September 6, 2013

My Old Kentucky Hikes - Part One

While on a recent road trip with my husband, I had the good fortune to explore two of the “Seven Wonders of the South” according to Southern Living magazine, both located in the beautiful state of Kentucky. They just happen to have hiking trails which obviously piqued my interest right away. What’s a road trip without a hike?

Today's post is on the Red River Gorge. The second will feature Cumberland Falls near Corbin, Kentucky. If you're interested in all "Seven Wonders of the South, here is the Southern Living article.

The Red River Gorge, located about 50 miles southeast of Lexington, is the South’s answer to Utah’s Arches National Park.  The gorge has 100-plus natural sandstone arches, the highest concentration east of the Mississippi. Natural Bridge State Resort, one of Kentucky's most popular state parks, is in the Red River Gorge, and I was lucky enough to talk my husband (affectionately referred to as The Big Guy) into hiking to the Natural Bridge even though he would have preferred to stop at Bojangle's. We hiked the 0.75-mile Original Trail which is easily the most heavily used trail in the state of Kentucky.

According to the park brochure, the Original Trail is the shortest and easiest route to the Natural Bridge, an easy choice for The Big Guy.
The wide, easy path makes for an enjoyable hike, but it's just steep enough to get your heart pumping a bit faster. 
In case your heart gets pumping too fast, there are three small shelters along the trail, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's.  The shelters offer a nice rest and water stop.

At half a mile, the trail comes upon the soaring sandstone of Natural Bridge.  The best place to view is underneath.

This stairway takes you to the top of the bridge, but before arriving at the top, you must walk through the narrow notch known as Fat Man's Misery.

I made it fine through Fat Man's Misery thanks to hiking and dieting.  The Big Guy got through alright, but when he popped out the other side, a small boy told him, "They should make this bigger for fat people." This remark caused The Big Guy to forego any thoughts of sausage biscuits, at least for the rest of the hike.

After making it to the top of the bridge, we decided to continue another 0.4 mile to Lookout Point which offered a nice view of the Natural Bridge. 

Lookout Point also offered a beautiful view of the Middle Fork of the Red River. Now you know how the gorge got its name. 

The rocky ledge in the background, just over my left shoulder, is known as Lover's Leap.  Fortunately, I decided to call it a day so The Big Guy wouldn't get any ideas. 

Both the road trip and hiking excursion were successful, and in case you're wondering if I plan to go back and hike, here's proof: my only purchase at the gift shop of Natural Bridge State Resort.  Here is more information on the resort. 

As the lyrics say, "The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky hike..." Hope you've enjoyed this post and you'll come back for Part Two of My Old Kentucky Hikes.

Keep on Hiking!


  1. I would like to lobby for "The Big Guy"'s name to be changed to "The Lucky Guy", not only does he get to come on some these incredible hikes, he's married to you! :)

    -Tim Goodwin

    1. Gee thanks, Tim, for the comments. Actually, The Big Guy, who is my greatest cheerleader, came up with his name. I'll be sure to pass along the suggestion to The Big Guy and will seriously consider a name change!