By Jeremy Patton
Three Forks Spur #512B to Three Forks of Beaver Overlook is located in Beaver Creek Wilderness, Daniel Boone National Forest, McCreary County, Kentucky.
From US-27, 16 miles south of Somerset, turn east onto Bauer Road (Forest Service Road 50), drive about two miles then turn onto Forest Service Road 51. Continue for less than a mile to the Three Forks trailhead. Several signs are posted along the route.
From the gravel parking lot, embark at the Three Forks of Beaver Loop #512 to the left of the gated road (marked 51 C). You will soon arrive at an unmarked path intersecting the trail. Ignore the path and continue straight ahead.
Hike for less than one mile to the intersection of trails #512A and #512B. None of them are adequately marked, although on May 12, 2015, a downed sign depicting a pair of binoculars identified the way to the overlook. A second sign stated “Wildlife Viewing Area.” If the signs are missing, follow the ridge to the overlook. Turning right continues the loop back to the parking lot. Turning left descends below the cliff-line to Beaver Creek.
Three Forks Spur #512B is a short 0.25-mile trek that dead-ends at the developed Three Forks of Beaver Overlook. The rocky outcrop towers over the point where Freeman Fork, Middle Fork and Little Hurricane Fork join to form Beaver Creek. On 5/12/15 I could not see the waterways because the forest was in full bloom, but they carved meandering, visible tree-lines.
The view was gorgeous, but I also enjoyed this overlook because the forest was close to my back, providing shade. This is important for a white boy because it is hard to enjoy most overlooks during the summer without being baked and burned.
The journey to Three Forks of Beaver Overlook is easy and I highly recommend it. It is a perfect place to rest and eat lunch.
2/18/17 – Delania and I set off for the overlook on a chilly, overcast day. I looked forward to standing there again because the forest was naked, making the lay of the land easier to discern.
We followed our ears and climbed into a small ravine to examine a nine-foot waterfall hidden just below the trail. I must not have heard it a few years prior because it had probably dried up. It was not flowing strong, but will be worth another look after significant rain. I call it Three Forks of Beaver Falls #2 because it resides near the trail. I will talk about waterfall #1 later.
I found a natural arch just downstream from the waterfall: Three Forks of Beaver Arch #1. It was fairly easy to get to and examine from both sides.
After reaching the base of the cliff, we followed it northwest then spotted a concavity above us. We could not confirm that it was a natural arch until I climbed up and discovered an opening supported by a crumbling pillar: Three Forks of Beaver Arch #2. It appeared inaccessible, but I hope to get a better view from above later.
The bluffs soared as we continued northwest. The area was surprisingly unobstructed, so little bushwhacking was necessary. Fascinating rock formations, shrubs and multicolored sands lined the route, undisturbed thanks to light traffic. We stumbled upon Three Forks of Beaver Falls #1, plummeting about 40 feet. I believe that its source was the same ravine that the trail paralleled early on. We ate a snack then returned to the parking lot because we were short on time.
Delania and I never made it to the overlook, because we found another adventure. It is good to have a plan when you hike, but do not be afraid to scrap it when other opportunities arise.
2/19/17 – We returned to Beaver Creek Wilderness, determined to visit the overlook. We wanted to go caving that day, but a rainy forecast prompted us to change our plans. Caving is generally unsafe during wet weather.
The landscape’s appearance had changed dramatically due to the change of season. The lack of foliage helped me better study the bluffs and ravines that I plan to fully explore in the coming years.
The overlook faced northwest, so the sun was harsh on an unusually warm February evening, at around 2:00 p.m. I convinced my beautiful girlfriend to don my floppy hat to keep the sun out of her eyes. She accepted and it added +5 to sexiness.
Our photos were overexposed, but I was able to salvage a few with some manipulation in Photoshop. Unless you are a photographer with good equipment, the best time to take pics at this overlook is in the morning or on an overcast day.
3/9/17 – Thanks to recent precipitation, I was able to capture better photos of Three Forks of Beaver Falls #1 and #2.
It felt like a spring day, hot enough to be slightly uncomfortable while hiking. Delania and I left the woods early because I had to get back to London for work. We sat down at “The Goodie Shack” in Burnside for lunch. When we returned to my car, I realized that I had left it running in the parking lot; thankfully I had not locked the doors. It was like the Twilight Zone. I have no idea why I made such a blunder.
The last time that I did something so stupid was at Cumberland Falls, when I was in my early 20s. On that occasion, I left the car running with the doors locked. Some friendly staff at the facility managed get it open with a special tool.
Added 5/12/15 – Updated 3/9/17