With the eastern third of the state dominated by the Appalachian foothills and Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky is a dreamland for hikers and campers. The state is also home to one of the best state park systems in the country, with each park boasting a network of hiking trails. However, many of the trails at these parks are little more than afterthoughts, especially at the lakeside parks.
This is the closest of the parks with good trails to Lexington. The original trail is the one leading up to Natural Bridge itself, a natural sandstone arch spanning almost 80 feet. The 3/4-mile trail climbing up is moderately strenuous, so the unfit can enjoy the Bridge by taking a ski lift to the top and walking down. This trail sits at the center of a network of other trails that range between a half mile to 2 miles, so an entire day of walking can be stitched together.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park
2135 Natural Bridge Road
Slade, KY 40376-9701
Tel: (606) 663-2214
Cumberland Falls is home to Kentucky's premier waterfalls (125 feet wide and almost 70 feet high), and has what are probably the best tent-friendly campgrounds of any of the state parks. It is also home of the state's most demanding trail network. Blue Bend Loop and the Cumberland River Trail are both roughly five miles long. The Cumberland River Trail can be extended onto a separate trail outside the park to the Laurel River for a total of eight miles. There is also the Moonbow Trail, which is a spur of the Sheltowee National Trail that runs for 10 1/2 miles from the park. There is also a network of smaller 1/4- to 1.5-mile trails. A side-note for the curious is that Corbin is the original home of Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
7351 Highway 90
Corbin, KY 40701-8857
Tel: (606) 528-4121
Like Natural Bridge, Pine Mountain offers a network of trails that can be stitched together into as long of a day hike as is desired. The individual trails range between 1/4 and 1 3/4 miles, with some being spurs that can only be accessed from deep in the woods on another trail. Highlights include the famous Chained Rock, which is ominously perched above Pineville and anchored by an enormous chain, the 25 foot Honeymoon Falls and Timber Ridge, which is especially beautiful when the autumn colors come in.
Pine Mountain State Resort Park
1050 State Park Road
Pineville, KY 40977-0610
Tel: (606) 337-3066
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.