Kentucky’s Natural Bridge is a popular hiking location in the east-central part of the state. The Red River Gorge is located in The Daniel Boone National Forest and is a part of a canyon system along the Red River.
There are many trails in The Red River Gorge that will lead you to different arches. The most popular is in The Natural Bridge State Park. Highly trafficked, but highly worth it. You can choose a number of different possible routes to get to the bridge. I want to share with you the path I have been taking the past few times I’ve visited Natural Bridge.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park
2135 Natural Bridge Rd.
Slade, KY 40376
The easiest and quickest way to see the natural bridge formation is to take the original natural bridge trail which is just a half a mile to the top of the bridge. This is a steep hike, but still by far the easiest way to the bridge.
Over the years, my favorite hiking trails in the gorge have changed. For the past year or so, I’ve been starting my time in the park by hiking the .50 Original Natural Bridge Trail to the bridge.
On the way up to the bridge you see a lot of sandstone formations and moss covered tree roots. Portions of the trail are dirt, some are gavel, and others are natural rock. One of the things I love about this hike is that it gives off major fantasy vibes in some parts, especially in early morning, in the evening, or after it rains.
There are several wooden benches and gazebos along the way for you to rest!
When you are almost to the end of the hike, you will come to a flat open area of rock. Turn to the right to take The Rock Garden Trail, turn to the left to march your way through The Fat Mans Squeeze and on up to The Natural Bridge.
Once you go through “Fat Mans Squeeze” also called “Fat Mans Misery”, only a set of stone steps stands between you and the natural bridge.
Continue walking over the bridge and you will come to the sky lift. The sky lift is a great option for people who aren’t able to hike, have mobility issues, or if you are simply too tired to hike back down the mountain.
Following the trail past the sky lift will take you to another overlook that will give you views of the natural bridge from afar.
On my way down the mountain, I like to take the 1.75 mile Rock Garden Trail. This trail is somewhat overlooked in my opinion. There is a 220 foot elevation gain it is so beautiful!
You can see designs in the sandstone cliffs made by water over time, there are several sand sections of the trail, as well as sections that make you understand how the trail got the name “Rock Garden”.
There is a huge change of scenery as you walk along the Rock Garden Trail. You start walking through high sandy regions, then heading down the mountain to a wet and more green region.
There is so much to explore around The Natural Bridge State Park and The Red River Gorge.
Other than the trails and the sky lift, you can also stop for lunch at the popular Miguels Pizza, go zip lining, rock climbing, or play at the Canopy Explorer Ropes Course.
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