Hiking to the Natural Bridge in Kentucky

On a Southeast road trip earlier this year, Teddy and I made our way through eight states, with one of them being Kentucky. While we only spent two days there, we made sure to fit exploring both Mammoth Cave National Park as well as this hike in the Red River Gorge into our trip. We loved our time exploring the outdoors of Kentucky and will definitely be back to explore more of what the Red River Gorge has to offer.

Trail Info:

  • Trail Name: Lakeside Trail (.25 miles) + Original Trail (.75 miles)
  • Location: Slade, Kentucky in the Natural Bridge State Resort Park
  • Length: 2 miles round trip
  • Type: Out and back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Bridge Height: 75 feet long, 65 feet high
  • History: The Natural Bridge is said to be about 1 million years old

Getting There:

The Lakeside Trail is a short connector trail that begins of KY Highway 11 with a parking lot at the trailhead. From the parking lot, there will be a set of wooden steps that lead to a flat trail by the lake, and then cross a swinging wooden bridge to meet up with the Original Trail.

The Original Trail is the most popular trail to get to the Natural Bridge. It starts by the gift shop and then is uphill to the trailhead. From there, you climb 400 or so feet to end up under the Natural Bridge. On the backside of the bridge is a crack in the stone that you can shimmy through and a set of stairs to get to the top of the bridge and look out over the gorge.

Hiking Tips:

  • To hike the Lakeside and Original Trails took us about 90 minutes or so. We did stop at the top for a while for photos, so it may not take a long for you.
  • There are no pets permitted on the trail so leave your pups at home
  • Wear sturdy hiking shoes as most of the trails are uphill to the top of the Natural Bridge
  • Since some of the trails can connect and overlap, you can extend your hike to be as long as you’d wish
  • Don’t forget water, especially if you plan to hike some of the longer trails

In the area:

  • There are about 10 hiking trails in the area of the Natural Bridge which range from .5 miles to about 7.5 miles long shown on this map
  • Instead of taking a trail, there’s also an option to take a sky lift to the top of the bridge if you’d prefer
  • There’s campground options in the state resort park which you can learn more about here
  • As the Natural Bridge sits in the Red River Gorge, if you’d like to explore more of the area, you can check out these other popular Red River Gorge trails like Whittleton Arch, Chimney Top Rock, Rock Bridge Loop, and Hidden Arch
  • There’s also a kayak or cave boat experience you can take part in called the Gorge Underground for a unique way to explore the gorge caves

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