Bad Branch Falls – High Rock Trail

Bad Branch Falls Nature Preserve

  • address KY-932, Eolia, KY 4082637.0692269-82.7608634

Bad Branch Falls, with it’s beautiful trail and enchanting 60 ft. waterfall, is a Letcher County treasure. It is a must see for visitors wanting to explore our area. The hike to Bad Branch Falls is a little over a mile (one way) and takes close to 2.5 hours at a leisurely pace. The trail will take you through an old timber haul road that was built in the 30’s or 40’s.
This hike is a categorized as a moderate hike because it requires climbing over rocks and walking around small ledges. During the winter, there is usually ice along the trail which can also make hiking somewhat dangerous. Most people that can walk one mile should not have any trouble. 
The scenery to the falls is breathtaking, including high sandstone cliffs, giant hemlock pines and many different types of rock formations. If you want something a little more challenging, there is an option to take the High Rock Loop Trail, a little over 2 mile hike to the crest of Pine Mountain. This trail joins in with the Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail - which will stretch over 110 miles when completed.

Photo credit- Letcher County Tourism

Carter Caves State Resort Park

  • address 344 Caveland dr, Olive Hill, KY 41164

Beneath the forested hills of this resort, nature has hidden many twisting caverns. This park offers lodge rooms, cottages, camping, mini golf and cave tours. 

On July 31, 1946, the citizens of Carter and surrounding counties donated 945 acres to the Commonwealth of Kentucky for a state park. Contained in this tract are some of the most impressive caves in the state. Additional land has been obtained, making a total of some 2,000 acres. Carter and Cascade Caves are the best-known caverns in eastern Kentucky. Located in north-central Carter County, the Carter and Cascade Cave system is comprised of more than 20 caverns. Four of these caves are open for tours. Others are undeveloped or access is limited. Each cave has distinctive features reflecting geological forces.

Bat Cave is the largest cave in the park. It is open only in the summer and is the home of an estimated 40,000 Indiana bats called Myotis that hibernate there in the winter. These bats are protected by the Kentucky Parks System. The caves main passageway is a half-mile long and follows the course of Cave Branch. The ceiling of the passageway varies in height from about 35 feet at the downstream entrance to a claustrophobic 4 feet. Known as Backache Avenue, the low ceiling of the passageway extends 700 feet. This passage is wet and there are small pools of water throughout its length. During heavy rains the passage can be flooded by torrents of water.

Saltpetre Cave is a dry cave. No streams flow through these passages today. Evidence suggests that water did flow through the cave many years ago. The cave has long, broad, low-ceilings and dirt floors. The name of the cave comes from the old saltpeter works near the entrance that helped produce gunpowder during the War of 1812. Kentucky caverns had several saltpeter mines during the war. Nitrates for making gunpowder could be extracted from the earth in the caves. On the wall near the entrance is the legend, Simon Kenton 1783. Kenton, an early Kentucky pioneer, explored the area in the late eighteenth century. Saltpetre Cave is shown to visitors by guided tour.

The most popular cave for visitors in the Carter Cave system is X Cave, so-called f or the two intersecting caverns that from the letter X. Narrow and tall passageways permeate the X Cave. The walls of the cavern have been carved by water. X Cave is filled with beautiful and strange forms. Stalactites and stalagmites are found along the right passage of the cave. Columns, draperies, and flowstone created by centuries of water percolating through earth and stone, decorate portions of the cavern. Giant Stalactite is the largest dripstone formation in the cave. This formation of several stalactites is seven feet in diameter and about30 feet high. Another curiosity is Pipe Organ. This formation is unique in that several stalactites and draperies, when struck with a piece of wood, sound different tones, thus giving it its musical instrument name.

Fish Pond Lake

Fish Pond Lake

  • address 475 Fish Pond Dr, Jenkins, KY 4153737.1596623-82.6773092

Fish Pond Lake is a gorgeous vista. Nestled in the woods of the Central Appalachian mountains this park provides beautiful scenery, good fishing, camping, photo ops hiking and more

Flag Rock/High Knob Recreational Area

Flag Rock/ High Knob

  • address Flag Rock Road, Norton, Virginia 2427336.915362-82.6313869

Flag Rock Recreation Area is located three miles above downtown Norton on the lower slopes of High Knob. The thousand-acre park includes 25 developed acres and a variety of outdoor adventures. Please note restroom facilities in the park are open seasonally. Restrooms are open when Flag Rock Campground is open during the spring and fall months. Opening dates for the campground and restrooms are dependent on the weather. 

Greenbo Lake State Park

  • address 965 lodge rd, greenup, KY 4114438.4806178-82.8732108

Perfect your putting on the 18-hole miniature golf course in the camping area, open April-October. The hiking trails provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy the scenery of the beautiful Greenbo forest. Self-guided trails provide 33 miles of easy to difficult hiking. Tennis and basketball courts are located in the park and sports equipment may be checked out by overnight guests. Daily summer activities and year-round special events for children and adults are planned under the guidance of a trained recreation director. Greenbo Lake's 225 acres are home to two state largemouth bass records! The lake also holds large bluegill, crappie, catfish, and trout. The marina, open April-October, offers 65 open slips and rental pontoon boats, row boats, canoes, and motor boats. A fishing pier and boat ramp for launching boats are open. A swimming pool adjacent to the lodge is for the exclusive use of lodge guests, and a community pool next to the sunning beach features a water slide and a children's area with a rain tree (open during the summer).

Jenkins Lake

Little Elkhorn Lake

  • address KY-3086, Jenkins, KY 4153737.1734372-82.6309892

Man-made lake in Jenkins, KY stocked with Catfish, Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, Grasscarp, Walleye. Beautiful Mountain views and Lakeside dr.

Mars Rock

Mars Rock Overlook

  • address Tower Hill Rd, Eolia, Kentucky 4082637.0775097-82.8079348

Mars Rock is a true anomaly of the Appalachian Mountains. Experience the other worldly terrain right in the heart of the Central Appalachian Mountains. Nestled on top of Pine Mountain, US119 (the Slingshot) Mars rock is truly an unforgettable visit.