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.