The Pinnacles of Berea
Hike to Scenic Vistas on this Easy to Reach Hidden Gem
I have lived much of my life in Kentucky. There are few parts that I have not seen. Recently a Google search of “scenic Kentucky hikes” uncovered someplace new to me. The Pinnacles of Berea are a forest with over 6 miles of hiking trails that lie just 10 minutes from I-75. My parents have lived less than an hour away their whole lives and had never heard of it.
I was intrigued and decided to check it out. The Pinnacles of Berea lie just east of the small, college town of Berea. Craft enthusiasts know Berea as an arts and crafts haven. The town is truly charming. Your family will love it. We will visit it in a later post.The Pinnacles of Berea are operated by Berea College. Berea College is a unique school with an interesting history. Founded by an abolitionist, it was one of the first fully integrated colleges in the south (1865). Today, its focus is on low-income students of all races. Students at Berea College pay no tuition. They pay their tuition by working for the school.
I pulled into the gravel parking lot of the Pinnacles. Several cars were parked there, but it was not certainly not crowded. You need to bring water and possibly snacks. You will not find these nor restrooms here. Hiking the Pinnacles of Berea costs nothing, though.
Leaving the parking area, I entered the woods. The fresh smell of the forest greeted me. Even though it was quite warm, a thick canopy provided shade. The double track, dirt trail feels soft beneath the feet. The parking lot lies at about 900 feet elevation. The ridge line rises to about 1500 feet. It is a steady uphill trek to reach the apex.
When you near the ridge line, the grade becomes steep and rugged. Hiking the Pinnacles of Berea requires a moderate level of physical stamina.
A hard wood forest covers acres of Appalachian hills. Maple trees make up the majority of the canopy. Oaks and poplar are scattered among them. I recognized many Eastern redbuds in the understory. In the deeper woods, Christmas ferns grow among the fallen leaves. In more open areas, small blue flowers carpet the ground.
Three enormous rock outcroppings provide highlights of the Pinnacles of Berea. Upon reaching the ridge line, I made my way for the West Pinnacle. A huge rock, higher than my head, awaited. After scrambling up the to the top of it, I climbed atop the even larger second rock. Above the tree tops, the views stretched for miles. The vista provided sweeping views over the Appalachian hills in all directions. The end was definitely worth the journey.
The trails continue along the ridge to the other rocky vistas. Other hikers were present, but I felt a solitude and peace. The journey took me back to tramping alone through the woods as a child. Walking through the forest makes one feel alive.
I will return. In autumn, the maple trees will appear ablaze with brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds,. I do not want to miss it. When you pass through I-75 in Kentucky, take a detour on exit 76 East to Berea. Enjoy the town. Make sure to take time for a wonderful hike at the Pinnacles of Berea. You do not want to miss this hidden gem.
Which way do you want to go?