Changes at Tom Dorman

I first visited Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve (SNP) in 2009, discovering the nearby retreat on a day when Raven Run in Fayette County was closed. Since I first visited over a decade ago, the SNP has grown to over 900 acres to become “one of the largest natural areas in the region.” Exposed on its trails are wonderful vistas of the Kentucky River Palisades as well as many rare species, caves, and rocky cliffs.

The cliffs of the palisades some 220 feet over the Kentucky River with mosaic coloring dominate. The cliffs were cut through the limestone rock by the river between 400,000 and 1 million years ago.

Hiking along the trails at Tom Dorman SNP in 2018. Author’s collection.

An old stage coach route through the forest serves as the basis for the main trail which is a “moderately strenuous two-mile loop.” There is a half-mile spur which provides views of the river gorge and another short loop goes down to the banks of the river.

Changes Coming

But for those of us who enjoy visiting Tom Dorman, there are a few changes to note. A new parking lot is accessible directly off US 27 making Tom Dorman SNP much more accessible (and likely busier). Effective March 1, 2020, the old parking lot will be permanently closed. See the image below.

From the map, it is unclear how long the trail is from the new parking lot to the old two-mile loop. It appears, though, that the trail mileage at Tom Dorman SNP has dramatically increased. It’s time to go on another hike!

A friend of mine snapped this picture yesterday at Tom Dorman down by the Kentucky River.
Bryan Campbell.