Led by a child, three people hike up a leafy trail surrounded by forest.
Hikers at Pine Creek Barrens Hikers explore a trail at the Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve in Kentucky. © Mike Wilkinson

Places We Protect

Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve

Kentucky

Pine Creek Barrens contains critical habitat for several rare species.

Pine Creek Barrens is considered one of the finest examples of limestone/dolomite barrens complex in Kentucky. The nature preserve also serves as a tranquil respite from the fast-pace of nearby Louisville and Elizabethtown.

Location

Eight miles east of Shepherdsville near Cedar Grove.

Threats

Invasive species, cedar encroachment, hardwood tree and shrub encroachment into open areas.

What’s At Stake

This open woodland with a prairie-like ground cover hosts a diversity of native glade flora. Other natural communities at Pine Creek Barrens include the dry upland woods which surround the glade. On the southwest boundary, scenic Pine Creek flows through a beautiful mesic ravine forest lined with small limestone cliffs.

Specifically, at least eight rare and endangered plant species have been identified at the nature preserve, including the globally threatened glade cress (Leavenworthia exigua var. Laciniata), which has adapted to grow in small depressions on the exposed bedrock. This plant is found only in select areas in Bullitt and Jefferson counties.

Other plant species include indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), which wave majestically on windy days. Depending on the season, colorful wildflowers sprinkle the landscape, including pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida), obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana), and various species of blazing star (Liatrus).

Milestones

The Nature Conservancy’s began acquiring parcels in 1991 and opened the nature preserve for public hiking in 2017.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

At Pine Creek Barrens, TNC is working to maintain and restore the rare plants and natural communities by identifying and treating invasive species, cutting and removing cedar trees and hardwoods, and implementing controlled burning.

Visit Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve to enjoy passive recreation activities like hiking, bird watching and photography. There is also one table dedicated to picnicking.

Download a trail map of the nature preserve before you visit!