Knobby Rock Trail is a 1.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Wallins Creek, Kentucky that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.
The moderate Knobby Rock Loop includes a large sandstone rock outcrop with a birds eye view of the mountains. Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve is located in southeastern Kentucky approximately five miles west of the city of Harlan. www.knlt.org/docs/BlantonForestbrochure_color.pdf Before heading out on your hike, please take a moment to orient yourself to the trail system. A trail map is located in the kiosk in the KNLT parking lot. Please note that all trails are open to foot traffic only. To protect fragile resources and for your own safety, visitors must remain on the designated trails at all times. Please be aware that there are hazardous cliffs along the trails and you may encounter venomous snakes. The preserve is open every day starting at sunrise. It closes at sunset. Darkness closes in quickly once the sun sets. Please allow enough time to complete your hike.
This is a nice little trail system. If you are just hiking up to Knobby Rock, it's a relatively brief and straight forward climb. The sandstone erosion gives the appropriately named overlook its unique, lunar appearance - never seen anything quite like it.
While I can recommend Knobby Rock for children, the loop around the Maze and the Sand Cave is far more technical and potentially hazardous. If approached counter-clockwise (starting opposite from the steps leading up to Knobby Rock) the loop ascends steadily up and along the base of the rock to an even larger formation that comprises the Maze and cave. The former is a labyrinth of corridors which can require some maneuvering. Much of it is dark and I found myself rapping on the rocks to listen for rattlers. The yellow blazes for the trail are particularly helpful in navigating through it. If you have been to the Sand Cave in nearby Ewing, VA, the one here is relatively modest by comparison - neither a cave, nor particularly sandy.
The remainder of the loop is the most challenging part - a very steep descent down the base of the formation along its east side. One would do well to bring a trekking pole and wear boots with suitable ankle support for managing this segment.
Off the radar and worth a look - for the towering hemlocks alone!!
Knobby Rock Loop is a well maintained trail in a nature preserve. The preserve features an old growth forest of huge hemlock trees. The trail up to Knobby Rock has a bit of elevation gain but isn't terribly strenuous. The rock itself is a huge expanse that offers great views. There is another loop, Sand Cave Loop, that can be accessed from near the top of Knobby Rock Loop. Combining these to make a figure 8 loop will increase the trip mileage to about 5.5 miles.