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Day trip to Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

It is always a good time to visit the 734-acre Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, but early to mid-April is the ideal time to see the glorious spring wildflowers. 

Located in southeastern Fayette County, Raven Run is just a short drive from Jessamine County. 

If your timing is right, you can expect to see acres of blue-eyed Mary near the edge of the woods. Step a bit farther into the woods and look for loads of larkspur, phlox, wood hyacinth, columbine and wood poppies. 

You may also see trillium, Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauties and many more. 

There are self-guided trails with maps available at the nature center, or you can take a guided wildflower walk on April 14 or 22 at 1 p.m. (I would go to the April 14 walk as the flowers are early this year). 

I recommend taking the Red Trail to the Kentucky River Overlook; careful here, watch your kids!  The overlook is at the top of the Palisades with a spectacular view. 

At this point, you may choose to return to the parking lot, but if you are up for a longer walk, continue on the Red Trail a short distance further to the Yellow Trail. This trail (1/3 of a mile) is a bit more difficult, but it is the most beautiful trail in the sanctuary and it allows viewing of the Flower Bowl preserve. The Yellow Trail now connects back to the Red Trail.  Once again you can choose to return, or to complete the rest of the 4.1-mile loop. 

If you continue, be sure to take the side trail to the historic Evan’s Mill Pond and Dam, which is on Raven Run Creek. 

This is a gorgeous area, featuring a waterfall, and you will be glad you came.  There is also a paved “Freedom Trail” that is next to the parking lot and allows for wheeled access.

The wildflowers are not the only stars of the sanctuary.  The meadows are full of butterflies and other insects in the summer.  There are more than 600 species of plants in the sanctuary and it hosts more than 200 species of birds. 

Listen for that wild turkey gobbling in the distance. There are old rock fences, an iron kiln, and an historic 19th Century house. 

Be sure to see the nature center. There are many interesting displays and “hands-on” exhibits as well as educational pamphlets about the plants, animals and history of the sanctuary. 

Pack a picnic lunch, take your camera, and enjoy a lovely day in nature.

Visit the Raven Run web site (www.ravenrun.org) for directions, hours of operation and rules (no pets).

Mark Reinhardt is professional geologist who call Nicholasville home. He is a regular vendor at the Wilmore Farmers Market and can be reached at  rockheadmark@outlook.com.

Mark Reinhardt is a lifestyle columnist who contributes to the Jessamine Journal.