Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve

A local hiker and explorer shares his excitement about a new place to get outside in the Louisville area.

By Mike Bucayu on January 02, 2018

I spend most of my free time outdoors, always seeking another adventure, whether it be a once-in-a-lifetime, magical adventure or a simple and short escape from working. I have hiked in many state and national parks across the country. I also frequently trek the parks and natural areas located around Louisville—from our Olmstead Parks such as Iroquois and Cherokee, to the Parklands of Floyds Fork, as well as Jefferson Memorial Forest, Otter Creek and others. These places offer various experiences in differing landscapes.

Recently, I heard about a cool nature area called the Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve from a fellow hiker. Her strong recommendation signaled an alarm in my head, “New Park, New Adventure! Go Go Go! Time to explore!”

Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve

Since then, I have visited Pine Creek Barrens twice. While I did the main trail both times, there was always something new to see—a rock formation, a water feature, or various flora and fauna.

I was especially excited to learn that this nature preserve harbors some special wildflowers called the Kentucky Glade Cress, which can only be found in certain parts of southern Jefferson County and Bullitt County. I have found patches of these plants before and I am pleased to know that Pine Creek Barrens offers a protected area where they can grow and thrive as well.

Kentucky Glade Cress

Pine Creek Barrens might seem small compared to other Louisville area parks. However, this almost 160 acres has a lot to offer on its three-mile loop. Heading south from the trailhead, you are led through a maze of cedars to an area dominated by large scattered rocks and sinkholes before reaching a clearing where the birds seem to criss-cross overhead from tree to tree.

Eventually, the trail exits this meadow and leads you back into a canopy of trees. On the right, terrain slowly begins to slope towards Cedar Creek. Before the trail heads in that direction, there is bench where you can sit and take in the serenity of your surroundings and the hustle and bustle of the Preserve’s inhabitants.

Farther along, the trail is marked by a dramatic wall of huge rocks. Eventually you reach the spot where Cedar Creek is joined by Pine Creek. The sound of water dropping down from the rocks makes this a nice place to pause to take in the scenery and a few pictures!

Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve

From here, the trail moves through a break in the rocks to meander along Pine Creek and away from Cedar Creek. Before heading in that direction, I spent some time exploring around the rocks. I wondered how the formations came to be. I hope to learn more about the history of this landscape and its inhabitants.

Leaving the creekbed area, the trail ascends to the northern part of the loop that leads back to the trailhead. Along the way, it crosses flat open barren areas that might seem uninteresting to some, but for me, looked like a prime spot for finding Kentucky Glade Cress based on the other places I have seen them growing. Unfortunately the time, temperature and season weren’t the right conditions to find any. I’ll plan on looking for them each time I visit.

Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve

Eventually I returned to the trailhead after traveling the entire three-mile loop. Deer prints are known to dot the soil all around Pine Creek Barrens, but I never saw any during my visits. I am sure at dusk or dawn, this place is teeming with deer.

Mike Bucayu at Pine Creek Barrens

I encourage everyone to go to the Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve. Do a little exploring! Kudos to The Nature Conservancy for creating opportunities and places, like this, where people can spend time outdoors to appreciate nature all around us!

Categories: Pine Creek Barrens Nature Preserve, Hiking, Louisville

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