Pennyrile State Forest, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Caldwell, Christian, and Hopkins Counties, 201 acres in four tracts funded by the KHLCF out of 14,379 total acres.
Pennyrile State Forest is one of nine State Forests and encompasses 14,379 total acres. The forest includes Pennyrile State Resort Park and borders Lake Beshear. This, like all the other state forests, are working forests and are managed following ecosystem management approach to demonstrate sustainable use while maintaining biological diversity and water quality. For example, one of the sites purchased with HLCF funding was clear cut and the Division of Forestry is studying forest regeneration where an aggressive species, the Virginia Pine, is adjacent. This site is regenerating into oaks, ash, tulip tree, sassafras, black gum and ash. Forest communities present include oak-hickory with beech-maple coves, acidic mesophytic, successional forested wetlands and cliffline and rockhouse. The acid mesophytic forest, which occurs below the bluffs, is dominated by beech, white oak, northern red orak, sourwood and sugar maple with an understory of service berry, redbud, flowering dogwood and sassafras. Spicebush is a common shrub and it has a fairly diverse wildflower display with wild ginger, white trout lily, squirrel corn, phacelia and toadshade or sessile trillium. The cliffline and rockhouse communities are typical with hay-scented and marginal wood fern, downy alumroot, and wild hydrangea. On the bluff tops the forests are dominated by scarlet oak, mockernut hickory, pignut hickory, and Virginia pine with farkleberry, serviceberry and red cedar as understory trees. High bush blueberry is a common shrub. The final upland community found here is dominated by Spanish oak, white oak, scarlet oak, mockernut hickory, pignut hickory, American beech, red cedar, and flowering dogwood with a sparse understory of Christmas fern, ebony spleenwort, broomsedge and the exotic, invasive silky lespedeza. The successional forested wetlands near the lake are dominated by sweetgum, red maple, sycamore, buttonbush, sensitive fern, river oats, and cardinal flower. More than 230 species of plants, 56 birds, 5 mammals, 7 amphibians, and 4 reptiles have been counted on HLCF tracts.
State forests are open to the public for hiking, wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing and other activities. Off-road vehicle use, including ATVs, is prohibited on all state forest land. To find the forest, take Exit 24 (Dawson Springs) off the Western Kentucky Parkway and follow Highway 109 South to Pennyrile State Resort Park. Pennyrile State Resort Park is located in the middle of the Pennyrile State Forest.