By Jeremy Patton
This article will discuss the many waterfalls and geologic formations along the 1.25-mile segment of KY-192 between Bee Rock Recreation Area and Helton Ridge Road in Pulaski County, Kentucky. Friends of mine who live there say that this is considered part of Mount Victory.
I do not know where Bee Rock Recreation Area officially ends and Mount Victory begins. For this article, I will assume that the KY-192 bridge marks the boundary.
Waterfalls in Pulaski and surrounding counties are so numerous, it is difficult to come up with original names for them all. I do not feel entitled to name them; I only do so for writing purposes.
I began exploring these forests in early February of 2016. There were few places to pull off on the roadside, so I parked at Bee Rock Recreation Area and walked up the mountain. I was in excellent shape, so the ascent did not tire me.
It took three days to survey the cliffs and ravines. I could spend weeks there, to be thorough, and I plan to do so this fall.
All of the sights are off-trail. They are not remote, due to their proximity to the highway, but are difficult to reach and rarely visited (with a few exceptions).
From the bridge, walk west on KY-192 for about 0.1 miles to the first waterway that passes beneath the road. Follow the ravine north into the forest for a few hundred meters. Keep the creek to your right for the easiest route. The impressive canyon walls open up as you approach the dead-end where Mount Victory Falls plummets into the ravine. To my knowledge, it is the highest waterfall in the area. The scene is unique and hard to describe — it is like a ravine within a canyon. I am not satisfied with the name, but it is the best I can think of for now.
The next ravine resides less than a quarter mile from the bridge. A large waterfall lives at its end. When I visited on 2/4/16, during flooding, it was wide like a curtain, hence the name: Curtain Falls.
I dub the ravine at 0.4 miles, Four Prong Ravine because four prongs merge to create a single creek. The satellite image also resembles a bird’s foot. Significant waterfalls live on the two western-most prongs: Four Prong Falls #1 and Four Prong Falls #2. They are small, but lovely. I believe that the second waterfall skirts private property because I could see a structure atop the cliff. The structure is probably part of Rockcastle Bluffs Subdivision.
A few curiosities adorn the west wall of Four Prong Ravine near KY-192. Cleft Falls flows through a cleft then spews out of an opening near the cliff-base. A second stream also eats its way through the rock then emerges from a hole in the cliff-side: Hole-in-the-Wall Falls.
Polka Dot Rock, a series of evenly spaced stone circles, can be found in the back of a shallow rock shelter near the eastern-most prong. I stared for quite some time, wondering how they could have formed. I later learned that they are known to Geologists as Liesegang rings and the mechanism from which they form is not entirely understood. Liesegang rings are abundant in Kentucky, but I had never seen a series so circular and evenly spaced.
I made one of my most surprising discoveries at about 0.75 miles from the bridge. On the north shoulder looms an enormous rock slab standing upright. Behind it resides a massive rock shelter and waterfall. As a teenager, I drove past it countless times while on my way to spend the night at my friend Junior’s house in Mount Victory. I could see the rock shelter, but the slab and trees obscured the waterfall. When I grew older and more experienced, I realized that a rock shelter of that shape and size had likely been formed by water. I walked up the steep mountain and, sure enough, I heard water crashing. I call it Hidden Falls.
On the south side of KY-192, a waterway flows through a deep ravine paralleling the road: Sublimity Springs. I have yet to follow it upstream to its source. I hope to find a cave, which would not be surprising considering that Pulaski County boasts numerous cave systems.
Continue walking a short distance up the mountain and look across the ravine on your left. A multi-tier waterfall bounds down the cliff then meets Sublimity Springs. I cautiously climbed into the ravine and managed to get near one of the tiers. The thick foliage made it difficult to photograph. I call it Sublimity Springs Tributary Falls. You can catch a glimpse of it from the road.
There are several more waterfalls and rock formations that I have not yet mentioned. I will update this article in the coming months.
Russell and I toured the Mount Victory area on 2/25/18. It was his first time seeing some of its lesser known gems. Russell is the only person I have led to the secret Bee Rock Arch. I told him to “resist the Dark Side” – the temptation to share its location with others. He is an experienced and responsible outdoorsman and understands that there are many idiots who would vandalize one of the most pristine arches in Kentucky.
I have already wrote about these amazing places, so I will let the following photos continue their story. Pulaski County was at flood stage, so its waterfalls were at their best.
Added 8/20/16 – Updated 2/25/18