Natural Bridge State Park Resort in Kentucky holds my earliest memories of walking through the woods to a wondrous destination. As an adult, I still feel the allure.
Southeast of Lexington, in the midst of a landscape that evokes the words of Appalachian writer James Still who once described these mountains as a “river of earth,” Natural Bridge, is the centerpiece of one of Kentucky’s top state park resorts.
Like Buckhorn State Park Resort that’s farther southeast, Natural Bridge has a lodge that offers simple comfort, warm hospitality and tasty down-home food. Kentucky Hot Brown, country ham and catfish are on the menu. Of course, don’t forget the soup beans and cornbread.
Balconies are a feature of each of 35 guest rooms that range from 1 to 2 queen beds of Hemlock Lodge. Because of the lodge’s placement on a ledge overlooking a valley in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the views of the lake and the swimming pool are at a bird’s eye vantage point. The resort also has 1 to 2 bedroom cottages. Some rooms are pet friendly.
With 12 hiking trails, the volume is turned up on a weekend walk, particularly when climbing to the top of a sandstone arch that was formed over millions of years. One doesn’t have to hike up the mountain to get to the top of this naturally formed bridge, however. There’s a skylift option.
The last time I was here, my mother, son and I took the historic skylift up and back down. Built in 1967, the lift is a bit of a thrill as the 2 seater-seats dip, lift and whir along the cables from pole to pole. There’s a path at the top platform that leads the short distance to the top of the natural bridge. It is possible to make a one-way trip in either direction. No matter which way you go, walk to the center of the bridge for the view. The bridge is flatish on top and 20 feet wide–a steady place to stand indeed.
Natural Bridge, depending upon the time of year, has several things to do. Canoeing and kayaking on Mill Creek Lake are Memorial Day through Labor Day ventures. Anglers of all ages can catch an array of fish that includes: catfish, bluegill, sungill and rainbow trout. Birding is another Natural Bridge pasttime. Woodland warblers won’t show up here until June, but keep an eye out for Kentucky’s state bird, the cardinal. Pileated woodpecker, the indigo bunting and the tufted titmouse are among the other year-round residents.
Also like at Buckhorn Lake State Park, Natural Bridge has seasonal planned activities and events like guided hikes, crafts, games and minature golf.
Rack rates are $64 for a room. Cottage rates are between $99.95 and $149.95. Discounts are available for senior citizens (age 62) and AAA members.
Reservations can be made on the park website or by phone.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park
2135 Natural Bridge Road
Slade KY 40376-9701 USA
Photos of lodge, courtesy of Natural Bridge State Park Resort. Post and other photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein.