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New Date: April 23rd-25th 2021!

This event was supposed to take place April 2020 at Pine Mountain State Resort Park. In response to COVID-19, the CDC has advised us to cancel all gatherings exceeding 50 people until further notice. Due to uncertainty, safety, and restrictions we have decided that is is best to cancel the 2020 Nature Summit and it has been rescheduled for the following year.  Registration will take place at a later time. 

The Schedule below is subject to change.

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Friday Evening

Check in, and join us for a welcome dinner at the park (on your own). Presentations, evening social, and wildlife movie night to follow. Mingle with wildlife professionals, experts, naturalist and enthusiasts alike. 

A kid friendly wildlife movie will be playing in the conference room right next door. Bring your sleeping bags and favorite pajamas for this special kids activity!


Field Trip Day! We will be traveling to many different natural areas in the Pine Mountain area to explore its great biodiversity. Participants must sign-up up in advance, limited spots available. 

For families who do not wish to travel and hike long distances, there will be many activities and local field trips taking place all day long!

Join us on exclusive evening field trips led by experts to learn about the creatures that come out at night. 

For these field trips, expect to be in the woods for an extended period of time. Bring your own lunch or pre-order a lunch for pick-up at Pine Mountain State Park Dining Service. **(Parks will not provide a boxed lunch day of, you must call and order ahead) 

Start time, duration, and transportation details vary for each one. Be sure to check specific field trip information. Limited spots: participants must pre sign up to attend in the registration process. 

  • iNaturalist Bioblitz at Lilley Cornett Woods
Lilley Cornett Woods is a tract of land made up of mixed mesophytic and old growth forest owned and used by Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) for education and research.  Participants will learn how to use iNaturalist and collect data for a biological inventory of a new tract adjacent to the property! This is an off-trail moderately strenuous activity because of the topography. Participants should wear comfortable hiking boots, and pants.  A smart device with the iNaturalist App is recommended. Bring a lunch or snacks, and plenty of water. Cookout food will be available at site for 5-6$.

    • Duration: 8:30 am-3:00 pm (travel time included)
    • Location: Lilly Cornett Woods
    • Transportation: Provided from Park by EKU (optional: EKU vans cannot provide transportation for anyone under 18) meet in front of the lodge at 8:30 am
    • Travel Time: 1 hour 45 min: 70 miles (one way)
    • Limit: 20 spots

  • Biodiversity of Blanton Forest Hike
Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve features one of the largest old growth forests in KY. It is a diverse ecological treasure and hosts many habitat and community types such as hemlock/mixed forest, xeric/oak hickory forest, and mesic hardwood forest.  Enjoy a guided hike led by Preserve Managers, Kyle Napier and Preston Lacey, to look for and learn about the many species that call Blanton Forest home.

Features include: Salamander identification, plant identification, old growth forest system education, Knobby Rock, The Maze, and Sand Cave. The hike will include the Knobby Rock Loop and Sand Cave Loop totaling to approximately 4.5 miles. The hike is rated strenuous; Bring plenty of water, packed lunch, or snacks. Participants should wear long pants, and comfortable hiking boots.

    • Duration: 8:45 am-4:00 pm (travel time included)
    • Location: Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve
    • Transportation: Provided from Park (optional) meet in front of the lodge at 8:45am
    • Travel Time: 45 min; 39 miles (one way)
    • Limit: 15

  • Prescribed Fire as a Management Tool 
This hike will take you to the only pitch pine barrens in Kentucky. Unlike much of Pine Mountain, this unique natural area is an open park-like pine barrens with many interesting plants in the understory. This rare natural community is a great example of a fire dependent system. Controlled burns are often used to prevent catastrophic wildfires, and did you know that Kentucky Nature Preserves has been using this tool for over 20 years to help maintain our Natural Areas?  Join Prescribed Fire Manager Josh Lillpop and Ecologist Martina Hines, on a hike through the  recently burned pine barrens of Hi Lewis. Participants will look at the effects of wildfires, and discuss the benefits of prescribed fire to rare plants and communities.

 This hike is moderate/strenuous due to elevation changes and uneven terrain.  Participants should wear long pants, comfortable hiking boots, bring their own lunch or snacks, and have plenty of water. Bring your camera to capture the great views of nearby Black Mountain. You might also want to bring a pair pf binoculars, as this is also an exceptional birding spot.

    • Duration: 9:15am - 3:30pm (travel time included)
    • Location: Hi Lewis Pine Barrens State Nature Preserve
    • Transportation: Provided from Park (optional) meet in front of the lodge at 9:15am
    • Travel Time: 1 hr 20min; 50 miles(one way)
    • Limit: 10

  • Lichens of the Mountains
The rocky-outcrop habitats of Chained Rock  is a diverse refuge for many lichens among the shady mountain forests. Join OKNP lichenologist Kendall McDonald to explore the outcrop and learn about the lichen flora of this region. This is a 1 mile out-and-back moderate hike that includes stairs, elevation changes, some steep rocky terrain, and no safety barriers at the overlook (not recommended for children). Much of the outcrop’s lichen diversity occurs on the actual rock, so being comfortable with heights and rock scrambling is recommended. Participants should wear comfortable, weather appropriate clothing and closed toed shoes with good tread. Lunch not provided, participants must bring their own food and drinks. A hand lens or portable magnifying tool is recommended, not provided.

    • Duration: 9:00am-2:30pm
    • Location: Chained Rock Trail
    • Transportation: Not provided. Personal Vehicles (Carpooling encouraged) meet in front of lodge at 9:00 am
    • Travel Time: 10 min; 3.8 miles (one way)
    • Limit: 15

  • Bad Branch State Nature Preserve Hike

Join KNP botanist Heidi Braunreiter and Cumberland Falls SRP Naturalist Olivia Immitt, on a hike through Bad Branch SNP. This preserve protects the largest concentrations of rare and uncommon species known to the state! We’ll pass babbling brooks and hemlock groves through a deep ravine on our way to a 60-foot waterfall that crowns the natural beauty of this site. Learn about rare plants, medicinal plants, and the overall forest ecology of the area. Please wear appropriate attire (long pants, and hiking boots or comfortable close toed shoes). Bring plenty of water, lunch, and a hand lens if you have one. This is 2-mile moderately difficult hike due to elevation change.

    • Duration: 9:00am-4:00 pm (travel time included)
    • Location: Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
    • Transportation: Provided from Park (optional) meet in front of the lodge at 9:00am
    • Travel Time: 1 hr 25 min; 70.3 miles (one way)
    • Limit: 15

​Shorter duration field trips and activities for the whole family! 

  • Wild Ones: Live animal education activity
Join Pine Mountain State Park Naturalist, Keith Bowling, in learning about some of the animals that call pine mountain home! See many native and exotic species up close and maybe you'll even be brave enough to hold one!
    • Duration: 1:00pm-2:30pm
    • Location: Pine Mountain Interpretive Center
    • Transportation: None required.
    • Limit: None

  • Forest Invaders and Forest Health
Come learn about Forest Insect Invaders with Kentucky Division of Forestry's Forest Health Specialist, Alexandra Blevins. Participants will learn about these species up close and personal with preserved specimens. We will learn how these tiny organisms kill whole trees and damage entire forests! A short guided hike will take place after discussion to investigate the surrounding forest for insect invaders and how you can help identify them! This activity is being offered twice.

    • Duration: Two sessions, 10:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-3:00pm
    • Location: Pine Mountain Lodge Conference Room
    • Transportation: None required.
    • Limit: 20

  • Stream Ecology
Join aquatic biologists to explore the aquatic life within the streams of eastern Kentucky.  Participates will get hands-on experience in the collection, identification, life history, and ecology of the fishes, salamanders, and macroinvertebrates that inhabit the small mountain streams of the Cumberland River.  Participates will learn and actively assist in the basic collecting techniques of the animals and learn the defining characteristic that help distinguish one species from another, as well as, general principles of stream ecology.  Participates should expect to get in the stream, get wet, have fun, and actively help with the collection of the organisms.  It is important to note that stream work is fun, but can be hazardous because of slippery rocks; caution and mindfulness should always be considered when entering a stream and moving within the stream channel.  It is essential to wear footwear and clothing that is protective, sturdy, and can tolerate being saturated in the water (i.e., old tennis shoes and t-shirts). This field trip will be offered twice that day.

    • Duration: 3 hour sessions; 9:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-4:00pm (participants choose only one to attend)
    • Location: Clear Creek; Access from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College (CCBBC) parking lot
    • Transportation: Not provided. Participants will meet in CCBBC parking lot at 9:00am or 1:00pm (you must be there are the start of each session to participate).
    • Travel Time: 5 min from park lodge; 1.8 miles
    • Limit: 15 per session

  • Little Wildland Explorers: Kids Forest Hike at Pine Mountain
Enjoy a kid friendly hike on Pine Mountain State Park Led by KNP Biologists. An examination of forest diversity for the young and old.  From early spring wildflowers, mosses, insects to mushrooms, trees, and birds, participants can join in the biodiversity scavenger hunt and have a chance to earn Natural Heritage Explorer badges. This field trip is offered twice. Wear comfortable hiking shoes, and bring water.
    • Duration: Two sessions, 11:00am-12:00pm and 2:30-3:30pm meet in front of park lodge at field trip start time
    • Location: Pine Mountain Trails
    • Transportation: None required, hiking trails within walking distance from park lodge
    • Limit: 20

  • Springtime on Pine Mountain
Join KNP botanist Devin Rodgers on a loop hike at Pine Mountain State Park for a natural history overview of the region with a perspective on the spring season and changes it brings to the Pine Mountain ecosystem. Discussion will cover a broad variety of topics (plants, wildlife, geology, biogeography) during a 2-3 hour hike covering 3-4 miles. Binoculars are recommended for those interested in birds. Wear long pants and comfortable hiking shoes. Bring Snacks/lunch and plenty of water. 
    • Duration: 10:00am-1:00pm meet in front of park lodge at 10:00 am
    • Location: Pine Mountain Local Trails
    • Transportation: Not provided
    • Limit: 20

  • Bird Box Building
North American Blue Bird species seek cavities in trees for nesting sites. Today, invasive insect species, disease, and competition make natural cavities less abundant. Join KNP's Natural Areas Trail Manager, Doug Wilder, in building standard bluebird boxes and providing much needed nesting habitat for these native birds! Take your box home and install it on your property! (1 box per family/group)

    • Duration: Ongoing, 9:30am- Until materials run out
    • Location: TBA, on park grounds
    • Limit: None/until materials run out. 

  • Geology of the Pine Mountain Region: Presentation
Join staff from the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky for a presentation on the geology of the Pine Mountain area. Learn about ancient seas, rivers, mountain building, and a nearby meteor impact!

    • Duration: 3:00-4:00pm
    • Location: Pine Mountain Conference Room
    • Limit: None

Exclusive night time field trips! 

  • Creatures of the Night: Moth Sampling
Come and experience the amazing diversity of Kentucky’s moths. In this sampling session led by KNP's zoologist, you will be using a black-light to attract moths to a reflective white surface. This gives us the chance to get a first-hand look at the wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of these incredible creatures. With over 2000 species known from the state, how many can we see? Long pants, close toed shoes, long sleeved shirts, and bug spray (applied before arriving at sampling site) are recommended to protect yourself from mosquitos. Please bring water and a headlamp or flashlight (not provided).

    • Duration: 7:45 pm-TBD. Participants will meet in front of the park lodge at 7:45pm. Stop time dependent on favorable conditions. 
    • Location: Pine Mountain State Park Lodge Grounds
    • Transportation: None required: Sampling site will be within walking distance from park lodge
    • Limit: 30

  • Small Mammals of Pine Mountain: Bat mist netting and mammal trapping- FULL
Join Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) in a small mammal survey of Pine Mountain. Led by At-Risk Species Biologist, Zach Couch, participants will mist net for bats and check previously deployed (non-lethal) traps for small mammals that dwell in the forest floor. This field trip will take place at night, when nocturnal mammals are most active. Dress appropriately: Long pants, hiking boots or close toed shoes, Long sleeves are recommended to protect against mosquitos, bug spray recommended. Please bring water and a head lamp or flashlight (not provided).

    • Duration: 6:30 pm-10:30 pm; meet in front of the lodge at 6:30pm 
    • Location: Clear Creek Hollow Area
    • Transportation: A van will be available transport 11 people (first to sign-up) Carpooling recommended.
    • Limit: 15

  • Reptiles and Amphibians of Pine Mountain
Join Stantec Biologist, James Kiser, on a herpetology hike! Look for and learn about the many different salamander species that call Pine Mountain home. This field trip will occur on nearby Pine Mountain State Park Trails. Exact location will be determined at a later time. Please wear long pants, comfortable hiking shoes, and bring plenty of water. Flashlights or headlamps are recommended, but not required.  

    • Duration: 6:30 pm- 9:30 pm; meet in front of the park lodge at 6:30pm
    • Location: Pine Mountain State Park trails (location TBD)
    • Transportation: None required, trails are walking distance from park lodge.
    • Limit: 18


One optional, local field trip will be available Sunday morning before guests check-out. 

  • ​Birdwatching Hike - FULL
Over 107 bird species have been sighted in the Pine Mountain State Park area. Join KNP Biologists on a guided bird hike through beautiful and scenic trails that are just walking distance from the park lodge! Participants will learn how to identify common bird species as well as common calls/songs. Expect to hike between 1-3 miles through easy to moderately strenuous terrain. Wear comfortable hiking boots and pants. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and Binoculars if available. We will only have a limited number of binoculars to share.
    • Location: Lodge Access Trails: Honeymoon Falls, Hemlock Garden (specific trails may be adjusted day of)
    • Transportation: Not required: Field Trip will begin at trailheads outside of the lodge
    • Time: 8:30 am;  Participants will meet in front of the park lodge at this time
    • Limit: 20
    • Duration: 8:30- 11:00am

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