Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky
Also located in the Red River Gorge is Natural Bridge State Park, home to one of the largest and widest natural arches in eastern Kentucky. I absolutely loved hiking here. I started on the Original Trail – a less than 1 mile climb to the ridge -which has been in use since the 1890s. The trail is wide and well-maintained, with beautiful cut-rock steps that ease the steep grade as the trail winds up along the eroded cliffs.
After passing under the arch I turned onto the Battleship Rock Trail which follows the ridge before climbing up the Needle’s Eye Staircase to the top of the ridge. From there I picked up the Laurel Ridge Trail, which traverses the length of the ridge and eventually over the Natural Bridge itself before descending down through a rock joint. These sections along the base of the cliffs and then along the ridge itself were the most scenic and offered some absolutely stunning views. The trail through the rock joint was also really neat.
Passing back through the arch I began the descent back to the trailhead but instead of following the Original Trail, I chose the Balanced Rock Trail which in addition to featuring the eponymous Balanced Rock had some interesting sandstone cliff formations and shallow caves caused by erosion.