Monday, June 2, 2008

Kentucky's Knob Belt

Most of eastern Kentucky is covered by the Appalachian Plateau, its western edge angling from the northeast to the southwest and running just east of Maysville, Berea and Somerset. Capped by the Pottsville Escarpment of Pennsylvanian sandstone, this edge rises up to 500 feet above the Lexington Peneplain (the Bluegrass Region), which covers the north-central part of the State.

The boundary of the Peneplain and the Plateau is characterized by a chain of "knobs," dissected from the Plateau by stream erosion; these topographic remnants, which comprise the Knob Belt, parallel the margin of the Appalachian Plateau from Maysville to Berea, producing scenic vistas for the traveller and regional diversity for the naturalist.

Perhaps the best place to explore this Edge of Appalachia is at the Berea College Forest, off Kentucky Route 21, 3 miles east of Berea. Over 19 miles of hiking trails lead up and along the narrow ridgetops of the preserve, offering spectacular views into the adjacent valleys and out across the Lexington Peneplain. One interesting feature is the Devil's Kitchen, a large recessed cave on the eastern edge of Indian Fort Mountain.