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Kentucky: a road trip through the state - Part 52 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

The park and forest has become a magnet for rock climbers, who flock to the jagged faces and broken pinnacles around the Red River Gorge area. It is also popular with hikers because it has around 600 miles of trails to explore. This includes the famous 300 mile long Sheltownee Trace Trail which goes between Cave Run Lake and Pickett State Park in Tennessee. There are some places of wilderness along this trail which have remained untouched since the days when Boone first laid eyes on them 250 years ago. At that time tribes of Indians still roamed around the forest and you could easily come across Shawnee, Cherokee and Chickasaw who all lived in this area.

Natural Bridge State Resort Park is home to the great natural sandstone arch that stands like a guardian over the mountainous forest. It is located in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest, near the Red River Gorge Geological Area. Natural Bridge Park is a 2, 200 acre forested park and nature preserve with 22 miles of trails, a 60 acre lake, two campgrounds, lodging, and dining facilities. It is surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest and adjacent to the Red River Gorge National Geologic Area.

If you want to make the most of your trip to the Red River Gorge area you could stay in one of the Natural Bridge Park cabin rentals or for a special treat in the mountainside Hemlock Lodge. The 35 rooms of the Hemlock Lodge have private balconies with great views and it is also open all year round, which is a big plus in this type of area. Like most places the rooms are only available by late afternoon with a check out by 11:00am next morning.

The sandstone arch which gives Natural Bridge Park its name took millions of years to form. The park is located near Slade in eastern Kentucky and can be found just off the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway. The park has some unique geological formations and breath taking views.

Some of these formations are easy to reach, such as the park’s most famous landmark which is the arch known as Natural Bridge. The arch spans just over78 feet in length and is 65 feet in height. The walk at the top of this arch offers some truly spectacular and panoramic views over the forest below. You can of course hike all the way from the parking area to the top of the bridge. However for those of you who prefer to take thing a little easier than the best option will be the Sky Lift.

The Sky Lift offers a more relaxing way to climb up to the natural bridge. The start of the ascent begins half a mile from the park entrance and ends within 600 feet of the Natural Bridge. Anyone who has ever been on an alpine chair lift will feel at home here. The Sky Lift opens the first weekend of April and closes on the last weekend in October.

There are many other interesting geological feature in this forest but they are much harder to find as they are more hidden in the depths and masked by tangled creepers and old trees. However they are still worth the effort if you are fit enough.

The next park on our trip continues in part 53

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