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Wooded Wonders

Get a Knack for Nature at Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead

Writer / Susan Speece
Photography Provided

When you think about a “must-go” place to visit in the local area, Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead should be on your radar, if it isn’t already. People unfamiliar with the Bluegrass State may think about the natural beauty of Red River Gorge, the pastoral setting of Lexington’s horse farms or Louisville’s historic Churchill Downs. Hidden inside the Gene Snyder Freeway at Taylorsville Road, you will find 280 acres of natural beauty in your own backyard.Blackacre State Nature Preserve

However, Blackacre is a hidden gem that offers much more than meets the eye. It not only offers superior hands-on nature and history education programs throughout the school year, but it’s also becoming a regular destination for Louisville residents and out-of-town visitors. It’s where outdoor enjoyment, the farm experience and Kentucky history can be found in one place.

Blackacre includes hiking trails, a historic homestead that was built near the time Kentucky became a state, the largest community garden in Jefferson County and so much more.

“We try to keep the farm and homestead like it was in the 18th and 19th centuries,” says Dennis Craig, Blackacre executive director. “We want families to see this as a place where they can unplug from the 21st century and go back in time to relax a little bit.”

You can leave the busy world behind at Blackacre and see what it’s like to be on a real working farm, home to cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and horses. If you come out any day of the week, you will find people feeding apples and carrots to the farm animals along the fences.

“The farm animals play a large role in our environmental education programs, including field trips, summer camps and our Saturday Morning Farm Animal Feeding program,” says Nancy Pifer, a longtime volunteer and head of the animal care team. On Saturday mornings you can drop by to meet Pifer and help the animal care team feed the animals, while learning about caring for livestock.

“The homestead is an outdoor museum where people can learn about the historic barn, spring house and stone cottage,” says Susan Speece, director of marketing and events.

Next to the Presley Tyler House is a colonial kitchen garden, established by Amy James, along with naturalist and master gardener Liam Dellagnello. It includes homeopathic and culinary herbs and plants present in gardens during this time. During the summer on Sundays, docents dressed in period attire bring history to life, offering tours of the 1844 Presley Tyler House.

Blackacre State Nature PreserveBlackacre’s hiking trails provide opportunities for nature appreciation and passive recreation. The trails lead through forests, meadows, wetlands and streams. Guided hikes offered throughout the year focus on plants and fauna found on the preserve. Hikes are a great opportunity to celebrate the change in seasons and embrace Kentucky’s history and folklore.

Blackacre is home to many birds and wildlife. The avian population includes wild turkey, barred owls, red-tail hawks and Henslow’s sparrows, a rare bird in Kentucky. With numerous ponds and streams, Blackacre supports a healthy population of snakes, salamanders, frogs and toads. And when driving down the gravel lane into the preserve, be ready to brake for turtles.

Through the Bobwhite license plate grant, Blackacre and the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves will be revitalizing the savanna woodlands on Sunrise Trail. Savanna woodlands provide excellent habitats for Bobwhite quail and other migratory songbirds and pollinators. This project will start a long-term savanna woodland restoration in Jefferson County at Blackacre.

Do you love to get outside and learn something new, or have a passion for history and healthy living? Or maybe you want your child to connect with nature to gain an appreciation and love for earth. Blackacre offers hikes, workshops, camps and outdoor events that promote health and wellness, as well as an appreciation for the environment and history.

Dr. Ryne Clos, an experienced teacher, historian and outdoorsman, recently joined the Blackacre team to lead and expand their education program. Clos grew up on a farm in rural Kentucky and understands firsthand the importance of nature and agricultural spaces for physical and mental well-being.

“What I like about Ryne is that he is a down-to-earth guy with a love for nature and learning,” Craig says. “I am excited about the high-caliber programs he is planning for this fall. There will be something for all ages to enjoy.”

Blackacre Conservancy is a volunteer and donor-driven nonprofit organization. Manpower, financial support and community involvement are vital to maintain a historic homestead and nearly 300 acres of land, in addition to the community events and activities. “It is so great to see and hear of people visiting Blackacre and wanting to volunteer,” Craig says. “We have an endless list of maintenance and improvement needs such as leaky roofs, worn-out pasture fences, landscaping, HVAC repair, potholes to fill, dead trees to cut, and the list continues. Many of these items require substantial financial outlay. We would be delighted if a company or persons skilled in these areas could help with their time, talent or treasure.”Blackacre State Nature Preserve

“One of the ways we raise money for Blackacre is our Sunday Sunset Music Series,” Craig adds. “It spans over four weeks, featuring music styles that originated in Kentucky. People bring their blankets and chairs and listen to bluegrass, jug music and more. This year’s lineup is the best yet. Kids feed the horses or climb hay bales while adults enjoy the music. It is a great place to unwind and enjoy music and the spectacular sunset. It’s just $20 per carload to attend.”

Blackacre is located off Taylorsville Road at 3200 Tucker Station Road. Gather your family and friends, bring a bag of carrots, unplug from the world and enjoy nature.

For more information on activities, events, volunteering and sponsorship opportunities, go to visitblackacre.org or call their office at 502-266-9802.

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