We wrote about about our fabulous hike in Natural Bridge State Park on our first day in this area – which is nestled in the Daniel Boone National Park (DBNP). If you missed it, click here. Then we wrote about our not so fabulous hike in the Red River Gorge, also nestled in the DBNP. If you missed it, click here.
We’ve decided to return to the Natural Bridge State Park (NBSP) for the rest of our hikes while we are here. On July 13, 2016, we headed back to NBSP for what we hoped would be a 7 & 1/2 mile hike, Sand Gap Trail. Yes, we thought we were ready for a long hike! We used All Trails to take us to the trailhead, which is in the State Park. It got us close, but we had to ask for help. So went to the Gift Shop to ask for directions. We were told the trail was closed due to a storm, there were too many trees down, AND they had to rescue some people stuck on it last night. She suggested we hike on Hood’s Branch Trail, close by. She also said to watch for the copper head snakes. Oh this sounds exciting!
We found the trailhead behind the Putt Putt Golf course as she directed. It was a well marked trail, which started out as an easy and flat trail. Of course, we all know, no trail remains this way if you are in DBNP!
Soon after we started out, we found the Sand Gap Trailhead! I ran up it a ways to check it out. It looked OK, but who knows. I did see that it was 7 1/2 miles to Natural Bridge, not a loop as we initially thought.
The ascent wasn’t too steep. We met a couple coming down from another trail from Natural Bridge. They had another map, so we discovered we could extend our hike by taking Hood’s Branch Upper Loop:
After about 1/4 mile, we decided this trail should have been closed because there were so many downed trees. Or maybe this was the trail that was actually closed. We had to turn around…and I was concerned about the copperheads! Fortunately, we didn’t see any. Phew… If you want to see more pictures from this trail, click here.
We should remind you, were are in a National Forest! It is hard to see “views.” But a hike in the woods is so peaceful and relaxing for us. A friend recently told us about Forest Therapy, saying no wonder we are so healthy. Have you heard about it?
They say we ought to slow down from time to time to stop and smell the flowers. That sounds great in theory, especially for those of us moving at hyper speed, but the logistics of it are another matter.
One way to get a quick taste of this slowing down business is by doing what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” which entails basking in the forest’s atmosphere as you move slowly, calmly, and mindfully, soaking it in through all five senses while lingering for a few hours. A host of studies show that this can do wonders for your health.
Our hike was just over five miles, walking for an hour and 45 minutes. We had a gentle ascent and descent, from 728′ to 1,061′. It was very therapeutic!
Our next hike, we decided to seek out the Sheltowee Trail as it continues up into Powell County. This time, I called the Ranger Station and spoke to a ranger to make sure we found the trailhead on the first try. We actually looked for it each time we were in the NBSP as it was supposed to be near the parking lot. He gave us the directions and let us know there was a great reward, Whittleton Arch. So off we went and it was a great hike, nearly 6 miles, an ascent, descent, ascent, descent and a LONG ascent up, then of course, descent. We started at 735′ and went up to 1240′. Below is a short slide show with highlights from the hike. If you want to see more pictures, click here.
Next up, our day trip to Lexington and more info about our time in Daniel Boone National Forest and Natural Bridge State Park. Below is a quote and beautiful picture I saw on twitter. We had a few staircases in our hikes. I thought this was a good one! @ramblingsloa