Category Archives: State Park

A Walk in the Park in Kentucky, Part 2

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Day 2 of our trip to Red River Gorge was a bit less hiking, but even more to see. When we turned into the park, on day 1, we went right. On day 2 we went left.

The first thing we found was a tunnel in the mountain. Nada Tunnel. IMG_8929

The tunnel used to be a railroad tunnel. It is now a 900 foot, single lane, passage through the mountain for cars.

We came out the other side, to this.

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Pretty much, through out this whole portion of the drive, the road looks like this. It is beautiful, though I wish we had been able to go a couple weeks later to watch those leaves change!

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One thing I found interesting here was that we crossed a lot of bridges. Everyone was very different.

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That last bridge is called the Sky Bridge. It is a natural stone arch, that crosses over another path. The hike is easy, though you will want to be careful walking across the bridge, as you can see, there are no walls. And, the edges are worn down, so the very center is high and flat, and the close you get to the edge, the more sloped the rock becomes.

I found this little guy on our hike.

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I think this may be one of my best pictures!

On the route to the Sky Bridge hike, you will also find a sign that read’s “Devil’s Canyon Overlook” This is the view.

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Now, if you are anything like me, you will decide that standing by the fence is not good enough, and you will walk down a little side path, with no fence.  And the side path will lead you down here.

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Can you see, under that one pine tree, the bright green moss on the edge of the rock? If you are anything like me, you will decide you MUST sit there to get a picture. If you are married to anyone like my husband, you will keep inching over there while he shouts “Get back here!” I made it, and sat on that ledge, and enjoyed every second of my view, while my husband had a panic attack. (Ok, not really, but he was not happy with me and was very tempted to pick me up and move me back about 4 feet.) I took this picture though.

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Those are huge, fully grown trees under my feet.

We eventually had to make our way out of the park. Remember how I said it stormed on day one? This was how a good portion of the roads looked on day 2.

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Next, I’m working on the basic info post. Soon I will have posts from the Las Vegas trip we just got back from as well.

A Walk in the Park in Kentucky

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On a rare week off for my husband, we decided to go on a road trip to Kentucky for some hiking. The trip was off to a rough start. We wanted to go Wed-Thurs. But, on Sunday night we got word my uncle had passed away and we had no details about arrangements. Not wanting to miss his funeral, we bumped the trip up. It poured the whole drive. All 6 hours of it.

And, I had/have a pinched nerve in my back, so my leg is killing me. And, I’m all wobbly. We kept on anyway. I thought, how hard could this be? Thinking of Indiana’s vast corn fields, not of Kentucky’s mountain ranges.

We wanted to go to Red River Gorge, deep in Daniel Boone National Forest.  The website for the forest proudly boasts that this park “embraces some of the most rugged terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains.” It would seem I should have done some more research before we left.

We got to the park, it had actually stopped raining at that point. Which was nice, especially since the “Dangerous Cliffs” sign above was the first sign that greeted us.

We started down the Gray’s Arch trail. The sign said it was just a .25 mile hike. Not a problem. So, we began. Above Gray’s Arch the sign read “Rough Trail” we thought it was a warning about trail conditions. We were mistaken. The arch trail was another trail, off the main trail. The main trail was perfectly named, Rough Trail. It was 7 miles long. A fact we did not know until we finished hiking.

The scenery is stunning, the trees turning all different colors. The temperature was perfect, mid-sixties. There are rock formations almost everywhere you look. My kids enjoyed hunting for mushrooms. We know nothing about mushrooms though, so we just looked and took pictures.

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It was definitely a rough trail, but not undoable. All 4 of us did fine. We were about 1.5 miles in when we found the first of several rock shelters.

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It was around this point we also found Gray’s Arch.

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This photo was taken with a filter. I took several pictures, and this is the one that shows the arch best. I just wanted to get to the arch, so we continued. It didn’t seem that far away.

We continued down the trail, and found another rock shelter, and a cave. IMG_8887

This cave is at the top of three very long, very narrow, and very steep sets of stairs. We finally reached the bottom of the stairs, and the trail forked. It seemed if we went right it would head to the arch. Left would head down another trail. As we discussed it, the sky broke open and the rain began. We rushed to the left, to get under cover of yet another rock shelter.  We thought we’d wait it out for a bit. After 30 minutes, it was still pouring, and a bad storm was heading in. It was getting late, we certainly didn’t want to hike in the dark.  And we’d already walked a mile into our “short hike” to the arch. It was another .50 mile to the arch. So, we decided to turn around and go back. The hike back was all uphill.

We realized we had made the right choice when we got up the stairs and saw the path.

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And this was one of the best parts of the path. Wide, and no cliff immediately to one side. We vary carefully headed back to the car.

And that was the end of day one.

More to come soon, but I’m heading out of town again in the morning and I won’t be taking the computer. The next post will probably be next week.

Whirlpool State Park- Need to Know

This is not a park. There are few benches, and no water fountains. You come here to hike and take pretty pictures.

It is free.

Do:

  • Wear good shoes. I had on Walmart tennis shoes, and my feet hurt so badly when we were done, from the jagged rocks on the trail poking the bottom of the shoes.
  • Bring water! We made a terrible mistake and didn’t bring it. So, we were quite dehydrated when we finally climbed out of the gorge.
  • Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Watch out for snakes.
  • Take out anything you bring in!
  • Take your time and be careful.

Don’t:

  • Don’t get in the water. The whirlpool and the rapids are incredibly dangerous. If you live through your adventure, you will be prosecuted.
  • Don’t eat any plants, there are some that look like onions, but are poisonous.
  • Don’t take anything out with you. Leave plants and fossils there.
  • Don’t feed the animals.

The park is open, year round from dawn to dusk. There are restrooms in the welcome center, but they are only open April-October.

There is a playground and picnic tables. Taking a lunch is a great idea, but, take your trash out with you.

You can fish, and the few other visitors we saw there had brought fishing poles.

I, personally, wouldn’t bring anyone here who is under the age of 8 or so. But, I happen to have a very athletic 8 yr old who hates people but likes walking. 10 is probably a better guideline. Because you will be walking miles, and  climbing up and down rocks.

After writing that, I went looking for more information, and found the Niagara Falls State Park website. They agree, no one under the age of 8 should be on these trails.

For More Information:

Visit Buffalo Niagara- This has information, the actual address, a phone number and a map.

Niagara Whirlpool- History and information about the river and the whirlpool.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation- This actually is the site for the park, so there is a lot of information available.

 

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Whirlpool State Park

IMG_7003Whirlpool State Park in located in New York.

It is just off the Robert Moses State Parkway, Niagara Falls, New York. Do you know what else is off the Robert Moses St. Pkwy? Niagara Falls. So, that explains the lack of people when you pull into the parking lot of this state park. If you like people and touristy things, Niagara Falls is where you want to go. There are all sorts of places to spend your money. However, if you are looking for a bit quieter, or maybe you’ve spent all your money at the Falls, but don’t want to sit around your hotel room, than this is the place for you.

I read some reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor. The reviews are colored by people’s perspective. I saw many that said “nothing to see except water.” which,is almost technically true. But, let me tell you, it is worth it.

Both parking and admission into the park is free. There is a playground beside the parking lot, as well as picnic tables. There is a small welcome center, with some history, and a couple bathrooms.

If you are not in shape, or not a hiker, this is a difficult place to visit. If you are a hiker, you will think this is an easy day. I felt I got a great workout, and was able to go everywhere, even though I’m not in the best shape.

Come see Whirlpool State Park with me.

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This is toward the beginning of the trails. It looks nice, and simple. This is at the top of the gorge. After walking a half mile or so, there is a break in the railing.  You can continue along the railing, or you can look in the break, to see stairs.

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This photo is taken, looking up, from about the middle point of the stairs. This is the easy part of the stairs.  Take the stairs! This is how you get to the bottom of the gorge. You walk down 300-400 steps. I don’t know how many, I lost count. Please remember though, you have to go back up them.

The stairs will give way to ground. I’d like to tell you it is flat, level ground, but it isn’t. We found a rocky, steep, area, that might have been a path, but we aren’t sure. We took it anyway. (Watch out for snakes and ticks.) If you take these random, rocky paths you might end up somewhere like this.

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This is downstream from the whirlpool. If you look closely toward the top of the picture you can see the Whirlpool Aero Car (click it, it will take you to their website), taking people over the top of the river, to see the whirlpool. That was actually how I found this park, months ago I took the aero car and saw people standing on rocks, 300 feet below, and I needed to find those rocks. I did.

You can sit on the rocks and watch the jet boats, or you can keep on walking. We sat for an hour or so, just watching. Then, kept walking.

This is where you begin to lose the trails. Watch for neon orange spray paint on rocks or trees. Those are the trails. You will eventually find another rocky path. Take it. It leads you to flat rocks, directly under the cable car. Straight ahead, as you walk, you will see the whirlpool and the rapids. IMG_7063

Now, allow me to explain, this is not a whirlpool like you see in the movies. Where the water spins in a perfect circle and creates a sort of underwater tornado. The whirlpool effect is much subtler. It is caused by the river taking a sharp turn at this point, almost a 90 degree turn. The rapids are a category 6 in this place. DO NOT get in the water! You will die.

Once you’ve had your fill of this scenery, you can continue down the path. At some point, you will look up, and see how far you have come down.

IMG_7069The parking lot is at the very top of this rock.

This is about as far as we went, because we planned badly. And, that is actually part of what got this blog started.

Do I have you interested in seeing this? The next post will be the practical side of things, thing you need to know if you are going to visit. Things we’ve learned from experience.

I’m still figuring out how to organize this, so be patient with me.

 Whirlpool State Park