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Kentucky State Parks

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Highlands Region
Kentenia State Forest
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Kentenia is the oldest state-owned forest, acquired in 1919 as a gift from the Kentenia-Cantron Corporation. It is located in Harlan County along the south side of Pine Mountain in seven scattered tracts totaling 4,277 acres. The largest of these tracts is accessible by Little Shepherd Trail and contains Goss Park Camping Area on the crest of Pine Mountain.
History of the Area
Kentenia State Forest, located in southeastern Kentucky, has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s. Here is a brief overview of the forest's history:

- Formation: In 1919, the Kentucky legislature authorized the establishment of the State Forest Commission, with the goal of acquiring and managing forest lands in the state. As a result, Kentenia State Forest was officially established in 1925, becoming the first state forest in Kentucky.

- Original Purpose: The primary purpose of establishing Kentenia State Forest was to support forest research and provide a demonstration area for sustainable forest management practices. The State Forest Commission aimed to promote the replanting of trees on logged and degraded lands, including barren areas and surface-mined lands.

- Acquisition of Land: The initial land acquisition for Kentenia State Forest started in 1925. Additional parcels were gradually added over the years, expanding the total forest area to its current size of approximately 3,994 acres. Most of the acquired lands came from tax delinquent properties and privately owned lands.

- Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC): During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) played a crucial role in the development and improvement of Kentenia State Forest. CCC camps were established within the forest, providing employment to young men and enabling the construction of roads, trails, firebreaks, and recreational facilities.

- Reforestation and Forest Management: With assistance from the Kentucky Division of Forestry, continuous efforts were made to reforest Kentenia State Forest. The initial focus was on planting trees to reclaim previously barren or deforested areas. Over time, sustainable forest management practices were implemented, including timber harvesting, wildlife habitat improvements, fire protection, and educational programs.

- Public Recreation: Kentenia State Forest has always been open for various recreational activities. In the early years, hunting was a popular activity, and designated hunting areas were established. Later, the forest started offering opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, picnicking, and horseback riding. Today, it continues to provide a range of recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors alike.

Throughout its history, Kentenia State Forest has played a vital role in advancing sustainable forestry practices and promoting public enjoyment of Kentucky's natural resources.
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Kentenia State Forest is

1. Little Shepherd Trail: This is a 38-mile long trail that winds through the forest, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It's suitable for both hiking and mountain biking.

2. Kingdom Come State Park Trails: Located within Kentenia Forest boundaries, these trails offer varying levels of difficulty from easy to challenging hikes with steep inclines or rocky terrains.

3. Pine Mountain Trail System: A part of this extensive trail system runs through Kentenia State Forest providing hikers an opportunity to explore diverse landscapes including hardwood forests, streams, cliffs and wildlife habitats.

4. High Rock Loop Trail: An approximately two miles looped hike featuring beautiful wildflowers in springtime along with scenic overlooks throughout its course making it ideal for nature lovers as well as photography enthusiasts.

5. Raven Rock Overlook Hiking Pathway: Known for its breathtaking view at over 3100 feet above sea level; this pathway provides stunning vistas across Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains range.

6. Leatherwood Loop: Another popular route among experienced trekkers due to its rugged terrain which includes several creek crossings requiring careful navigation during wet conditions.

7. Sand Cave & White Rocks National Recreation Area: Although technically not inside KSF boundary but very close by, offers adventurous day:hikes leading up towards sandstone formations known locally as 'White Rocks' besides exploring unique geological feature like 'Sand cave'.

8. Bad Branch Falls Nature Preserve: Features moderately difficult three mile round trip trek culminating into spectacular waterfall sight especially after rains.

9. Timber Ridge Horse Campground Trails: These are equestrian:friendly paths winding their way around campgrounds while also connecting directly onto main network allowing horse riders enjoy same natural beauty on hoof instead foot!

10. Cumberland Shadow RailTrail: For those preferring flatter paved surfaces rather than uneven woodland tracks then CSRT running parallel alongside Cumberland River might be just perfect choice!

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From Interstate 75 take Exit 29 (Corbin - Barbourville) off of Interstate 75, travel south on U.S. 25 E to Pineville. Follow signs to Pine Mountain State Resort Park. The park adjoins Kentucky Ridge Forest on the northeastern portions. The forest is bisected by Highway 190 when traveling west of Pineville to Chenoa.

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Kentucky State Parks