Carter Caves State Resort Park
Carter Caves on 26 miles of wooded nature trails
Discover the above ground beauty of Carter Caves on 26 miles of wooded nature trails. Trails range from easy to difficult hiking level ability. The Kiser Hollow Trail is a multi-use 10-mile trail for horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. There is a parking area at the trailhead for trucks with horse trailers. Guests bring and ride mountain bikes. No ATVs allowed, and no overnight camping on the trail.
The 3 Bridges Trail
The 3 Bridges Trail is a 3.5-mile trail. Walking at a leisurely pace, it can be completed in about 2 hours. Attractions along the trail include Smokey Bridge (the parkâ€™s largest), Raven Bridge, Fern Bridge and numerous vistas of the lake. Access the 3 Bridges Trail at the lodge, campgrounds, Welcome Center, cottages or near the lake parking lot. The trail is marked with red blazes.
The Raven Bridge Trail
The Raven Bridge Trail is 0.7-mile in length. It provides the most direct and easiest route to Raven Bridge. This trail is fairly level and skirts alongside the golf course in some areas. Arriving at Raven Bridge, the hiker has the option of returning to the lodge on the Raven Bridge Trail or following the trail past Raven Bridge to a point where it meets the 3 Bridges Trail. The hiker can then return to the lodge by the 3 Bridges Trail. The trail is marked with blue blazes.
The Rockhouse Trail
The Rockhouse Trail is a short trail which connects the Raven Bridge Trail, running along the ridge top, with the 3 Bridges Trail running parallel in the valley. It provides a relatively short (1/2-mile) loop in the vicinity of the lodge. To walk this loop, begin walking the Raven Bridge Trail at the lodge. Then follow the Rockhouse Trail to the 3 Bridges Trail. Return to the lodge on the 3 Bridges Trail. The trail is marked with yellow blazes.
The Horn Hollow Trail
The Horn Hollow Trail is a loop trail that begins and ends near the Welcome Center. It runs through the Cave Branch valley, parallel to the entrance highway, then ascends into a streamless valley called Horn Hollow, passing a number of cave entrances. The trail then ascends to a high ridgetop before dropping down into a small valley on the return trip to the Welcome Center. This hilly, but scenic trail is especially rewarding during the spring wildflower season, during April and May. The trail is two-miles in length and is marked with green blazes.
The Natural Bridge Trail
The Natural Bridge Trail begins at the Welcome Center, proceeds down to the valley behind the Center and past the picnic shelter to Carter Caves Natural Bridge. This impressive natural bridge is one of the landmarks of the area and may be considered unique in Kentucky; it is the only natural bridge that supports a paved highway. The trail leads through the bridge and continues around the hillside to the top of the bridge. The trail continues across the highway on top of the bridge and proceeds down the valley behind the Welcome Center where it completes a loop. The trail is less than 1/2-mile in length. The route from the Welcome Center to the bridge is easy, but beyond the bridge, the trail becomes more difficult. The trail is marked with white blazes.
The Box Canyon Trail
The Box Canyon Trail is a .75-mile loop trail that begins at the Cascade area parking lot. It is one of our most scenic trails and passes unusual geologic features in the park, including the Cascade natural bridge, the Box Canyon and the wind tunnel. The trail is hilly and fairly difficult. The trail is marked with orange blazes.
The Carter Caves Cross Country Trail (The 4-Câ€™s Trail)
The Carter Caves Cross Country Trail (4-Câ€™s Trail) is a 7 .5-mile trail that begins at the parkâ€™s Welcome Center. It travels into the backcountry of the park. The 4-Câ€™s passes through the Shangra La Arch and runs parallel to Smokey Valley Lake before crossing Smoky Creek and ascending a hill that leads to the Johnson Homeplace Backcountry Primitive Campground. The campground is approximately 5-miles from the beginning of the trail. A permit is required at the Welcome Center to camp here. Shortly after the primitive campground, the trail crosses a suspension bridge over the lake spillway then joins the 3 Bridges Trail on the return trip to the Welcome Center. The trail is difficult and should be considered for experienced hikers. The trail is marked with orange blazes.
The Kiser Hollow Trail
The Kiser Hollow Trail is a 10-mile loop trail that begins and ends near the parkâ€™s horse stables. The trail can be used as two 5-mile loops on each side of Cave Brance Road. It is designed to be used by hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Motor vehicles are not permitted. A portion of the trail passes through the mature hardwood forest of the Tygart State Forest and runs through a scenic valley cut by Smokey Creek. In Kiser Hollow, trail users will see the remains of the Kiser Homeplace, one of the early settlers in the area. The trail is hilly and portions of the trail are in very remote areas. Hikers should be experienced. Some steep grades may pose problems for mountain bikers. The trail is marked with yellow blazes.
Directions: Google Directions
From I-64 east. Take exit #161 (Olive Hill exit). Turn left off the exit onto US 60 east. Go approximately 2 miles and turn left on KY 182 north. Park entrance is 3 miles from the left turn onto KY 182 north.
From I-64 west. Take exit #161 (Second Olive Hill exit).Turn right off the exit onto US 60 east. Go approximately 2 miles and turn left on KY 182 north. Park entrance is 3 miles from the left turn onto KY 182 north.
From Cincinnati: Take 275 east to the Wilder exit. You are now on the AA highway (Rt. 9). Follow the AA through Maysville and Vanceburg . At Vanceburg you will go through 2 caution lights, several miles out of Vanceburg you will see another set of caution lights. Turn right onto South 9. (You are still on the AA highway) Follow South 9 for 12 miles to another set of caution lights, turn right onto Rt. 7 & Rt. 2. Follow Rt. 7 to Carter City, turn left onto Rt. 2. Follow Rt. 2 to Rt. 182. Follow Route 182 to the park entrance. The park entrance is on the right at the bottom of a long curvy hill. Drive Time: Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes.
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