Hike to Natural Bridge and Battleship Rock

2 miles 400 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Brennan Farley

This short out-and back-hike gives great views of Kentucky's Natural Bridge and Red River Gorge area. Take this hike in the fall for a look at the beautiful foliage of Eastern Kentucky's Daniel Boone National Forest.

This popular hike begins near the state park gift shop and has options to continue to other trails at multiple points. The first .75 miles, starting at about 800 feet, is the hike up to the Natural Bridge. This portion of the hike contains basically all of the increase in elevation. As you hike up, you will become completely immersed in the Daniel Boone National Forest, which covers the Red River Gorge and surrounding hills in Eastern Kentucky. Despite the popularity of this area, there are plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. After reaching the bridge you will be able to climb a carved staircase to the top.

Once you finish taking in the view from the top of the bridge, you can continue across it to the Battleship Rock Trail. While on this trail, you will walk along the peak of the gorge, at about 1200 feet, for .3 miles. passing the Skylift along the way. Once you reach Battleship Rock you will be able to see both the lake and the Natural Bridge. This was the point at which I had to turn back to the trailhead but, if you have more time available, there are 2 additional trails connecting to the Battleship Rock Trail as well as the numerous other trails in the park. The views from both the Bridge and Battleship Rock are incredible, and when the leaves are changing it is arguably one of the best places in Kentucky to visit.

The park itself offers a wide range of adventure opportunities, from kayaking and camping to some of the best rock climbing in the eastern United States. Don't forget to try some Miguel's Pizza at the end of your day!

Read More

Tags

Fitness
Running
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Excellent Sunrise Hike

I've done this a few times as a sunrise hike from Lexington. Give yourself about 45 mins-1 hr to climb to the top of Natural Bridge from the parking lot by the gift shop/lodge, then settle into your front row seat to watch the sun come up over the Gorge. Great way to start the day.

Good But Crowded

It's a nice hike and a great view, but it attracts lots of people. Not always a bad thing, but don't expect any solitude out here. Also, balanced rock trail is more vertical, but had better scenery in my opinion. It's probably preferable to take it down.

Good, But Too Touristy

I love the hike. A bit challenging with all the stairs but it's definitely worth it. The trails leading off from the arch are fun. Don't like how much traffic it brings though so I don't do it often. Usually only with friends visiting the area.

Stunning Views; Lots Of Stairs

The hike was lovely to look at, with lots of cliffs and boulders all covered with moss. The views were worth it in my opinion. The bridge was very cool. However there were lots of stairs. Tons of them. I wouldn't call this one an easy hike at all.

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

almost 5 years ago

While not as impressive as arches in the Southwest, it's still one of the coolest places for a weekend trip from Cincinnati.

Stay Nearby

Salt Lick, Kentucky

Zilpo Daniel Boone Nat. For.

Overview Zilpo, a large, fun-filled campground on Cave Run Lake, is a prime destination for families. The scenic campground offers a cabin rental, tent camping, RV sites with electric hookups and a...

Clearfield, Kentucky

Twin Knobs Campground

Overview Nestled on the shores of Cave Run Lake, this camp is part of the larger Twin Knobs Recreation Area. There are more than 200 sites spread out over 10 loops under a dense forest of mixed co...

Clearfield, Kentucky

Boat Gunnel Group Campground

Overview Boat Gunnel Group Campground is located in the Daniel Boone National Forest on Cave Run Lake. Widely known for its scenic beauty and varied outdoor recreation opportunities, Cave Run Lake...

Richmond, Kentucky

Jordan Hill Farm

Experience the rustic beauty in our warm and inviting facility that appeals with irresistible and understated elegance. Our one-of-a-kind rooms that feature accommodations up to 12 people.Please re...

From $350/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike to Whittleton Arch

    Starting from the Whittleton Campground, you will follow along a stream until reaching the Whittleton Arch Trail at 0.75 miles. Turn right to reach the arch. It is also worth noting that this is the only pet friendly trail in the park. You can add...

    2 miles 280 ft gain

  • Camp at Miguel's Pizza

    The Red River Gorge is known for the best rock climbing in the east. A man named Miguel opened a pizzeria in the gorge, and soon began letting climbers camp behind the restaurant for a mere $2/night. Today, the tradition has continued, and dozens ...

  • Hike the Indian Staircase Loop and Cloudsplitter

    Starting at the Bison Way Trailhead #210. You'll take this until you come to the intersection of the Sheltowee Trace Trail #100. Go left. You're going to turn right on the unmarked trail just past the sign that says stay on trail. This is quite th...

    10 miles

  • Backpack Chimney Top Loop

    Start out on Koomer Ridge Trail to see Hidden Arch. You will then head into the Right Fork Chimney Top Creek watershed, where you'll spend the night. The next day, hike along Buck Ridge to Sheltowee Trace Trail. Gray's Arch is located off of this ...

    10.7 miles 40 ft gain