This is one of Central Kentucky’s most breathtakingly beautiful views, and it also happens to be one of the most visited state park landmarks in this area.
For my friends that don’t automatically recognize where I am from this view, let me introduce you. This is the view from the top of Natural Bridge, which is located near rock-climbing haven of Red River Gorge, and it is looking towards Lookout Point and the vast Daniel Boone National Forest.
The hike to the “bridge” part of Natural Bridge is fairly short (less than a mile) and is a great hiking choice if you have little ones in tow. Your little ones will need to be able to walk (mostly) on their own or put them in a hiking pack; the hike is not stroller accessible.
Veronica and Warren loved taking their time during the climb up and exploring every little piece of nature they could find. It’s partly who they are, and partly because this was their first outdoorsy outing of the season. Mother Nature has been teasing us with a few warm days, and we were very lucky that this particular warm day coincided with a Saturday.
The was a little snow left on the trails and Veronica loved taking a few quiet moments to take it all in. Daniel and Warren were off looking for the old cave (which was boarded up, keep reading for pictures), while V and I stayed on the main trail up to Natural Bridge.
The part of the trail right before you head up to the “bridge” is one of the kiddos favorite part of the hike…walking between the walls. Since the snow from the previous week had just melted a few days before, it was a muddy, squishy mess, but all the more fun for the kids.
Note the difference between a girl and a boy…my daughter is planning her steps and trying to avoid the mud puddles as best she can, while my son is doing his best to hit the middle of every puddle. If his mother had not been so close and dared him to splash the mud, I’m sure he would have!
I wish I had taken more pictures once we were on top of Natural Bridge, but I have to say I was slightly freaking out as a mom…okay, maybe a bit more than slightly (but I kept it contained…for the most part). There are no railings to keep anyone from falling off, and my children have a habit of not watching where they are going when they’re distracted. I was a NERVOUS wreck and really only enjoyed the view when my two children were sitting on their bottoms. If they made any indication of standing up, my anxiety levels spiked.
We are about two feet from the edge here, but it was a perfect little spot to sit down and enjoy the fruit that Daniel had packed for a snack. He also knew that Veronica would love the binoculars.
This is the only picture I took of us crossing the 78 ft Natural Bridge arch. It’s not that wide across as you can see, and is 65 ft above the trail below. We spent most of the time “on” the bridge making both kids hold our hand and reminded them to watch were they were going! Probably not fun for them, but thankfully, the rest of the hike was less worrisome as parents!
We tried to head over to Lookout Point (the lookout cliff in the top/first picture) via the Laurel Ridge Trail, which is just short of a mile and starts from the top of Natural Bridge; however, we were about a quarter of the way into the trail when we encountered mud up to our ankles and no way around it. So we turned back toward Natural Bridge and crossed back over. Since we had taken the Original Trail up, we decided to take the Balanced Rock Trail down.
This trail was less crowded than the main one, and provided lots of fun things for the kids to climb and explore. It is the steepest of the trails, and I was surprised when we passed a runner on these icy, snowy, wet, slippery steps! I was quite impressed with his trail running as we all stepped aside and let him pass!
The are two main highlights on this particular trail, the first being Balanced Rock, from which the trail takes it’s name from:
And the second interesting landmark was the boarded up “pass cave” that would lead you to the Original Trail if you could “pass” through it. I’m not sure why it is boarded up now. The kids were convinced they boarded it up because there is a bear living in the cave…I thought they were just being silly until I noticed the signs at the trail head reminding people not to feed the black bears! I still have not seen a bear in Kentucky, but supposedly they are back (just probably not living in the “pass cave” at Natural Bridge).
Definitely a fun way to spend a beautiful spring-like Saturday afternoon in Kentucky! We are looking forward to many more days just like this one as the days get warmer and longer! It wasn’t until the end when Dan took off his jacket that I noticed that he and V work their Disney shirts and I just had to get this picture–too cute!
If you’re ever in the area and looking for a great place to hike, then check out Natural Bridge. I hear that Hemlock Lodge is a great place to stay when you’re exploring these trails. Though I have to admit, I’ve never stayed there because this area is less than an hour from our house–maybe one day Dan and I will check it out.
What great hiking trails should we check out when we visit your area of the world? Would love to hear from you!