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the Pinnacles

INDIAN FORT THEATER, BEREA KENTUCKY

 

Located in the Berea College Forest - one of the oldest managed private forests in the United States - the Pinnacles provide over seven miles of hiking and running trails with scenic lookouts and breathtaking views at every turn.

 
 
 
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Indian Fort Mountain

Indian Fort Mountain is located in the heart of the Berea Forest. The Hopewell, Adena, and Shawnee Native Americans lived among the many cliffs, knobs, and valleys of the forest making Indian Fort Mountain their prime settlement. The mountain is very steep and has many cliffs but also many breaks in the cliff line. At every cliff break, a carefully constructed stone wall blocked access to anyone climbing up from below. Behind each were piles of rocks about the size of bowling balls. Archaeologists believe these were to throw on any invaders attempting to scale the mountain.

Natural springs were sprinkled throughout the mountain. Dams were constructed to create a pool where clay pots could be filled. On top, there are several lookout stations facing in various directions.  This is one reason hikers are required to stay on the trails. Indian Fort Mountain is still a very active archaeological site. The clefts now used for trails have been cleared of walls and rock piles but there are many others off trail. 

 
 East Pinnacle - Photo by Michael Startzman

East Pinnacle - Photo by Michael Startzman

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East Pinnacle

The sunrise from East Pinnacle, as the first rays of light stretch across the valley and mist creeps into hollows and across farms is not to be missed: casting brilliant hues of red, orange, blue and green as far as the eye can see.

The view east encompasses the last little bits of Berea and looks toward Estill and Jackson County.  The easy hike to East Pinnacle from the trailhead is about 1.1 miles. 

West Pinnacle

The hike to West Pinnacle is longer than the hike East but it's also not as steep.  From the Indian Fort Trailhead, follow the path to the left at the first split. This trail starts with a flat, easy path known as the Sacred Shadow Trail.  Upon approaching the West Pinnacle, the trail will become a bit more rocky.  West Pinnacle overlooks more forested land with Berea's protected watershed visible in the distance.  Hikers will have to climb the West Pinnacle rocks to take in the view.   One rock is an easy climb while the other rock is higher and slightly more adventurous.

 
 Sunset from Indian Fort Lookout | photo by Michael Startzman

Sunset from Indian Fort Lookout | photo by Michael Startzman

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Indian Fort Lookout

A beautiful panorama of the Bluegrass with breathtaking views looking onto Berea, Richmond, and even Lexington.  

Indian Fort Lookout is the shortest hike if you follow the central trail at the first split from the trailhead.  The central trail is steep but offers resting points as you make the climb. Upon reaching the top of the trail, there will be a left, right, and central trail.  Stay with the central trail to continue the hike to Indian Fort Lookout.  In a few feet, you will reach a cliff with options to the left and right.  Right will lead to a downhill climb into Devil's Kitchen. Follow the left trail along the cliff line to the Lookout.  Keep your eye out for the grate looking into Devil's Kitchen along this trail!

 
 Photo by Michael Startzman

Photo by Michael Startzman

 Photo by Michael Startzman

Photo by Michael Startzman

Devil's Kitchen

The descent into Devil's Kitchen can be steep in places but the honeycombed rocks, vegetation, and the Kitchen itself - a cavernous overhang - make the brief journey well worth the effort.  It is said, when Thomas Walker arrived in Kentucky, the Shawnee welcomed Walker and introduced him to the mountain. Cooking fires were in use in the caves, filling the valley and trail above with smoke. Walker dubbed the area The Devil's Kitchen and the name remains to this day.

 

Eagle's Nest + Buzzard's Roost

The longest of the direct hikes, the trail to these two lookouts will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of the Berea College Forest.  The trail winds along the top of the ridge making these mostly flat hikes relatively easy.  

From the Indian Fort Trailhead, at the first split, take the central trail up the steep incline.  Upon reaching the top, follow the trail to the right until you reach Robe Mountain Trail leading to the left.  Follow the Robe Mt. Trail until you reach a left and right split.  Left is a longer trail leading to Buzzard's Roost and the right trail will lead to the rocky Eagle's Nest.  Both lookouts offer beautiful, expansive views and Eagle's Nest is topped with small rocks - perfect for a lunch break.

  Photo from Buzzard's Roost by  Michael Startzman

Photo from Buzzard's Roost by Michael Startzman

 

Details

Please help keep Berea beautiful and pack out what you bring in.  The trail system is open to the public year-round. Please be considerate of other users and observe the following rules:

  • The area is open for use during daylight hours only. The parking lot is closed at night.
  • Visitors are welcome on trails only. No short cuts, please.
  • Plants, animals, rocks, and archeological artifacts are to be left alone.
  • NO motor vehicles, horses, or bicycles are permitted on the trails. Foot travel only!
  • NO fires, smoking, drugs, alcohol, hunting, firearms, or camping.
  • Pets must be kept on a leash.
  • NO trash. If you pack it in, then you must pack it out!
  • The trails may be closed during extreme forest fire danger. Portions of the trails may be closed temporarily for maintenance or forest management. Areas of the Berea College Forest not served by the trail system are closed to the public.