors can explore largest known remnant virgin hardwood forest left in state via series well-marked pathways each varying lengths/difficulty level.

10. Pinnacle Knob Fire Tower Route: Climbing atop fire lookout tower rewards adventurers spectacular 360:degree view over vast expanses untouched wilderness stretching out far beyond eye can see.

11. Sand Cave and White Rocks Trail: This trail offers a unique experience of exploring the large sand cave, followed by an ascent to white rocks for panoramic views over Cumberland Gap.

12. Eagle Falls Loop: A moderately challenging hike that leads you past natural arches, along cliff lines and finally culminates at one of Kentucky's most scenic waterfalls: The Eagle Falls..

13. Yahoo Arch Hike: An easy-to-moderate trek leading towards magnificent rock formation resembling shape like 'Yahoo' making it popular among kids & adults alike.

14. Honeymoon falls pathway: It's relatively short but steep climb ending with beautiful waterfall view which is particularly stunning during spring season when surrounded by blooming wildflowers.

15. Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail: Ideal choice those looking leisurely walk alongside river while enjoying peaceful ambiance away from city hustle bustle.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
write a review
Share On

Area Fishing Related Businesses
Deer Ridge Bait
2427 Us Highway 25 E
Middlesboro, KY
(606) 242-2248
Imperial Bait & Tackle
Colmar Rd
Middlesboro, KY
(606) 248-8213

From Interstate 75 take Exit 29 (Corbin - Barbourville) off of Interstate 75, travel south on U.S. 25 E to Pineville. Follow signs to Pine Mountain State Resort Park. The park adjoins Kentucky Ridge Forest on the northeastern portions. The forest is bisected by Highway 190 when traveling west of Pineville to Chenoa.

state route ranger badge

Kentucky State Parks