Visit this sanctuary near the majestic limestone cliffs that run along the Kentucky River.
Open to the Public
How to Prepare for Your Visit View All
As it celebrated 200 years in business in 1995, the internationally renowned Jim Beam Company joined forces with The Nature Conservancy to create the Jim Beam Nature Preserve in Kentucky’s Palisades region just 20 miles outside of Lexington. For the company, with several brands and operations all over the world, establishing a nature preserve in the Bluegrass State represented a way of giving back to the land that provided so much over two centuries and a promise to never lose touch with the company’s Kentucky roots.
Size: 115 acres
Location: Located in the Palisades region, in Jessamine and Garrard counties, near where the Kentucky River cuts down into the oldest rocks exposed in the state.
What’s At Stake: Beech, tulip poplar and oak/hickory forest. Plant species concentrated at the rocky riverbanks and the cliff top sites, including water stichwort, Svenson's wild-rye, mountain lover and starry cleft phlox. Rare salamander and snail species, and two federally-endangered bats: the Gray bat and Indiana bat.
Threats: Urban sprawl, vandalism and invasive species – especially bush honeysuckle.
Milestones: Established the nature preserve, together with the Jim Beam Company, in 1995. The company planted 2,000 trees in the year 2000 and donated funds for maintenance and general care in honor of top retailers, distributors and broker partners throughout the United States.
Action: Provide public access without compromising the delicate nature of the preserve. Prevent damage to native species by invasive weeds. Gather additional information on the species present at the site.
Partners: Volunteers, including Boy Scout troops and civic groups.
In addition to natural history, the Jim Beam Nature Preserve boasts a one mile loop trail that showcases cultural treasures such as significant stretches of dry laid stone fences providing a glimpse into the past of the local bluegrass area. The trail also includes an overlook that provides a view of the Kentucky River when the leaves are off the trees. The nature preserve is conveniently located near the Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park.
Plants to See
The steep cliff tops surrounding the Kentucky River also harbor the largest concentration of forest within the Inner Bluegrass, which is otherwise largely agricultural or suburban. Blue ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), chinquapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), and sugar maple (Acer sacharum) are abundant on the steep limestone slopes, along with less common trees like rock elm (Ulmus thomasi), yellow wood (Cladrastis lutea) and yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra).
Also of interest are sites on old sandy river terraces and bluff-top ridges which have more acid or infertile soils than are typical for the Inner Bluegrass Region. Here exist beech (Fagus), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and oak/hickory (Quercus/Carya) forest types similar to those in Appalachian Kentucky.
The Palisades region harbors the largest concentration of rare plant species with the Bluegrass Region, which are concentrated in some of the more unusual habitats of the Palisades - the rocky riverbanks and the clifftop sites. These include:
- water stichwort (Arenaria fontinalis)
- Svenson's wild-rye (Elymus svensonii)
- mountain lover (Pachistima canbyi)
- starry cleft phlox (Phlox bifida ssp. stellaria)
Animals to see
The Palisades is home to at least 25 mammal species and 35 reptile species. Two endangered bats -- the Gray bat (Myotis grisescens) and Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) -- utilize this habitat. Bats require forested corridors that serve as a source of insects. The bats feed on these insects over streams and along forest edges.
Open all year from sunrise to sunset for low-impact activities such as hiking, photography and bird watching. Camping, biking, horses and off-road vehicles are prohibited. Please stay on trails at all times.
From I-75, take exit 115 to the New Circle Road exit. Exit right onto New Circle and proceed to the Nicholasville Rd. exit (U.S. 27 South). Take a right at the end of the exit ramp onto Nicholasville Road. Follow this road for approximately 16.6 miles to Hall's Road. Turn right onto Hall's Road (You will see large distillery buildings up on the hill to the right.) Proceed on Hall's Road about 0.7 miles to the blacktop lane on the right marked Payne Lane. Turn right onto Payne Lane. Proceed 200-300 yards, and when the road curves, continue straight onto a gravel drive to a fenced area. This gravel drive leads to the preserve parking area. The trail is located beyond the parking area on the left. There is a kiosk with a map of the preserve adjacent to the parking lot. There are trail markers throughout the one mile loop.
Take I-64 E. toward Lexington. Travel for 51.9 miles. Take exit 58 toward Versailles. Merge onto US-60 E / Versailles Rd. Continue to follow US-60 E. Travel 8.4 miles. Take a slight right onto US 62 Business E. Travel 1 mile. Continue onto S. Main St. Continue onto Harrodsburg Rd / Kentucky 33 S / Troy Pike. Travel 2.1 miles. Turn left onto KY-169 S / Pinckard Pike. Continue to follow KY 169 S. Travel 7.0 miles. Turn right onto Kentucky 1267/KY-169 S/ S. Elkhorn Rd. / Keene-Troy Rd. Take the 1st left onto KY-169S / Keene Rd. Travel 4.6 miles. Turn right onto US-27 S. Travel 8.6 miles. Turn right onto Hall Rd. (You will see large distillery buildings up on the hill to the right. Proceed on Hall's road about 0.7 miles to the blacktop lane on the right marked Payne Lane. Turn right onto Payne Lane. Proceed 200-300 yards, and when the road curves, continue straight onto a gravel drive to a fenced area. This gravel drive leads to the preserve parking area.
From South Central Kentucky:
Take US-27 N., approximately 53.7 miles from Somerset. Turn left onto Hall Rd. Proceed on Hall's road about 0.7 miles to the blacktop lane on the right marked Payne Lane. Turn right onto Payne Lane. Proceed 200-300 yards, and when the road curves, continue straight onto a gravel drive to a fenced area. This gravel drive leads to the preserve parking area.
From Paducah, KY
Take I-24 E. to exit 42, toward Princeton / Elizabethtown. Merge onto I-69. Travel 38.2 miles. Continue onto KY-9001E / Hwy 9001 E / Rte 9001 E / State 9001 E/ Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway. Travel 98.4 miles. Take exit 137B to merge onto I-65 N toward Lexington / Louisville. Travel 2.3 miles. Take exit 93 for Bluegrass Parkway toward Bardstown / Lexington. Merge onto KY-9002 E. Travel 67.5 miles. Take exit 68 for KY-33 toward Versailles. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for US-68 and merge onto Kentucky 33 S / Troy Pike. Travel 1.2 miles. Turn Left onto KY-169 / Pinckard Pike. Continue to follow KY-169 S. Travel 7 miles. Turn right onto Kentucky 1267 / KY-169 S / S Elkhorn Rd / Keene-Troy Rd. Take the 1st left onto KY-169 S / Keene Rd. Travel 4.6 miles. Turn right onto US-27 S. Travel 8.6 miles. Turn right onto Hall Rd. Proceed on Hall Rd about 0.7 miles to the blacktop lane on the right marked Payne Lane. Turn right onto Payne Lane. Proceed 200-300 yards, and when the road curves, continue straight onto a gravel drive to a fenced area. the gravel drive leads to the preserve parking area.