233 acres in Ross County
Outstanding Vertical Walled Gorge. Lewis Gorge is a 233-acre parcel containing a spectacular one half mile long vertical-sided gorge flowing into an exceptionally scenic tributary of Paint Creek known as Cliff Run. Lewis Gorge is located just north and east of Paint Creek Dam off of Rapid Forge Road, just north of the historic Sanctuary lands that center around Cave Road and the Rocky Fork Gorge. We are delighted to have been able to incorporate Lewis Gorge into the embrace of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary.
Expanding Across US 50. The Arc of Appalachia just recently completed fundraising for the acquisition and stewardship of Lewis Gorge. This is only the second time in over twenty years that the Sanctuary has purchased lands north of US 50. and the first property procured containing a significant tributary of Paint Creek other than the Rocky Fork Gorge, thereby achieving one of the Arc’s long-held goals to expand and connect traditional Sanctuary lands with Paint Creek. The first purchase, by the way, was of TES Farm across from Kamelands.
Wildflower Paradise. Lewis Gorge has been in the private hands of the Lewis family for generations. The floral showcases in Lewis Gorge are dazzling, with many species of flowers hanging from the 40-50 foot cliffs that border a limestone-bottom creek. Learn more about the natural history of Lewis Gorge. Lewis Family Gorge has become a treasured destination during our annual Wildflower Pilgrimage.
Protecting the Watershed. A large portion of the gorge’s upper watershed was included in this purchase, enabling the water quality of the gorge waters to stay pristine forever. Two thirds of the Lewis tracts is covered oak hickory forest and 1/3 is composed of rolling farm pastures and active arm fields. The pasturelands have not been active for years and are already well-canopied with succession hardwoods. The agricultural fields will be planted in native prairie grasses and forbs.
Room to Grow. Notably, contiguous and near to the property are several 400-acre forested tracts – unusually large tracts for this region – that provide large blocks of unbroken lands. Continued preserve growth in this botanically significant and incredibly scenic region holds much promise.