Our last adventure was in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. Our next adventure took use just a couple of hours north to Lexington, Kentucky, home of the University of Kentucky and, more importantly, our son.
While in Lexington, Ben, our son, took us on a foodie tour of the town. Lexington has many excellent restaurants that offer delicious food. One of our top choices was County Club on Jefferson Street in an older part of the city. This restaurant is known for its smoked meats and boasts a warm atmosphere in a rustic setting--great food, great service! The menu is unique and relies on locally-sourced foods. They describe themselves as having “BBQ made from Kentucky-raised meat & contemporary American comfort grub offered in rustic-chic digs.” They were just too modest to tell you that it is soooooo good!!!
Our other favorite was Windy Corner Market, located just a few minutes outside of Lexington in the middle of horse farms. This place was very busy but worth the drive and the wait! The view of the thoroughbreds grazing was worth the drive alone, and the food just sealed the deal. Everything is fresh and homemade with quality ingredients served in a country store setting. I would highly recommend both of these restaurants when in Lexington.
Some other places we visited included Josie’s for breakfast--brilliant choice--and Bear and the Butcher. Pazzo's Pizza, just off the UK campus, had excellent food but slow service, but was still worth the visit. I have to give a shout-out to the guys at Casual Pint. These guys offer great hospitality in a casual, convenient location. If you’re looking for a good craft beer or just a place to chill, go see the good people at Casual Pint. Tell them Ben’s parents sent you!
Our actual outdoorsy adventure took us to Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Slade, KY, located in the Red River Gorge area. (https://parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/natural-bridge/) Within an hour’s drive from Lexington, you can do some easy to moderate hiking on well-maintained trails and see amazing scenery. It was the Natural Bridge which drew us, and apparently everyone else in Kentucky, to the park. The trails are in general .5 to 2 miles long and, though some require a good bit of stair climbing, take you through beautiful forest and interested geological formations.
Make sure to go to the Natural Bridge itself, which you can walk across. Sit for a spell and take in the view from the top of the arch and look out towards Lookout Point. Take the trail to the bottom of the arch and see the views there including a one-lane trail that cuts through the middle of a rock. From the top of the arch, easy trails take you to Lover’s Leap and to Lookout Point.
We hiked about five miles total in the park meandering our way through the connecting trails often not sure which trail we were actually on but enjoying the views. My favorite trail was Devil’s Gulch. This trail required climbing many, many stairs right up the gullet of a rock wall. Some of the stairs were cut into the rock itself and were steep. There were handrails and such to keep you from sliding back down the rock, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Because this is a bit more challenging and not one of the most popular trails, there were fewer fellow hikers.
If we were to go back to Natural Bridge, we would take advantage of the lodge, restaurant, and gift shop there. An overnight stay in such beautiful surroundings would be a great break for anyone coming from Louisville or Lexington. We could also have taken the skylift from a parking lot to the the trails at the top of the arch, which would make most trails accessible without so much climbing of stairs.
Ever been to the Natural Bridge in Kentucky? Let us know about your experiences. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Have a park that we just HAVE to visit? Let us know! We're always looking for an adventure!