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This preserve was previously owned by the Kentucky River Authority (KRA), and was dedicated as the Kentucky River Authority Palisades State Nature Preserve on December 20, 1996. The preserve was named in 1999 to honor former KRA director and commission chairman Tom Dorman and his efforts to acquire the site. With additional acreage dedicated in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2011, the spectacular 220-foot palisades along the Kentucky River in Garrard and Jessamine counties is now one of the largest natural areas in the region. The Nature Conservancy owns 10 acres on the Jessamine County side.  

The Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve is one of the largest protected natural areas in the Kentucky River Palisades region. Several rare plants are located on the limestone cliffs including starry cleft phlox (Phlox bifida var. stellaria) and Eggleston's violet (Viola septemloba var. egglestonii). 

The Garrard County part of the preserve is open to the public, sunrise to sunset year-round. Due to fragile habitats and its inaccessibility, the Jessamine County tract is currently closed to the public due to access issues.

  • Features - 220-foot limestone palisade walls, rare plants, Kentucky River.
  • Hiking - Foot trail through the forest and to the river, two-mile loop; moderately difficult, with hills and steps.
  • Parking - eight cars
  • Hazards - Extremely high cliffs.
  • Activities - Hiking, nature study, birding, etc.


From Nicholasville, follow Rt. 27 south for approximately nine miles. Immediately after crossing the Kentucky River into Garrard County, turn right into the Parking lot (marked with a brown Nature Preserve sign.

**The old parking lot will be closing on March 1st 2020. 

TD- closure sign.png

Access Type: Open to Public
County: Garrard
Region: Bluegrass Region
Size: 945.95
Owner: Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves|The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky
  • ​Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves
Purchased with Assistance of:
Lat: 37.762458
Long: -84.617161
Image of Terrapin Creek

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