Shooting Star Cliffs Special Areas
These specific sites are regarded as special areas by the U.S. Forest Service due to their important and special attributes.
A breathtaking area that is completely accessible due to the U.S. Forest Service-made parking area and established trails. The rugged and diverse topography bares overhangs, rock shelters, a natural arch and spring alcoves covered with an assortment of plant species. Hemlock Cliffs also features the largest vertical drop in the state at 150 feet. Although tempting, please refrain from rappelling or doing any other recreational activities that may disturb the landscape. Overuse of the site has already created detrimental impacts.
The only population of umbrella magnolias in the state is located in this Special Area. Several stands are found sheltered in the sandstone hollows on either side of I-64. Several sites remain unprotected so access is very limited.
A complex of several hollows and cliff sites—Abbott's Hollow, Bear Hollow, Dauby Hollow, Peter Cave Hollow, Jubin Creek Cliffs, and Oil Creek Cliffs—exhibit spectacular features and scenery. Be wary of the private lands around these areas; please do not trespass.
Rich Cave Hollow, now known as Saalman Hollow Nature Preserve, is named after the former owner and steward, Major Otis E. Saalman. As a prisoner of war, Major Saalman dreamed of returning to his native Perry County hills and settling down. This he did, and it could be well argued that after experiencing a living hell, Otis Saalman had found his Heaven on Earth.
Saalman Hollow is surely one of Indiana’s most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing nature preserves. As one follows the small intermittent creek further into the hollow, the sandstone walls on either side pinch together, forming a deeply cleft narrow canyon, in which one can reach out and touch at arm’s length both canyon walls.
Most of the land remains privately owned and permission must be granted before entering the property. Please do not trespass.
What to See: Plants and Animals
Eastern hemlock trees, mountain laurel, deerberry, farkleberry, dryland blueberry, and blackberry plants can be found throughout the preserve. Distinctive flora on the sandstone includes lobed and maiden spleenwort, rock clubmoss and various ferns—like walking fern and the exceptionally rare filmy fern. The preserve's namesake and globally rare plant is the French's shooting star which is usually found beneath larger rock shelters. The variety of flora is long and diverse at the preserve, far too many to state here.
Animal life is just as rich and varied as the plants found at the Shooting Star Cliffs. Numerous critters make their homes in the overhangs and cliffs like Eastern phoebes and antlions (doodlebugs). Vultures nest and bobcats make their dens at the site as well. Bug enthusiasts should know that some of the rarest cave-adapted invertebrates make up the most significant creatures in the areas. Troglobitic millipedes, pseudoscorpions, aquatic isopods, and amphipods lead an unseen subterranean existence in the handful of cave passages in the lower layers of Hemlock Cliffs.
The moderate to rugged terrain and developed trails will make the hike an adventure without the worries of losing the way on this vast property.