Our most challenging trail, Sand Gap requires 4-6 hours to complete. There are no shortcuts once you’ve started, so allow adequate time to make this trip before dark. Sand Gap Trail begins near the upper end of the Balanced Rock Trail about 500 feet from the top of Natural Bridge. For the next 3.5 miles, Sand Gap follows an old logging road and is easy to moderate walking along the ridgetop. The first section of this trail is a part of the Sheltowee National Recreation Trail. At approximately 1.5 miles from the beginning, Sand Gap Trail makes a sharp right turn and the Sheltowee Trace Trail splits off of the Sand Gap Trail and heads south. Here you will turn right continuing on the Sand Gap trail which heads northeast. About 3.5 miles from the beginning, the trail descends steeply into Lower Hood Branch. It will level out in the vicinity of a bog, then turn right across a bridge and begin to meander below the cliffs through rhododendron thickets. At about 6.5 miles, the trail descends to a bridge over the Lower Hood Branch. From here, the trail climbs up the side of the valley for about .25 mile following a skid road built by loggers in the 19th century. As you climb this section, watch carefully for the sharp left turn where the trail leaves this old road. From here, you’ll wind around a couple of ridges then follow a fairly level grade for about 1.5 miles to the Hood Branch Trail. You will take a left onto the Hood’s Branch Trail and walk downhill for approximately .25 mile which leads to the sky lift and miniature golf parking area. Elevation change of 450 feet.
The sandstone arch which Natural Bridge State Resort Park derives its name took millions of years to form. Located just a few minutes from Slade in eastern Kentucky, Natural Bridge is found off the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway. The park has some of the most unique geological formations, and breathtaking views found anywhere in the commonwealth. Serious adventure seekers love to visit Natural Bridge due to its plentiful year-round and seasonal activities. Hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, geological landmarks and a Skylift are just a few of the opportunities available to visitors. There is also a 60-acre lake in the park, as well as a lodge that offers accommodation options full amenities—reserve your room early. People find themselves totally immersed in their natural surroundings when visiting Natural Bridge State Resort Park, and it keeps many people returning year after year. Come see one of the most spectacular natural bridges in the region, stay at the campground or lodge, and recreate in Kentucky’s great outdoors!