Daniel Boone National Forest
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.
A Fun Place to Stay
So we headed to our cabin in the Red River Gorge area, where we were staying 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 few 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 a wilderness area. It really was kind of a perfect balance. Being 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 nature experience outing in the Red River Geological Area was the Natural Bridge, which was strongly recommended to us. This whole area has amazing natural bridges and 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 were situated, 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, and 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 iNaturalist 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
Walking the Laurel Trail to Natural Bridge
So we arrived at the top of our lift journey, 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. 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 slide between as you hit a few steps. Once at the bottom, we saw what we had come for. Just the natural beauty of nature and its processes playing out. We had a 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: on the AllTrails app, the trail is called Original Natural Bridge Trail. It is located within Natural Bridge State Park.
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