Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hiking at Mammoth Cave National Park

Usually when people think about Mammoth Cave National Park they think about the underground caverns.  And rightly so since Mammoth Cave is the most extensive cave system on earth.  However, there is a lot above ground as well.  The 53,000 surface acres offer a place for camping, canoeing, kayaking, bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, and auto touring.  We, of course, are interested in the trails and we went there today for a hike.

With about 60 miles of trail in the park, we had many to choose from.  There are horse trails, bike trails, and hiking trails.  Since hikers are allowed on all the trails, we selected Good Spring Loop trail which is actually a horse trail.  The loop is about 7.5 miles over gently rolling hills through primarily hardwood forest which gave us a good workout.

We haven’t been to Mammoth Cave in several years, probably about 10.  We didn’t have a trail map and couldn’t remember many details about the park, so our first stop was at the Visitor Center.  We were surprised to see a new Visitor Center under construction.  Only one wing is left to be completed; the main building was open.  It’s very nice.  The old building, as I recall, was way past it’s prime.  We picked up a trail map and were on our way.

Parking for our trail was at Good Spring Church.  To get there we had to first catch the ferry across the Green River.  At the end of the paved road we had about a mile of gravel road before getting to the church parking area.

Good Spring Baptist Church is still in use today with worship services, homecomings, and other special events.  It was reminiscent of the pioneer churches within Smoky Mountain National Park, especially in the Cade’s Cove area.  These churches were here long before the parks were parks and many of them like Good Spring Church still serve the descendants of those original members.

We finally got on the trail about 10 AM.  Being a horse trail, we had to be careful where we put our feet and like most horse trails, it was pretty beat up in places.  Because there hasn’t been any rain for several days, the trail was dry even in these spots that would normally be a mud pit.  Even the creeks were nearly dry.

We walked the first mile and a half without seeing another soul.  We stopped for a break and the late starters caught up with us.  But they weren’t hikers--they were horseback riders.  Altogether today we saw about 30 horses.  We were shocked that so many people were out.  Of course, it was a beautiful day.  Still, we had no idea the trails here had become so popular.

We were glad we went.  It was 97 miles from our campsite to the trailhead.  That’s a long way to drive for a 7 mile hike, especially on a horse trail.  But the drive was fast along I-65, the traffic was light, and it was some place different to go.  The scenery and terrain were not that different from what we have right here in Nashville at Warner Parks, but it seemed more like a real outing because we got out of town.  We had a great day.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.


  1. The blog looks good, Judi! Not sure how you're publishing to it, but Live Writer is an easy way to do it. Plus, adding pictures is a snap with Live Writer.

    Glad you're having a good time in Tennessee!

  2. nice work so far on your blog Judy!!..and the suggestion to use Live Writer is an excellent one!!!..