Original Trail

The Original Trail is part of Natural Bridge State Resort Park and is the shortest/most direct route up to Natural Bridge. If you start behind the Natural Bridge Lodge (like we do in the #TrailTalk video below), it is 0.5 miles to reach the arch, but you can also start lower near the Natural Bridge Gift Shop and then the route will be 0.75 miles to the arch! Either way, you can see how this is a super short path!

While it is short, the elevation gain is significant (over 400 ft), BUT there are multiple benches and shelters along the side of the trail to take a break along the way if you need it! Don’t let the elevation gain scare you because this trail is great for people of all ages and abilities!

One major thing to keep in mind when hiking within Natural Bridge State Resort Park is that dogs aren’t allowed (because it is a dedicated Kentucky State Nature Preserve). I know – it sucks not being able to hike with them, but you can always head on over to the Red River Gorge proper if you’ve got a doggo (or more) with you! They are also allowed on Henson’s Arch Trail and Whittleton Branch/Arch trails that are technically part of the State Park (trailheads in Whittleton Campground).

Anyway, if you choose to complete the hike up to Natural Bridge, you will definitely be rewarded! This sandstone arch is SUPER iconic and if you haven’t been before, I recommend checking it out! I grew up taking mini vacations here with my family and have many childhood memories from this arch and surrounding area.

Because this trail is so short and direct with a very well-traversed and wide path, I’ve hiked it for sunset multiple times! Just remember to plan ahead and prepare and pack those headlamps if you do this because once the sun sets behind the ridge line, the forest gets DARK. You’ll need it on the way back, and you’ll be happy when you have a hands-free light to light your way back down. šŸ˜‰

On that note, people who listen to Tread the Red Podcast are sitting there like —-WHAT—- after listening to the *spooky* episodes we recorded for Halloween this past year.

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