Skooter reporting 08/14/12
Few people realize Lexington exists. In fact, Lexington is a wild and natural second-largest city in Kentucky , which is just hours away from its bluegrass music and far from the state’s bourbon trail. Tucked modestly in the southern United States, the state is home to much more than stables and distilleries. Kentucky not only has 52 state parks, more shoreline than Florida and the longest known cave system in the world, it is also a hub for outdoor adventure, especially in the eastern regions of the state.
For its varied and lots of routes, rock climbers from across the globe head to Kentucky, the accommodating climbing culture that has been refined over the years and its unequaled scenery; cascading waterfalls, thick tree canopies and colorful wildflowers make for a pictorial setting when you need a break from scaling the walls.
Located almost entirely within the Daniel Boone National Forest, the world-renowned Red River Gorge which is about 70 miles southeast from Lexington is well thought-out by many aficionado to be the premier rock-climbing destination in the eastern US, in part because there are thousands of climbs perfect for all skill levels. The three cascading waterfalls of Torrent Falls are also located in this part of the state. The waterfalls are popular with climbers who want to carry out the sport of via ferrata, which uses fixed suspended cables and pathways to reach places that are generally out-of-the-way.
Kentucky has hundreds of miles of hiking trails snake across the state, and in the eastern part hikers are treated to mountain landscapes and rocky terrain that match the famous Appalachian Trail. Spreads across 21 counties in southern and eastern Kentucky, we have the Daniel Boone National Forest, which has a number of trails of varying lengths to offer as do many of the state parks in this region. One of the most popular park is the Natural Bridge State Park, it has a number of shorter trails (several less than a mile in length) that offer great views of the 65ft-high sandstone arch that gives the park its name. But those with extra time will find longer, more arduous and just as gratifying hikes on the park’s 7.5-mile Sand Gap Trail, a not easy and usually secluded trail, and the 3.75-mile Hoods Branch Trail, which crosses two small footbridges and follows along the base of cliffs. Do not forget that Kentucky experiences extremes in weather, so be prepared for vicious sun and humidity or rain anytime you hit the trail.
Kentucky is reportedly to have more miles of navigable water than any other state in the lower 48, so there is definitely no shortage of adventure opportunities for water enthusiasts. It is also a great place to get your feet wet if you are not ready to engage in the heart-pounding rapids of the New and Gauley Rivers in neighboring West Virginia. Whether you like kayaking, rafting or prefer something a bit soother such as canoeing, swimming or fishing, use Kentucky’s waterways which are protected under the Kentucky Wild Rivers Act from improper use such as surface mining and construction of dams, as a place to hone your skills or find a craze for the paddle.
Below the 68ft-tall Cumberland Falls, about 110 miles south of Lexington in Cumberland Falls State Park, there are trouble-free places to carry out white water rafting, most of the rapids are Class II or Class III, and the rapids are well set out. The Upper and Lower Blue Licks, are saline springs along the Licking River, an offshoot of the Ohio River in northeastern Kentucky suggest good floating opportunities for canoeists and kayakers, an all-day adventure would cover about 15 miles. Outfitters throughout eastern Kentucky, such as Sheltowee Trace Outfitters, supply gear and boat rental.
To be continued…