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Author Topic: Best long distance loops in Kentucky  (Read 1194 times)

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Cliftyman

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Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« on: December 28, 2018, 10:15:15 AM »

Hey guys.  I recently fell in with some young hikers that are out of Monticello.  I like hanging around these young guys because they keep me honest (And I also get to show them how the old man still has some sand).  Anyway they are really into long distance hiking.... I mean its long distance to me at least.  I used to be the guy that did a 5-8 mile hike and thought it was pretty good... usually an out and back to some pretty overlook, waterfall, etc.

These guys don't care about any of that.  They just want distance.  I went on a trip from Bark Camp Creek to Cumberland Falls with them back in fall and it was great.... 13 miles one way... would have been even easier if Cumberland Gap wasn't flooded over the trail and we had to change routes and get a ride back from the trailhead up above Dog Slaughter on the ridge.

Anyway they are wanting to do a loop up in Indiana this month... 26 miles total and camp.  I haven't even gotten the particulars yet but I'm thinking its Harrison forest.

Two questions.  I'm a "south of the river" sort of guy, but is Harrison-Forest worth visiting?  Would that be a good destination with some good topography for hiking/camping?

Second question, what are the best loops in Kentucky for 10-15 miles a day?  I can't really think of any big loops that I've been on.  You can string together a bunch of trails in RRG and BSF... but I don't know of many loops.
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genes

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2018, 04:55:28 PM »

Harrison/Crawford is where the Adventure Hiking Trail is located.  At one time I posted a trip report here but not sure if it still exists.  I think that was around 2001.  Finding water sources can be tricky because of the karst geography. I did the entire trail in two days/one night.  Lots of ups and downs.  Can be challenging if you aren't in good shape. Indian Creek and Ohio River overlooks are spectacular.
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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2018, 08:51:53 AM »

Clifty, I found my old trip report and it is from 2002.  I also found my GPS files of the Adventure Hiking Trail.  The GPS files are in .gdb and .gpx formats.  If you want them, I will be glad to send them to you. Reading my original trip report brought back lots of memories.  I had forgotten how difficult that trail was, especially the lack of blazes and water. 
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Gene

Doogal513

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2018, 09:04:55 PM »

Outside of ky but, Dollysods is a great place to do a 25 mile loop.
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ShifuCareaga

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2019, 11:02:36 PM »

Hey guys.  I recently fell in with some young hikers that are out of Monticello.  I like hanging around these young guys because they keep me honest (And I also get to show them how the old man still has some sand).  Anyway they are really into long distance hiking.... I mean its long distance to me at least.  I used to be the guy that did a 5-8 mile hike and thought it was pretty good... usually an out and back to some pretty overlook, waterfall, etc.

These guys don't care about any of that.  They just want distance.  I went on a trip from Bark Camp Creek to Cumberland Falls with them back in fall and it was great.... 13 miles one way... would have been even easier if Cumberland Gap wasn't flooded over the trail and we had to change routes and get a ride back from the trailhead up above Dog Slaughter on the ridge.

Anyway they are wanting to do a loop up in Indiana this month... 26 miles total and camp.  I haven't even gotten the particulars yet but I'm thinking its Harrison forest.

Two questions.  I'm a "south of the river" sort of guy, but is Harrison-Forest worth visiting?  Would that be a good destination with some good topography for hiking/camping?

Second question, what are the best loops in Kentucky for 10-15 miles a day?  I can't really think of any big loops that I've been on.  You can string together a bunch of trails in RRG and BSF... but I don't know of many loops.

Tygart Loop, Carter Caves about 12 mi
Carrington Arch area can be made into a loop, that's in Zilpo
Paintsville Lake WMA is pretty large and next to the state park, so you can probably create a loop.
Mammoth Caves
Land Between the Lakes if you can tolerate all the ATVs...
Seems like Cumberland Gap NHP will have some good options, especially if you modify a trip down to Quadrule Falls and back up. Might be too much....
Beaver Creek WMA should have a lot you can string together.
If you plan it right I bet Jefferson Memorial Forest can fit the bill.
Bad Branch SNP?
You can make the Pine MTN parks and SNPs into loop by hiking down one side of the ridge and back the other side.... And they sort of string together if you look on my map, you can plan it out.
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Cliftyman

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2019, 08:58:22 AM »

Thanks guys.

Gene I'd definitely be interested in reading your TR again, I remember it from days gone by now that you mention it... actually your TR is the only reason I knew what my friend was talking about when he mentioned going up there.  You can PM the text to me if you want.

ShifuCareaga... out of all you mentioned I think that Bad Branch is probably the truest loop.  Probably to the falls, to High Rock and back down... it also made me remember that Blanton Forest has a good loop up to Knobby Rock.

Problem is these guys like to do mileage and I like to sightsee... its going to be hard to find both.  Dolly Sods sounds amazing but that'd be a big undertaking for all us family guys.
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ShifuCareaga

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Mark W

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2019, 05:09:42 PM »

I'd head down to the Big South Fork. There is a great list of hikes on the National Park Service website:
https://www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/popular-overnight-hiking-trails.htm

There is one loop there that is 26 miles and another closer to 30. And another one is around 54 miles.

I've hiked in the Big South Fork many times and a handful of times at Harrison-Crawford State Forest/O'Bannon Woods State Park and done parts of the Adventure Hiking Trail. I think that the Big South Fork is much more scenic, but the overlooks Gene mentioned are nice. It is kind of neat to stay at the shelters on the Adventure Hiking Trail, too.

Any chance you guys would have two vehicles and could just do a shuttle? That would open up a world of possibilities in the BSF, parts of the Sheltowee Trace, and at Mammoth Cave National Park.

If you can make it all the way down to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can put together some really nice loops in the 25-40 mile range.


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genes

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2019, 08:58:31 AM »

Clifty, here is the link to my trip report for the Adventure Hiking Trail.  It is still here in the archives and I had to dig down a bit to find it. 

http://www.kywilderness.com/forum/index.php?page=16

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Cliftyman

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2019, 04:44:13 PM »

I'd head down to the Big South Fork. There is a great list of hikes on the National Park Service website:
https://www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/popular-overnight-hiking-trails.htm

There is one loop there that is 26 miles and another closer to 30. And another one is around 54 miles.

I've hiked in the Big South Fork many times and a handful of times at Harrison-Crawford State Forest/O'Bannon Woods State Park and done parts of the Adventure Hiking Trail. I think that the Big South Fork is much more scenic, but the overlooks Gene mentioned are nice. It is kind of neat to stay at the shelters on the Adventure Hiking Trail, too.

Any chance you guys would have two vehicles and could just do a shuttle? That would open up a world of possibilities in the BSF, parts of the Sheltowee Trace, and at Mammoth Cave National Park.

If you can make it all the way down to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can put together some really nice loops in the 25-40 mile range.

My friends are from the Monticello area so they hike in TN quite a bit.  They have some loop they've put together down around Leatherwood Ford or something that is a regular hike for them.  We aren't above doing a shuttle.  We shuttled on the Sheltowee from Bark Camp Creek to the falls and that was a great 14 mile trip.
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Cliftyman

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2019, 04:44:45 PM »

Clifty, here is the link to my trip report for the Adventure Hiking Trail.  It is still here in the archives and I had to dig down a bit to find it. 

http://www.kywilderness.com/forum/index.php?page=16

Thanks.  I found that link right after I read your last message.
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Cliftyman

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2019, 04:46:02 PM »

8 mi compromise?
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/kentucky/carter-caves-loop-trail

I've never even been close to Carter Caves.  I'm pretty sure its the only part of the state I've never been to, always wanted to go.  Me and my kids may do that one.  8 miles is just a warmup for these guys I'm talking about... they do that before breakfast lol
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genes

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Re: Best long distance loops in Kentucky
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2019, 10:11:53 AM »

Clifty, there is one trip that I have done a number of times in the TN portion of the BSF.  It starts at the Bandy Creek Campground, to Fall Branch Falls, to Grand Gap Loop, to John Muir Trail, to Hatfield Ridge, to Charit Hostel, to Slave Falls, to Sawmill, to West Entrance and back to Bandy Creek. This is about 35 miles with lots of stream crossings.  You can do it in three days and two nights but it is a grueling trip and 4 days and three nights is much more doable. It is one of the most beautiful areas that I have ever backpacked; probably my all time favorite.
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