Cane Branch and Helton Branch in McCreary County, Kentucky, are about 1.4 miles apart (fig. 1). Can Branch, which is about 2.1 miles long, emptied into Hughes Fork of Beaver Creek. Its watershed area of about 1.5 square miles lies largely in the Wiborf 7 1/2-minute quadrangle (SW/4 Cumberland Falls 15-minute quadrangle), but the downstream part of the area extends northward into the Hail 7 1/2-minute quadrangle (NW/4 Cumberland Falls 15-minute quadrangle). Helton Branch, which is about 1.1 miles long, has two tributaries and empties into Little Hurricane Fork of Beaver Creek. It drains an area of about 0.8 square mile of while about 0.5 square mile is in the Hail quadrangle and the remainder in the Wilborg quadrangle. The total relief in the Can Branch area is about 500 feet and in the Helton Branch area about 400 feet. Narrow, steep-sided to canyon-like valley and winding ridges, typical of the Pottsville escarpment region, are characteristic of both areas. Thick woods and dense undergrowth cover much of the two areas.
Field mapping was done on U.S. Geological Survey 7 1/2-minute maps having a scale of 1:24,000 and a contour interval of 20 feet. Elevations of lithologic contacts were determined with a barometer and a hand level. Aerial photographs were used principally to trace the cliffs formed by sandstone and conglomerate ledges. Exposures, except for those of the cliff- and ledge-forming sandstone and conglomerates, are not abundant. The most complete stratigraphic sections (secs. 3 and 4, fig. 2) in the two areas are exposed in cuts of newly completed Forest Service roads, but the rick in the upper parts of the exposures is weathered. To supplement these sections, additional sections were measured in cuts along the railroad and main highways in nor near the watersheds.