By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
Cumberland Falls State Park is gearing up for its 2014 hiking season, and it will begin on the very first day of the year.
Jan. 1 is the day of a New Year’s hike through Blue Bend. It’s approximately four-and-a-half miles and is rated easy to moderate in difficulty. Hikers will go through the nature preserve to see treated Hemlocks, learn how the trees are doing and learn about local history.
Pam Gibson said there will be a few surprises along the way, and advised hikers to “prepare to get dirty.”
The hike leaves DuPont Lodge at 9:30 a.m. Hikers are advised to dress for the weather, and to bring lunch and a camera.
The next hike is on Jan. 4, and hikers will leave DuPont Lodge at 9:30 a.m. The journey is expected to be moderate to difficult, and is roughly five and three-quarter miles long.
The hike will take participants from Moonbow Trail to Trail 2 along the Cumberland River, then through Trail 11. Hikers will get to see what mosses are “up and looking for love.” Gibson said that this hike will offer a glimpse at some of the brightest colors of the season.
Hikers are advised to bring lunch, a camera, water and to dress for the weather.
February’s hike will take place on Feb. 1 at 9:30 a.m. This hike will be four-and-a-half miles long and will be moderate to difficult. Gibson said that this hike is “no walk in the park” but says the scenery is worth the difficult trek. The hike will depart from DuPont Lodge and go through Bowman Ridge loop.
“Be prepared to learn what a wilderness trail is like. You will be one of the chosen few who experience and enjoy the peace and quiet of one of Kentucky’s greatest wilderness areas,” Gibson said.
Hikers are advised to bring lunch, water, a small personal first aid kit, camera and to dress for the weather. Leave No Trace ethics will be discussed on this hike. Shuttle and car pooling are available and hikers will be leaving the lodge at 10 a.m. sharp.
On March 1, a special hike will take place.
“Arch hunt will take us to Whitley County looking for one of our state’s natural treasures,” Gibson said.
This hike has an extra special opportunity as an ASL interpreter will be present for deaf hikers. The hike begins at 9:30 a.m. at DuPont Lodge. Hikers are advised to bring lunch, snack, a camera, water and to be prepared for the weather. A van and car pooling will be available.
April 5 will see a five-mile hike that is easy to moderate in difficulty. Hikers will meet at DuPont Lodge at 9:30 a.m. The hike will take participants through Natural Arch Loop. The route will pass under McCreary County’s Natural Arch and hikers will learn how this area was formed underwater. Hikers are advised to look for petrified wood along the trail, and Gibson said the wildflowers along this trail are outstanding.
“This is an opportunity to improve your mind along with your health,” Gibson said.
Hikers are advised to bring a camera, an extra pair of socks, water, lunch and a snack. Hikers should also dress for the weather.
May 3 will be the beginning of Spring Wildflower Walks, which will be offered for three days. For this set of hikes, Cumberland Falls State Park will partner with McCreary Tourism, McCreary County Hikers, Big Southfork River and Recreation Area, and the U.S. National Forest Service.
Friday, May 3, will feature a nature program offered at a $5 charge. Contact Tara Chaney at 606-376-3008 for reservations.
Saturday, May 4, will feature a hike that meets at DuPont Lodge at 8:30 a.m. Hikers will shuttle and car pool to the location of the hike to Yahoo Falls.
On Sunday, May 5, hikers will meet at DuPont Lodge at 8:30 a.m. to hike the three forks of Beaver Trail. Hikers are advised to bring lunch, water, a camera and to dress for the weather.
June 7 is the National Trails Day Hike. This hike will go through Gobblers Arch trail. Hikers will meet at 8:30 a.m. at DuPont Lodge. Located In McCreary County, this trip will require participants to shuttle and car pool. Hikers need to leave on time. The hike is moderate to strenuous and hikers will get their feet wet. Gibson said the scenery will include incredible rock faces, sheer cliffs, and an overlook that sees from one side of the gorge to the other. According to Gibson, small children will have to be watched carefully as there are very steep places. Pets must be leashed at times. Hikers will picnic in a rock shelter as big as DuPont Lodge. Gibson said that along the way there’s a 60-foot waterfall. Hikers are advised to bring lunch, water, snack, camera, and to dress for the weather. This is an all-day trip. Gibson said hikers will also stop on the way back at a local hot spot for a snack to celebrate.
July 5 will see a hike that begins at 8:30 a.m. at DuPont Lodge. The hike goes through Trail 2 and Cumberland Falls River Trail. Gibson said this hike is 6.3 miles of river and ridges. Along the way is a visit to Bunches Creek for a quick dip and lunch. Gibson said hikers will have the opportunity to see some amazing river scenery. Gibson said there are plans to make a stop at the Firetower along the way. Hikers are advised to bring water, lunch, a camera, and a snack.
The Celebrate America’s Birthday Hike will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 2 at DuPont Lodge. The hike goes along Eagle Falls, which according to Gibson is the number one trail in Kentucky. Gibson said this hike is a great leg stretcher, and hikers will work up an appetite upon returning for a lunch at the Riverview Restaurant to enjoy America’s Birthday. Hikers are advised to bring water and wear comfortable clothes.
An easy to moderate hike on Sep. 6 at 8:30 a.m. will begin at DuPont Lodge. Hikers will travel five miles through Yahoo Arch to Yahoo Falls. Car pooling and shuttling are required. According to Gibson, this is an opportunity to enjoy the highest falls in Kentucky along with two good arches. Hikers will also learn what rare and endangered plants and animals make this area their home. Gibson said many stairs are on this hike. Hikers are advised to bring lunch, water, a snack and a camera.
On Oct. 4 at 8:30 a.m. a hike will begin at DuPont Lodge and go through Lick Creek Falls and Princess Falls. This moderate to difficult hike is around six miles.This hike requires car pooling and shuttling. Hikers will trek along the river to Princess Falls. There, hikers will rest before moving on to Lick Creek Falls. Gibson said this is pretty special as few hike this trail. Hikers are advised to bring extra socks, a camera, water, a snack, lunch and to dress for the weather. Gibson said leaves should be on show at this time. Hikers will also stop at a local eatery on the way back as a surprise treat.
On Nov. 1 at 8:30 a.m. a hike will start at DuPont Lodge and take hikers through the Three Forks of Beaver to Bowman Ridge. This difficult hike is about 5.4 miles long, but Gibson says it is “worth every step.” Hikers will see beautiful blue pools and watch animal life where humans are rare. Hikers are advised to bring water, camera, lunch, and dress for the weather. Gibson requests hikers not bring their dogs taken for this trip. Hikers will be able to learn about the local history of both two legged and four legged characters here.
Dec. 6 will see a hike begin at 9 a.m. at DuPont Lodge. This hike goes through the 3C trail. It is about two and a half miles and is an easy journey. Hikers will be eating at the Riverview Restaurant for lunch after the hike is finished. Gibson tells hikers to “come enjoy good conversation, great company and a year’s worth of hikes under your reduced belt line.” Hikers are advised to bring water and a camera. Gibson says she has a few surprises for participants on this hike.
Gibson said that if a person has taken every hike in 2014 they will have trekked 50 miles.