Hike to Natural Bridge and Battleship Rock

Natural Bridge Parking Area

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!

Pack List

  • Day Pack
  • 2-3 Liters of Water
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Light Rain Jacket
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Trail Map
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RT Distance 2 Miles
Elevation Gain 400 Feet
Activities Running, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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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.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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