NoDestination: Tom Dorman Nature Preserve

I wanted to take my sister hiking on the day after Christmas and we were disappointed to find Raven Run closed. No trouble, I thought: we could go to another nearby hiking retreat. The Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve (SNP) encompasses over 800 acres in Garrard and Jessamine Counties (the Jessamine County acreage is not accessible to the public).

The main two-mile loop is described as moderately strenuous, but it is a beautiful walk that follows an old stage coach route. The SNP contains many varieties of trees, several rare species of wildflowers and diverse mammal and reptile populations (other than the trees, I witnessed none of the above).

The most spectacular feature of Tom Dorman is its view of the Palisades. The exposed limestone appears as a mosaic of color and dates to a period when Kentucky was under a shallow sea (thus, marine fossils abound). The Kentucky River began to cut its path through the Palisades about 400,000 to 1 million years ago exposing the ancient Ordovician (450-500 million year old) rock – the oldest exposed rock in the state.

I expect Tom Gorman SNP to grow in popularity. In 2007, the Commonwealth purchased 90 acres of land adjacent to the SNP for the development of Palisades State Park. I hope to visit Tom Dorman again soon (with better equipment than an iPhone!).

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