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Hiking in the Red River Gorge Geological Area in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky

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My family and I love the outdoors and the hills and forests of Kentucky.

Daniel Boone National Forest

This is one of the many views in the Red River Gorge Geological Area in Kentucky. View from the Natural Bridge Area, looking outward.

This is one of the many views in the Red River Gorge Geological Area in Kentucky. View from the Natural Bridge Area, looking outward.

Where to Hike in Daniel Boone National Forest

We were on our way to the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky and had our main travel day behind us. At our first stop, at what looked like a rest stop in Slade County, we discovered a sort of visitor center. We asked a man there what he recommended for day hiking if we were only going to be there a couple days, and he shared his best ideas with us, along with maps, which introduced us to the beautiful hikes in this article.

This view is from the bottom of the small hill where we were staying in our beautiful little cabin, Sneaky Bear Cabin.  It was lovely!

This view is from the bottom of the small hill where we were staying in our beautiful little cabin, Sneaky Bear Cabin. It was lovely!

A Fun Place to Stay

So we proceeded to head to our cabin in the Red River Gorge area, where we were staying at for a couple of nights. Our particular cabin was the Sneaky Bear Cabin! How fun is that? It was located on a property with a couple of other cabins like it, along with a couple of residences. So while you felt like you were out in the middle of nowhere with hardly any reception, you also didn't feel alone in some wilderness area. It really was kind of a perfect balance. Being more of a city girl from Southern California, it still felt pretty remote to me. I think it did to all of us.

Bear Track Lake Cabins in Beattyville, Kentucky

Natural Bridge State Park and Chair Lift: First Official Spot to Explore

Our first official outing or nature experience in the Red River Geological Area, was to go to the Natural Bridge, which was highly recommended to us. This whole area has amazing natural bridges or arches.

We opted to take the chair lift up to experience the greater area from that vantage point, and to save a little time. My husband and I aren't the most avid hikers at this point in our lives, and we felt that to do right by this area, you would need both skill or endurance, and a lot of time. We didn't have the time for sure, even though our boys would have been fine making the greater hike.

The chair lift allowed for some views that were simply amazing. That said, the way the trees all were, we didn't get a lot of views to the left or right of us. That was fine though. Our two sons rode together on the way down and up, and my husband and I did the same. This area was so beautiful, and I loved the creek below and all the rocks, and especially the cliff area once toward the top.

Once we got off the chair lift, we spent so much time trekking the area that I don't know how we could have seen what we did that day without the lift. Seriously, I don't think we would have made it up, around and back. We truly got a workout along with the benefits of being out in nature, soaking up the sun, breathing so deeply, and generally working up a sweat! The views were astounding. The experience delightful!

Those who like to mountain climb or rock climb have endless options in this Red River Gorge area. If you are a nature photographer, explorer, citizen scientist or naturalist of any kid, you will be in your element here. For me, I had my I-Naturalist app at the ready to capture all the cool little critters and plants I could find.

Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky

Views on the Laurel Trail

The trees in these pictures were so tall, and hard to capture with the camera.  We all loved hiking through here!

The trees in these pictures were so tall, and hard to capture with the camera. We all loved hiking through here!

One of the bluff areas where you can look out into the distance.  You have to be careful, but it is well worth the hike!

One of the bluff areas where you can look out into the distance. You have to be careful, but it is well worth the hike!

Walking the Laurel Trail to Natural Bridge

So we arrived at the top of the where the lift took us, and headed out toward Natural Bridge. I truly loved this area, and it was warm to be sure. We were glad to be fully prepared with our sunscreen and water.

We found ourselves atop the Natural Bridge, and it was amazing really. I could see right away why it was so important to not get too close to the edges. There had been a lot of fine sand or dirt on the trail there, and the erosion there is a real thing to be aware of. So we were walking over the top and enjoying every minute of this part. Then comes the part where you go down and around to where you are facing the underside of the natural bridge. Wow, was it amazing! Please see the pictures I share, which of course don't do it justice.

There was a portion that got very narrow that you have to kind of slide between as you hit a few steps. Once to the bottom, we were saw what we had come for. Just the natural beauty of nature and it's processes playing out. We had a real great time enjoying the beauty of Natural Bridge and the surrounding areas.

We walked along the edges of the wooded area and saw more and more geological beauty of the area. I could hardly get over the various rock formations, and anyone can easily see why whoever named this area added the words, "and geological area" to the Red River Gorge area. It is fair to say I was absolutely loving all aspects of this trip so far.

Please make sure to look at the pictures I share, and see the next portion of our journey in my next article. If you have ever been to this part of the country or to a place like it, I would love to hear your thoughts too.

One last note, the trail on All Trails is called Original Natural Bridge Trail. It is located within Natural Bridge State Park. All Trails is an application I use on my phone, mostly.

Part of the Natural Bridge.  It is so massive, it is hard to capture it all in a photo!

Part of the Natural Bridge. It is so massive, it is hard to capture it all in a photo!

Another view of the amazing Natural Bridge in the Red River Gorge and Geological Area in Kentucky.

Another view of the amazing Natural Bridge in the Red River Gorge and Geological Area in Kentucky.

Another angle of the Natural bridge in the Red River Gorge and Geological Area in Daniel Boone National Forest.

Another angle of the Natural bridge in the Red River Gorge and Geological Area in Daniel Boone National Forest.

One part of the Natural Bridge in Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky.

One part of the Natural Bridge in Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky.

This may be one of my favorite views of the Natural Bridge.

This may be one of my favorite views of the Natural Bridge.

Beautiful Rocks and Life at the Natural Bridge in Kentucky!  One of the many natural bridges in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Beautiful Rocks and Life at the Natural Bridge in Kentucky! One of the many natural bridges in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

A Dinner Recommendation in Beattyville

Before the night was over, we stopped at a local Mexican Restaurant called Los 2 Brothers (a name we all chuckled at), on the little main street in Beattyville. I was struggling with what seemed to be the onset of a cold or severe allergies, so I was craving some very spicy food, and didn't expect to get it so far from Mexico. To my pleasant surprise, my chicken enchiladas with green sauce were actually very spicy! I couldn't have been happier. The food got rid of all my symptoms. Los 2 Brothers Restaurant ended up hitting the spot, and I can recommend it if you need an idea for dinner.

© 2019 Paula