Category Archives: Kentucky Hiking

Mammoth Cave National Park

Our last stop for spring break was Mammoth Cave National Park. I thought this would be something my son would really enjoy. As I looked over their website it showed beginner spelunking classes for kids and a great tour of the old portion of the cave. Unfortunately tickets weren’t yet available for spring so I was patient.

Once tickets were released the spelunking for kids wasn’t available. My son was pretty bummed but still wanted to go. Unfortunately, many of the tours were already sold out. I grabbed tickets for the one tour that was available and figured we’d hike through the park afterwards.

When we arrived I saw that the tour I originally wanted was available. My son didn’t seem interested in taking two tours so we stuck with the one we had. Our drive was pretty short from our hotel so we stopped at a pond to kill some time. It had a nice little walk around the perimeter. I heard so many wonderful birds but they all seemed to be camouflaged in the trees. It sounded so nice though. As we walked we spotted a few birds, frogs (which made us jump as they got skittish and jumped into the water), a slug, and butterflies. I could have spent a longer time there but we had to head back to the Visitor’s Center for the tour.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Ribbit

We sat and waited for the busses to arrive. At the last moment, I realized I had forgotten my inhaler. The Park Ranger made a big deal about breathing issues and I didn’t want to take a chance. So I sprinted back to my car to grab it so I had peace of mind. As it turns out, my breathing was perfect within the cave.  When we arrived to the cave entrance we followed the long line to enter. One thing about me: I have arachnophobia. Bad. Just above the doorway there were large spiders. Like daddy long legs on crack. I’m so glad no one saw me gather up my courage to walk through that doorway. I waited until my son was inside the cave a bit and then walked quickly not caring that I was holding up the line. I noticed more of those ugly critters along the side of the cave as well. I just kept repeating, “They don’t care about me. They don’t care that I’m here.” Thankfully they ceased to exist a bit further into the cave.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Heading into the cave

I live quite close to Luray Caverns in Virginia. I think they are beautiful and was excited to see how Mammoth Cave compared. The first portion of the tour was rather boring. No offense to Mammoth Cave but it was just a cave in that area. Sure, in parts it was massive and it was cool to look deep down into holes but I guess I was excited to see stalagmites and stalactites. I also thought there was too much talking. I know the Park Ranger wants to educate people and visitors had questions but I feel like most of that information is easily found on the Internet. The 2 hour tour was really just about 45 mins of cave and 1.25 hours of waiting, walking and talking.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Layers of rock along the tour

Eventually we made it to a waterfall and Frozen Niagara.  Finally, my interest was peaked. This is when the tour started to pick up and there was a lot to see. My photos won’t win any awards (well, none of my photos will but these especially) but I did my best with shooting in the dark cave. The last portion of the tour was the best portion. I wanted to walk slower and really see everything but it is difficult when the passage way is narrow and there is a long line of people behind you.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Frozen Niagara

Overall, Mammoth Cave was fine. I would have preferred the other tour but my son wasn’t that interested. He enjoyed what he saw but I guess there’s only so much you can see in a cave before it all starts to look the same (to an 11 year old).  We perused the gift shop and I picked out something small for my favorite person (shhhh. It’s a surprise. He doesn’t know yet.) I looked at the trails and found one that I thought was short and went to a creek. We drove to it and started on the trail. Unfortunately, it was also a horse trail so we had to be careful. Finally, a horse and owner came upon us and after hearing that the creek was another mile, my son bailed. I guess the previous 5 days of hiking had worn him out. So we turned around and headed back to the hotel.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Dry Prong Buffalo Creek Trail

I’d definitely recommend going to Mammoth Cave. It has 450 miles of trails throughout. I think I’d probably say attempt to go on the tour that goes through the original entrance (the one I wanted but didn’t get). I think that sounds more interesting. However, make time to visit Virginia and Luray Caverns because they are top notch!

More photos:
Mammoth Cave National Park

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Daniel Boone National Forest & Cumberland Falls, Kentucky

One of our days during spring break was spent in Daniel Boone National Forest and at Cumberland Falls. I had read about a trail that I think is called Bark Camp Creek Trail. Because I’m always looking to photograph waterfalls I was excited to hike this trail. It didn’t seem very long and being in a National Forest is always special. My son and I found the trail and once again on our spring break hiking adventure the scenery didn’t disappoint. There were huge rock formations, green moss on everything, and a pretty creek to follow.  Our goal was to make it to the cascades I had read about online.

My son complained a little bit with the elevation but it was minimal. The hike was fun and offered us rock hoping, creek wading, and a great waterfall.  This waterfall had a huge portion of rock that had been carved out by water behind it. We had so much fun taking photos and climbing around behind the waterfall. I truly don’t think my photos do it justice.  As I was taking photos the sky started to get very dark. I knew it was supposed to rain that day and I was worried about getting caught in a storm. There was absolutely no one else on the trail (or even close to us I don’t think). And with the wind picking up, we decided to go back to the car. Of course, once we reached there the sun came back out. I was a little annoyed because I really wanted to photograph the cascades. Alas, it will be for another day.

We still had a good amount of time in our day so we hopped over to Cumberland Falls. It was only a 15 min drive from where we were so it made sense. I can’t remember if I saw these as a kid. I don’t think I did because my parents didn’t say anything when they saw the photos.  They are impressive to say the least. And with the sun going behind the clouds I was able to get some really special photos. We took them from all angles and my son started to get interested in taking some too. The best part was because it was a Tuesday and not everyone’s spring break we had the place almost to ourselves. A few people milled around but mostly we had the opportunity to take photos anywhere. I saw people across the river on a trail that was a bit higher. I would have loved to get up there for photos but I could tell my son was tired. We did have a plan to come to the falls for the Moonbow. It is a phenomenon that happens during a full moon. I guess the light from the moon cause a rainbow to appear over the falls. With the rain moving in that wasn’t going to be possible. Plus, it turns out the falls were 2 hours from our hotel so I wasn’t too upset by that.

I know that Daniel Boone offers a ton more for me to see. As with most things, I wish I could spend a whole week exploring and hiking. I guess I may have to take the plunge into backpacking so I can stay overnight. I’m not so sure I would have wanted to camp on the Bark Camp Creek trail only because it was so far removed and I didn’t have cell service but maybe one day with the right person.

Kingdom Come State Park, Kentucky

Kingdom Come State Park, Kentucky

One of our stops on our Spring Break Hiking Adventure was Kingdom Come State Park in Kentucky.  Because we couldn’t complete our original Sand Cave hike I decided to stop at this park since it was on the way to Pine Mountain.  And may I just say, “Thanks, Waze, for the beautiful back roads that did not lead me to the park.”  The drive was so interesting and cool.  All the roads were along a stream and beside mountains. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful drive – except for one that lead me to the park.  Thankfully I had just enough of a signal to use a different GPS system that got me to the park. Kingdom Come isn’t a huge park but it is really pretty.  I guess I have said that about every place I visited on spring break but it is true. We took Little Shepherd Trail to enter the park. This is a very narrow and winding road. While I drove we passed some adventure racers. One of the women who went on the Elk Tour with us had a daughter who was competing in this race so I knew what they were doing. I certainly didn’t envy their climb up this road on a bike. Many were walking and I didn’t look down on them for it. The park begins at the top of the road. There is a beautiful overlook and unfortunately my photos were pretty awful. I guess I felt rushed. I had looked up possible small hikes before arriving and found Log Rock. It was a short hike a rock formation that looks like a log.  My son, at first, complained that we had to do more elevation but it was so short he finally decided to suck it up.  We made it to Log Rock only to find that we could have driven there.

Log Rock is a very cool rock formation indeed. It really does look like a fallen tree. Of course we both had to climb up and walk over it.  I’m not one to be afraid of heights but walking across things is a different story.  I made it without my legs buckling.  After climbing around we walked past the rocks over to the side of the mountain. There was a rocky side where you could climb down the rocks a bit and sit. My adventurous boy wanted to go much further down but the mother in me said no. But we sat for a bit and took in the valley below. I’m not sure what was happening that day with my photos but they aren’t great but I posted one regardless.

 

We walked back to the car and drove around the park a little more. We came to a small pond/lake which my son wanted to explore. He thought it was so cool to see some sort of lizard in the water. I’m not sure what kind it was because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lizard beneath the water. After we rested for a bit we got back on the road to head to Pine Mountain State Park.

Pine Mountain State Resort Park

Our spring break trip continued into Kentucky and to Pine Mountain State Resort Park (from here forth known as PMSRP).  We had one stop at Kingdom Come State Park before reaching this park but I will write about that once I have photos uploaded.

Driving through Kentucky was pretty remarkable. I have been to Kentucky before but I was much younger and don’t remember much. The backroads all seemed to follow a beautiful mountain stream and wind through little towns. I would have never reached any destination if I had stopped to take photos every time I saw something beautiful.

PMSRP looks like a very fun place. We only stayed one night but while there we played putt putt golf and hiked to Honeymoon Falls. The lodge was very beautiful and the room we had was cozy. I will say that the walls at this lodge are thin. I did not sleep well at this place as someone had a baby who was up often during the night and I was able to hear the crying. Other than that, really nice place.  The food at the restaurant was good as well.

Our hike took us to Honeymoon Falls. The trail is very easy and round trip is approximately 3 miles. If you’d like all the minute details you can see my write-up on TheOutbound (in face you should sign-up for the site because it is fantastic – check out my adventures.  My son and I had a blast on this trail. There was a really pretty creek to follow, rocks to jump, rocks to climb, logs to cross and, finally, a pretty waterfall.

One of the coolest things we experienced as very cool air coming out of a cave. The opening was very low to the ground. It would have taken a brave soul to try and crawl into it. I imagine it goes deep and connects with the creek which is what provided the cool air. We were warm so it felt really great.  The trail was enveloped by rhododendrons and the rocks were green with moss. Everything was so pretty. We spent some time exploring the rock opening around Honeymoon Falls before heading back to the lodge.

Pine Mountain State Resort Park

Air Conditioned Rock

Pine Mountain State Resort Park

Honeymoon Falls – 25 Foot Drop

We rested, showered, ate dinner and then headed to Chained Rock. That was the suggestion from the front desk for sunset viewing. The overlook is about a 3 mile drive from the lodge. Apparently there is also a trail that takes you to see the actual chained rock. There are differing stories about why the rock is chained. Some say to keep the rocks from crashing down on Pineville and others say it was just a publicity stunt.  At the time, I didn’t know there was an actual chain (I think that would have been helpful knowledge from the front desk) or I would have hiked to it. Instead, we hung out and saw a decent sunset. The overlook down into Pineville is also quite outstanding.

We only stayed one night at this park as we had places to go the next day. I would highly recommend it though. Kentucky doesn’t charge for entry into their state parks and so it makes it all the easier to go and experience them.