SUMMARY: Natural Bridge is technically NOT in the Red River Gorge Geological Area, but rather in the Natural Bridge State Resort Park. However, it is probably the best known site in the area, and many people mistakenly think it is actually part of the Red River Gorge Geological Area. Because of Natural Bridge’s location in the state park special rules apply in this area such as the strict restrictions on pets, off trail hiking and climbing. There are approximately 7 different trails plus a Skylift to reach the top of Natural Bridge. This route is one of the longer and less popular routes. If you are looking for a quieter, less travelled approach to Natural Bridge, this is a great choice.
RATING: Moderate hike (approximately 5.0 miles total.)
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO HIKE: Early spring when flowers are blooming or autumn when you can catch the fall colors. The USDA Forest Office is located in Winchester, Kentucky about an hour from Red River Gorge. For up to date information either stop in the Ranger District Office, visit their website or telephone: (859) 745-3100. Hemlock Lodge in the Natural Bridge State Resort Park has information on the state park and complimentary trail maps and guides for Natural Bridge.
AMOUNT OF TIME NEEDED: Allow a full day (3-6 hours) to enjoy this hike.
DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD:
- From rest area at exit #33 off of the Mountain State Parkway Turn right onto KY-11, and go to the entrance to Natural Bridge State Resort Park (2.4 miles)
- Turn Right into Natural Bridge State Resort Park and follow signs to the Skylift (0.2 miles)
- Park in Skylift parking area.
- From the Skylift Parking Area, follow Trail #6 Hood’s Branch Trail (behind mini golf) to top of Natural Bridge (3.5 miles)
- Cross over Natural Bridge and enjoy this spectacular site.
- Consider a detour out and back trail #9 Laurel Ridge Trail to Lookout Point and Lover’s Leap.
- Return to Natural Bridge, cross back and find trail #4 Rock Garden Trail descending on the right side of Natural Bridge.
- Descend down the staircase to get below Natural Bridge and pass through Fat Man’s Squeeze arriving below Natural Bridge.
- Follow trail #4 Rock Garden Trail to the intersection with trail #10 Low Gap Trail.
- Turn left on trail #10 Low Gap Trail and Follow trail #10 Low Gap Trail to the Skylift parking area.
- Arrive at the Skylift parking area.