Due to COVID-19, Blanton Forest is closed to the public until further notice.
On September 15, 1995, the first 1,075 acres on the south face of Pine Mountain in Harlan County were dedicated as Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve, protecting half of the largest old-growth forest in Kentucky. Today, with assistance from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund and the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve protects 3,509 acres of old-growth and second-growth forests. As one of 13 large old-growth tracts remaining in the eastern United States, Blanton Forest is a diverse ecological treasure. Many of the trees are 3 feet to 4 feet in diameter, towering 100 feet above the forest floor. Several trees have been dated to the late 1600s. Blanton Forest contains several forest communities, including mountaintop wetlands known as acid seeps and mixed-mesophytic deciduous forest. Many tree species such as sugar maple, tulip poplar, various oaks, hemlocks, beech and several magnolias make up the forest canopy.
- Features - largest old-growth forest in Kentucky.
- Hiking - loop foot trail (four miles) up the south face of Pine Mountain, foot trail (one-half mile) along Watts Creek.
- Parking - lot adjacent to Camp Blanton.
- Hazards - steep slopes, venomous snakes and hazard trees.
- Activities - hiking, birding, nature photography and research.
Blanton Forest, Brigadoon, and Vernon-Douglas State Nature Preserves were recognized as being a part of the Old-Growth Forest Network in 2016. The Old-Growth Forest Network, a nationwide conservation organization, was created to identify a forest in each county which will remain in a natural condition.
Access: Due to COVID-19, Blanton Forest is closed to the public until further notice.