Split Bow Arch, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

I like to be surprised. For example, I don’t often seek out images when I’m looking up trail descriptions, relying on the general consensus of the reviewers (or advice of the rangers or people I meet) as well as the total distance of the hike in order to help me determine what trails I take. For the same reason I also avoid stopping at overlooks near the trailhead until I’ve seen the actual destination. But, after driving about ten miles down a dirt road I still had not seen any signs for the Split Bow Arch Trail so I decided to stop at the marked overlook to see if there was a trail map posted. There was not. Fortunately, I was able to determine from the overlook which direction the trail would be approaching the arch however so I headed back up the road for a mile or so and eventually found the trailhead.

I approached the arch from the backside which was pretty neat because I got to walk between the fissured rock before descending through and under the arch itself. Split Bow was a thinner, more delicate arch than many in the area which allowed me to really see both sides when looking up from below. Coupled with the interesting trail through the rock joint, this made Split Bow my favorite arch that saw while in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Looking up at the sandstone along the Split Bow Arch Trail, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Looking up at the sandstone along the Split Bow Arch Trail, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Split Bow Arch Trail between the cracks approaching the arch, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Split Bow Arch Trail between the cracks approaching the arch, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Split Bow Arch from behind, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Split Bow Arch from behind, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Underneath Split Bow Arch, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Underneath Split Bow Arch, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Split Bow Arch from the front, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Split Bow Arch from the front, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Split Bow Arch from overlook, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Split Bow Arch from overlook, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

The trail to Split Bow shared a trailhead with Bear Creek Overlook, which provided another view of the Big South Fork River gorge. Marked as only a half mile, I couldn’t resist taking that trail as well after returning from my hike to the arch.

Bear Creek Overlook, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

Bear Creek Overlook, Big South Fork Recreation Area, Kentucky

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