Tebb’s Bend Nature Area
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Note: All photos this page credit R. Doty unless indicated otherwise.
Hike #1: Cave Spring Trail to Beaver Pond/Toll House
Trailhead: Homeplace on Green River (Across from the Tate-Sublett House)
Approximate Distance: Cave Spring to Toll House ~ .8 mile; Loop ~1.25 miles
Best Times to Hike: Winter for best views of wetland, Spring for wildlife and wildflowers and Fall for drier and cooler conditions and pretty Fall colors.
Precautions: This described hike DOES NOT always follow published maps. Rather, it represents the path taken/preferred by the author. Sections of this hike include short hill climbs and descent and other hazards like roots, rocks, etc. Some portions may be wet or muddy. Most suitable for adults or families with older children. Not recommended for children under 10.
From the Homeplace on Green trailhead (see map) stop at the overlook. Below is the primary source of water for the Blue Heron Wetland. Springs emerge from the Cave Spring site which is home to numerous cave fauna and aquatic invertebrates. As you continue along the Cave Spring trail you may opt to take a right fork which leads to the scenic stream and cave entrance. Otherwise, continue along the trail near the field edge until it reenters the wooded ridgeline as Beaver Pond Trail. Here you can view the mature second-growth timber of the Cave Spring valley—watch for deer, raccoons or other wildlife at the creek and this strangely-formed tree.
The trail winds down and to the left. Watch for the spiny Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)and past a particularly large sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum). Partially obstructed views of the Blue Heron Wetland can also be seen at this point.
As you approach the back edge of the wetland you are skirting the historic Green River floodplain and a past Kentucky state record red or slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) seen below.
As you leave the slippery elm, the trail may become a bit sloppy because you are approaching Beaver Pond. The wary or lucky hiker might sneak up on wood ducks, mallards, basking turtles or even a beaver here!
Follow a narrow, somewhat overgrown trail around the pond and parallel to a small drainage basin. Watch for the trail to bear right where it will cross the head of a spring system (below). Take a break here at the cool springs and rock-hop across where the trail will lead you into a field just downslope of the old iron bridge and the Toll House.
Arrange a pick up at the Toll House or continue your hike along the red line Beaver Trail which will lead thru a field of native grasses with numerous songbirds and small mammals like rabbits.
Leave the trail and pick up the gravel Homeplace Road Road. Along the gravel road you will encounter an observation deck that provides stunning views of native grasses and the winding river valley in front of you (see below). Watch for soaring red-tailed hawks, bald eagles and low-gliding harriers over the field. The gravel road will take you back to the Homeplace central and the Homeplace on Green River Trailhead.
Hike #2: Toll House Visitor Center to Green River and Blue Heron Wetland (also shown on Alltrails.com as 25th Michigan Infantry and Morgan’s Men Trail: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/kentucky/25th-michigan-and-morgans-men-trail)
Trailhead: Tebbs Bend Tollhouse on Tebbs Bend Road
Approximate Distance: ~ 1.0- 1.5 miles out and back depending on stopping point.
Best Times to Hike: Any time other than mid-summer.
Precautions: Moderate hill climb on return, wet conditions along wetland. Otherwise, an easy hike suitable for the entire family.
This hike begins at the Toll House parking lot. Consider visiting displays there if open or having a picnic lunch under the pavilion. Leave the trailhead and hike over the historic Green River iron bridge.
Continue downslope along the meandering trail. Stop for a view of the Beaver Pond.
Soon the trail will enter the Green River Floodplain. Continue straight along the path towards the Green River past a 2002 bottomland hardwood restoration. As you near the river look for a small trail through the riparian vegetation leading to the river’s edge—a small gravel bar evident during low water is most like the site of the Tate-Sublett Landing (see photo at top). This is a good location for river and bridge photos.
Return along your path and walk along the levee of the Blue Heron Wetland. This is a scenic and wildlife-rich environment most any time of the year. Watch for wading birds, ducks, dragonflies or small mammals like beaver or muskrats- see various wetland photos below. Return up the hill to the iron bridge and Toll House.