Bernheim Forest

The Bernheim Arboretum is the living legacy of visionary and philanthropist Isaac W. Bernheim. Isaac W. Bernheim was born in Schmieheim (Germany) on November 4, 1848. He immigrated to the United States at the age 18 with just $4. After struggling for many years to make his living as a peddler, in New York, Eastern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey for several decades, Isaac W. Bernheim moved to Kentucky to start a distilling company.

He was a great success with his Bernheim Brothers Distilling Company, and his popular brand I. W. Harper Bourbon. He was grateful to Kentucky for giving him the chance to succeed and made many contributions to the community. He gave many gifts to the community, including the statues of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson at the Louisville Free Public Library. Ephraim McDowell and Henry Clay were also donated by him.


They are located in the Statuary Hall of the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., which represents Kentucky. Bernheim Forest now covers more than 16,000 acres. It was established by Mr. Bernheim in 1929. This land was his gift to his new country. Bernheim wanted to create a space that would allow people to renew and restore their connection with nature. He envisioned a combination of an arboretum with natural forested areas, infused with the arts to create a unique place to experience nature. It was difficult to make his dream a reality.


The land was almost devoid of trees and had been extensively abused in the past. Workers prepared the land between 1929 and 1950 to fulfill its donor's wishes. Today, Bernheim is home to a 600-acre arboretum that is nationally renowned. It boasts over 8,000 varieties, including many of the Hubbuch Holly Collection, which has over 300 specimens.


The Frederick Law Olmsted, a Brookline, Massachusetts firm, began to work on a major landscape plan for the arboretum in 1931. The original landscape design was adopted by the Board of Trustees, in 1935. Workers built three small lakes and a road through an arboretum following the Olmsted plan before any collections were planted. The entrance road led from State Highway 245 to the fire tower. It was a distance about 3.1 miles. It was originally made of dirt and was then paved in 1948 to allow the public to use it. Bernheim's roads stretch eleven miles. In 1939, the Olmsted Ponds (formerly Cedar & Holly ponds) and Mac's Lake were both created.

Bernheim Forest now receives over 500,000 visitors each year from across the U.S.

Lake Nevin is a 32-acre fishing area that was located near the main entrance. It was imounded in 1949. The lake was named after Hugh L. Nevin who served as President of the Board of Trustees for many decades. Bernheim was opened to the public on July 5, 1950. Bernheim Forest celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2019. Bernheim Forest now receives over 500,000 visitors each year from across the U.S.


If you are looking for a group-friendly dining restaurant near you, check out El Maguey Mexican Restaurant in Brooks, Ky, just 16 minutes dow the road from Bernheim


Looking for more things to do near Brooks Ky, Click here