Easy bobtail getaway: Ky.’s Natural Bridge State Park

| July 29, 2013
Natural Bridge shot from below
The sandstone formation of the “natural bridge” at Natural Bridge State Park in Ky., seen from below.
View from the picnic area high up near Natural Bridge.
View from the picnic area high up near Natural Bridge.

Located about 50 miles Southeast of Lexington, Ky., off of State Route 402 lies one of the most beautiful natural parks in the State of Kentucky.  The sandstone arch called “Natural Bridge” has stood for millennia. The arch is 78 feet long, 65 feet high, 12 feet thick and 20 feet wide. Some geologists believe that the stunning natural edifice is at least a million years old. The Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission has set aside 1,188 acres within the park as a nature preserve. This not only protects, but also enhances, the pristine beauty of this Eastern Kentucky marvel.

One of the best things about the park is the fact they have parking for oversize vehicles. A day trip to the area is completely doable in the tractor of a big truck. Coming in from Lexington, there are ample highways and State Routes without weight restrictions. There is a Pilot in Mt. Sterling, as well as several other truck stops listed in the Winchester area, for overnight and trailer parking needs.  Most parking within the park is for daylight hours only, as trails and other amenities close at sundown, and the area can only accommodate tractors, no trailers. Lakeside parking and shelter #2 Mini Golf  parking are amply spaced to accommodate large vehicles.

The beauty of the area is such that you'll enjoy yourself immensely just sitting quietly -- a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the road.
The beauty of the area is such that you’ll enjoy yourself immensely just sitting quietly — a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the road.

However, the park offers a lodge with 35 rooms, 11 cottages, 2 campgrounds, 20 miles of hiking trails, a community swimming pool, minigolf, pedal boats, two gift shops, and a restaurant. It has four picnic shelters, two other picnicking areas, and a 50-acre lake that allows fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. If you stay as a guest in the lodge you can also park there for the duration of your stay, or if you want to rent a campsite you can do that as well, and leave your vehicle parked overnight in the designated areas. The staff of naturalists offers nature and recreational programs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and special events throughout the year.

The main trail to the Natural Bridge is easily navigated, although it’s pretty much an uphill climb all the way. The paths are well-marked and wide, and able to accommodate heavy traffic during summer months without feeling crowded. There is a large picnic shelter at the top with a stunning view of the rest of the park. Some of the passageways are pretty narrow — claustrophobic people can avoid most of these paths, as there are several ways in and out.

Park facilities are clean and well-appointed. It’s nice to have a swimming pool available, as well as a lake to fish in.