Our First Hike to Natural Bridge – Thursday, July 3, 2014

We decided today we would hike to Natural Bridge.
Click HERE for a nice PDF map of Natural Bridge State Park.
We were at the parking lot near the Gift Shop by 8am.  The weather gets warm in the afternoon, so we wanted to be done before then.  Also, the Skylift doesn’t run until 10am, so that means less people up on Natural Bridge early in the morning!!
00c - Natural Bridge SP, Hiking Map

We decided to hike The Original Trail (#1) up and hike Balanced Rock Trail (#2) down.  Our reason was that The Original Trail is said to be the shortest and easiest route to the Bridge.  Balanced Rock Trail is said to be the steepest trail so it seem a good idea to do that one down;o))

02a - Signs as we Head up the trail
Click on any photo to enlarge or hover your mouse on any photo for a description.
We started near the gift shop where we picked up The Original Trail.
00c - We parked near the Nature Center 01 - Original Trail Trailhead02 -Heading up the trail 03 - continuing along a well maintained trail04 - bridge crossing 05 - large set of step UP
It is a very well maintained trail!!
When you reach the quarter mile mark, you are at the Hemlock Lodge Road. 
The trail sign here indicates this is the shortest and easiest trail to Natural Bridge. 
Make note, EASIEST does not mean EASY ;o))
06 - Start of the original Original Trail
You will hike Up, Up, Up to get there!!!
07 - Continuing Up, Up, Up
There are 4 CCC Shelters along the way if you need a rest!!
08 - One of Four Trail Shelters built by CCC08a - CCC Sign
It is a lovely climb through the Rhododendron and Rocks:o))
09 - Still going Up but getting closer
10 - Amazing Rocks and Rhodadendrum 10b - Rhodadendrum
Finally, the stone bridge above us!!
11 - Last few steps and Natural Bridge is Overhead 11b - Natural Bridge Overhead

Click on any photo to enlarge or hover your mouse on any photo for a description.
To get to the top of Natural Bridge, you must tackle Fat Man’s Squeeze!!12 - Fat Man's Squeeze stairs to top of Natural Bridge12b - Fat Man's Squeeze passageway to top of Natural Bridge
The Natural Bridge is much wider than we expected.
Even Bill, who has a healthy respect for heights, was willing to walk across!!
13 - Bill on top and in the middle of Natural Bridge
The view from the top was spectacular!!
14 - View to West from Top of Natural Bridge15 - View Lookout Point on Laurel Ridege from Top of Natural Bridge
If you walk all the way across Natural Bridge,
 16 - Continuing across Top of Natural Bridge17 - Heading along Laurel Ridge Trail
you will reach Laurel Ridge Trail (#6) which takes you past the Skylift.
17a - Laurel Ridge Trail - Sky Lift17b - Laurel Ridge Trail - Sky Lift
The Skylift doesn’t open until 10am. 
So far, we haven’t met another person on the trails!!
We continued farther out Laurel Ridge Trail to Lookout Point.
17c - Laurel Ridge Trail - Continuing to Lookout Point
View of Natural Bridge from Lookout Point
17d - Laurel Ridge Trail - View of Natural Bridge from Lookout Point17e - Laurel Ridge Trail - View of Natural Bridge from Lookout Point - Zoomed In17f - Laurel Ridge Trail - Bill and Nancy at Natural Bridge from Lookout Point
From here,
we back-tracked on Laurel Ridge Trail and crossed back over Natural Bridge
to find the Balance Rock Trailhead (#2) to hike back down.
18 - Balance Rock Trailhead
We read that this was the steepest trail,
but the scenery made the hike DOWN, DOWN, DOWN so worth it!!!
I’ll just let the photos do the talking:o))
18b - Balance Rock Heading Down 18c - Balance Rock Heading Down
Click on any photo to enlarge or hover your mouse on any photo for a description.
18d - Balance Rock Heading Down  18e - Balance Rock Heading Down
18f2 - Balance Rock- along the cliff wall  18f - Balance Rock- along the cliff wall
18g - Balance Rock- down more stairs  18h - Balance Rock- down more stairs
18i - Balance Rock- along the White Cliffs
19 - Balance Rock-  19b - Balance Rock- from below
20 - I called this Sponge Rock
21 - Down to the caves21b - Down to the caves21c - Down to the caves

Can’t wait for the NEXT hike:o))

Mother Nature sure is Amazing!!!


  1. Very nice, but oh those ups and downs! :)

    How is the temperature there this time of year?

    1. Hey Karen, This is our 7th day here and we have had lows from 55 to 73 and highs from 75 to 89. Speaking with neighbors, they said it was in the 100s this time last year. So I guess the answer is... It Depends;o)) So far it has been good for early day hikes and warmer afternoon car tours!!

  2. Wonderful to have the hike all to yourselves. Beautiful place.

  3. Wow Nancy you did it AGAIN!! What a beautiful spot. And to have it all to yourselves....fantastic! Great pictures.

  4. Beautiful hike! Glad to see Bill is back to his old self. Guess nothing slows him down :)

  5. Kentucky is another beautiful state that I never knew anything about until we started working at Amazon :-). I like the down down down part of your hike the best :-)))!!

  6. Nice that the down part of your hike was on the return leg for a change! :c)

  7. Great hike! What a great natural bridge. Glad to see Bill's feeling better :-)

  8. Absolutely beautiful! Lookalike a great hike!

  9. We were there in January of 2013 and it was chilly but wonderful. I loved having the trails to myself and even though it was cold it was warmer than Wisconsin! It was a "girls" trip and we rented one of the cabins. They are not so great.