Rock Creek Research Natural Area
Rock Creek Research Natural Area (RNA) is a 1,062 acre research natural area in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Laurel County containing 190 acres of old-growth, primarily mixed mesophytic forest, restricted to the gorge. It was designated an RNA in 1939 and a National Natural Landmark in 1975. There is no trail access, and descending below the cliffline can be difficult, with only a few feasible access points.
The forest contains significant old-growth, though shows signs of very limited past harvest from about 1915-1917, primarily near the confluence of Rock Creek and the Rockcastle River. Several studies of Rock Creek RNA describe in detail the flora and ecology and this old-growth forest.
Studies (linked where available):
Thompson, R.L., R.L. Jones, J.R. Abbott, and W.N. Denton. 2000. Botanical survey of Rock Creek Research Natural Area, Kentucky. General Technical Report NE-272.
Thompson, R.L. and R.L. Jones. 2001. Woody plants of Rock Creek Research Natural Area and watershed uplands, Laurel County, Kentucky. Castanea 66(3): 275-287.
Tackett, K.L. 2012. Forest dynamics of two multi-aged hemlock-mixed mesophytic forests in the northern Cumberland Plateau, Kentucky. Master’s Thesis, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky.