Natural Bridge and Battleship Rock Trail

MODERATE 248 reviews
#1 of 10 trails in

Natural Bridge and Battleship Rock Trail is a 3.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Slade, Kentucky that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from January until November.

DISTANCE
3.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,190 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

This trail was built in the 1880s by the Lexington and Eastern Railroad. It is the most popular trail for hiking to the Natural Bridge. Beginning near the gift shop, the trail gently climbs .25 mile to the trailhead behind Hemlock Lodge. From here, you will see the steepest part of the trail before you, but at the top of the limestone steps it levels off. There are five trail shelters along this trail, three of which were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. The trail climbs over 400-feet through an impressive forest of hemlock, tulip tree, white pine, and thickets of rhododendron. It ends beneath the span of the Natural Bridge. Access to the top of the bridge is through a natural fracture on the other side of the arch. Elevation change of 420 feet.

11 days ago

Nice view at the top but you will be ascending quite a bit.

14 days ago

We thought this would be an easy going loop to finish up a nice weekend but the trails are super confusing. There is not that „one loop“ we ended up doing several loops and crossing paths we did before and had to take some trails twice. There are definitely nice views but the trail system seemed like a maze.

hiking
22 days ago

We enjoyed hiking in Natural Bridge State Park. The Original Trail was a nice hike, easily done after dinner with 4 boys, ages 4-12. the views were amazing. There were very few others around when we took the after dinner hike on a Monday evening, however Tuesday afternoon there were lots of people around. It never fails that there's a few fools trying to become a statistic in front of your kids... That's unfortunate.

On Tuesday we hiked the longer way, crossed the Natural Bridge and on to Lover's Leap, then down Devil's Gulch. It was more great scenery. there was one section where we were walking on the edge for 50 feet, but not bad - just keep kids by the hand.

hiking
26 days ago

Good hike with a cool finish. The bridge is awesome and you can even hike around to see it from afar as well. Lots of side views to explore, and none of it was too difficult.

1 month ago

Did the original trail this past Saturday. Good trail. Not very long and good elevation gain. Trail was very busy with hikers because of the great weather.

hiking
1 month ago

This is one of the most beautiful places in Kentucky!........I heard that from an experienced Ohio hiker as well as a Kentucky native who hikes all over the state. Needless to say, I had to go. Once you arrive at State Park Lodge parking area, there are several hiking trails leading up to the Natural Bridge and all are short (less than a mile) located at the trailheads behind the lodge. We chose to take the "Original Trail" to the Battleship Rock Trail (one bridge out; however, you can easily get around it), up the Devil's Gulch Stairway, a side trek to Lover's Leap (well worth the extra 20 minute round trip), and back onto the trail leading atop the bridge. There is a sign at the end of the bridge showing you the way to under the bridge or another side trek to Balanced Rock. Unfortunately, we did not have time to do this trek due to it getting dark. From there, you can take the main trail back to the trailhead.

I would say most people will be able to hike this trail. Elders & inexperienced hikers should not take the Devil's Gulch Stairway as it is steep and one wrong mis-step would end it all. By staying on the "Original Trail" the entire way, most should be able to maneuver it without any troubles.

For me, this was an easy "5-star" hiking area. There are a lot of things to do in this area and next time I will plan to stay at least 3-4 days.
Enjoy!

1 month ago

battleship had a bridge out. not good with kids, which I had 2

hiking
1 month ago

Good views from the top. Would definitely consider this an easy-moderate hike

hiking
2 months ago

The original trail was full of people on the way up and pretty easy - lots of steps and places to rest. We took Battleship on the way down and saw no one. One bridge is still out (like a previous commenter said) but passable with some scrambling. There weren't any signs indicating the bridge being out either. Worth it though!

2 months ago

The original trail is wide and easily navigated with children. The walk does climb and can wind you. Don’t take the Battleship up or back with small children. The stairs can be steep and a small footbridge is destroyed by a fallen tree but passable.

hiking
3 months ago

We went the opposite of this trail and went battleship rock to natural bridge. We liked it much more because the battleship rock trail to start is more natural and is an amazing forest setting. Good geologic features mark the whole trail and it challenged us well. Would definitely do this trail again.

hiking
3 months ago

This was a beautiful place to hike. We took the harder trail that about killed us but so glad we did. Making memories is what it’s about.

hiking
3 months ago

First time hiker and these views and the Natural Bridge has me hooked.

4 months ago

took the OG up and to the lodge on the way back down. wasn't as natural on the way up or down but the views are still worth it.

hiking
4 months ago

This trail was beautiful! Hiked with a group of friends and really enjoyed the scenery. As soon as it gets tiring you are rewarded with awesome views!

hiking
5 months ago

Took the OG trail to the top of the bridge and came back down Needle’s Eye. Beautiful views!

hiking
6 months ago

Took the OG trail up and Devil's Gluch back down. Enjoyed every bit of it.

7 months ago

Good trail and well maintained. I enjoyed reading about the history of the park and the views are beautiful! However, it's not a trail I would come back to to do it again. It wasn't as natural as I would like (railings, tons of steps, pebbles to outline the trail, etc.).

hiking
8 months ago

Easy trail with some scenic views, probably nicest in the fall. Definitely can see it getting crowded then as well. Was hard to figure out the optimal route but it's all pretty short and easy with wide, well maintained trails so it didn't really matter.

9 months ago

Awesome Trails!! Amazing views and awesome overlooks of the beautiful mountains.

9 months ago

Nice moderate trail. The skylift is the best way to get to the top of the natural bridge. I walked and due to the one-lane nature of the climb to the top it was a long wait. Was really busy even on a Thursday. If you don't want to ride the lift, I suggest the OG trail to battleship rock trail, then branch off to the laurel ridge trail(by the devils gulch). Will take you up to the top of the natural bridge without having to pass the one lane stairs.

hiking
9 months ago

Rode the sky lift up and came down the trail. Steep in some areas but nice scenery!

hiking
11 months ago

Went up on Natural Bridge trail, forest well maintained, lots of Hikers on the trail. Came back on Battleship Rock Trail which was not well maintained and forest here was very weedy with lots of poison ivy growing over Trail.

hiking
11 months ago

Really awesome scenery! A must when you come to the gorge!

11 months ago

The views from this trail are beautiful. This trail is best in the fall. Children should not be unattended on the trail.

11 months ago

Beautiful Trails

hiking
11 months ago

Beautiful trails!!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Thought it was really beautiful. A little crowded though

Saturday, August 05, 2017

perfect day.

hiking
Sunday, July 30, 2017

Had a great time hiking today took Battleship Rock Trail up towards the bridge. We went up Devil's Gulch staircase(very steep for the lil ones) to cross Natural Bridge. We went down the Original Trail to get back to Hemlock Lodge.

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