Hiking the Sand Gap Trail
Sand Gap Trail is the most challenging excursion in eastern Kentucky's Natural Bridge State Resort Park, so when you hit this trail, expect to come across others looking for a challenge too. Considering the intensity, you’re likely to find a break from the more family friendly nature of the rest of the park along this path.
What makes it great?
Because of its length, the trail crosses through varying elevations and landscapes, providing a nice dissection of the resort park that’s hard to come across otherwise.
The trail begins not far from the famed Natural Bridge itself near the top of Balanced Rock Trail. For the first three and a half miles, the trail sticks alongside an old logging road that makes for an easy warm up for what follows. The next section joins the much larger Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail where, after about a mile or so, you’ll come across a sharp right turn where Sand Gap splits off again. You’ll follow it to the right, eventually descending into Lower Hood Branch.
Next, you’ll encounter a bog area that transforms into cliffs as the trail makes its way out of the rhododendron, before leading you to a bridge with views of Lower Hood Branch. After that, you’re in for a climb. Next, Sand Gap moves through a few ridges and onto the Hood Branch Trail before ending near the mini golf area.
Afterwards you can enjoy the many amenities that a resort park has to offer, like delicious food, a round of mini golf, or just some good old R&R because, hey, you did it!
Who will love it?
Avid hikers, bird watchers, and nature lovers will all like this trail. Leaf peeping is great in the fall and there are an abundance of wildflowers in the spring. Those looking for a glimpse of nature at work will be pleased during every season. Sand Gap can be a challenge for inexperienced hikers. Those who welcome experiences that entail a little bit of sweat will be pleasantly rewarded. Solo hikers in search of silence and solitude will also really love Sand Gap—things get quiet farther along the trail as you move farther from civilization.
Directions, Parking & Regulations
The trail is easily found from the resort park which is located at 2135 Natural Bridge Rd. Slade, KY 40376.
Written by Cinnamon Janzer for RootsRated.