Jessamine Creek Gorge Nature Preserve

By Jeremy Patton

Jessamine Creek Gorge Nature Preserve is located in Jessamine County, Kentucky.

A cascade on Overstreet Creek

From US-27, drive west on KY-1268 for 2.6 miles. Turn left onto Corman Lane. Continue for about 1.1 miles then park across from the trailhead on your left. The parking area is quite small.

The preserve’s main attraction is Overstreet Falls. Overstreet Creek is a tributary of Jessamine Creek.

Jessamine Creek Gorge Trail did not lead to the waterfall. To be honest, there was very little to see from the trail. It felt like walking through a city park. There were a few overlooks, but they were obscured by foliage (my first visit was in May). Winter would be the best time to enjoy the trail, though even then I doubt that the overlooks would be unobstructed.

Jessamine Creek Gorge Overlook in May

The preserve receives entirely too much traffic. The trail is more than sufficiently trodden and there are countless unofficial paths leading down to Overstreet Creek, trampling plant life and causing erosion.

I noticed this problem immediately and proceeded cautiously to Overstreet Falls. I will describe the route that I took, which I believe to be the least-damaging to habitat.

Near the crest of Overstreet Falls

From the trailhead, hike south. You will pass through woods, a field and a powerline clearing. You will arrive at a footbridge that crosses Overstreet Creek.

I completed the entire trail before descending to the creek from the bridge. Jessamine Creek Gorge Trail is out-and-back with a short loop at the end.

With a few exceptions, I was able to walk the bedrock to the waterfall. The way was generally clear thanks to an absence of rhododenron. It was a karst area, so the wet limestone was slick as ice. This route was the least damaging to habitat, but certainly not the safest.

The creek stair-stepped down to the gorge rim, producing a series of beautiful cascades and waterfalls. I have named the significant ones below.

Overstreet Falls #5

Overstreet Falls #4

Overstreet Falls #3

Overstreet Falls #2

Upper Tier of Overstreet Falls

The crest of Overstreet Falls was no place to fool around. Deadly drop-offs abounded; erosion and slick limestone made the spot especially dangerous. I believed that a way down resided nearby, but it was raining hard. I deemed the conditions too risky and turned back.

The crest

I examined a rock formation to the left of the crest that I call Anvil Rock. From there, I caught a few glimpses of the bluffs towering over Jessamine Creek. The way down must be somewhere on the other side of Overstreet Creek. I hope to find it soon.

Anvil Rock

My first visit to Jessamine Creek Gorge was bitter-sweet. I found Overstreet Falls, but failed to reach its base, which was no big deal because I will eventually return. What bothered me most was the realization that the wilderness of the Bluegrass region has virtually disappeared. Only a scattering of preserves near the Kentucky River and its tributaries have escaped development, mainly due to their inaccessibility. It is all commerical property, subdivisons and farm land.

This tragedy serves as a reminder for back home. Our less-developed counties need to stay that way. There are not many wilderness areas left in Kentucky, so we must oppose any and all encroachment upon them.

Jessamine Creek Gorge Trail is about 2.7 miles round-trip. It is easy, with some ups and downs.

Added 5/9/17