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Hood Branch Loop

Difficult
 4.6 (11) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Hood Branch is an incredible hike with a challenging climb to begin and stunning scenery.


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Map Key

4.0

Miles

6.4

KM

Point to Point

1,272' 388 m

High

783' 239 m

Low

635' 194 m

Up

614' 187 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

48%

Max Grade (26°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Natural Bridge State Resort Park regulations apply and this is also a state nature preserve. On weekends and holidays, the Rock Garden Trail West and the area around the arch can be congested with hikers.

Overview

The Hood Branch Loop has it all: stiff climbing, technical rock gardens, and nice flowy singletrack in a backwoods setting. It also takes you past the impressive Natural Bridge.

The Low Gap Trail and Rock Garden Trail West get high traffic, but the Hood Branch Trail is a nice change from the crowds of the state park.

Description

Begin at the Sky Lift Parking Lot. Tackle the beastly Low Gap Trail to gain Rock Garden Trail West. From Low Gap head right (south) toward Natural Bridge. Continue up through some insanely steep stairs (think Stairs of Cirith Ungol) that will make you think twice about returning the same way.

At the top of the rock steps the grade eases and you can settle into picking your line through rocks and roots along the edge of a cliff with a few smooth sections interspersed. You'll breathe a sigh of relief when you see the big arch ahead of you.

Look for the Hood Branch Trail just before being forced into a narrow passage (Fat Man's Misery). Hood Branch Trail is a nice quiet trail with some great views in wintertime of the surrounding cliffs. It winds back to the trailhead.

Flora & Fauna

All kinds of flora are visible along the trail. Watch out for copperheads and rattlesnakes. Bears have been spotted in the area and likely travel the further reaches of this trail and Sand Gap Trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Chris Chaney

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 11 votes

#944

Overall
  4.6 from 11 votes
5 Star
73%
4 Star
18%
3 Star
9%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#7

in Kentucky

#944

Overall
117 Views Last Month
3,461 Since Jul 5, 2015
Difficult

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Photos

Sunrise from Natural Bridge
Jul 6, 2015 near Campton, KY
Natural Bridge
Jul 9, 2015 near Campton, KY
Walkway to Natural Bridge
Jul 9, 2015 near Campton, KY
View from Natural Bridge
May 10, 2018 near Campton, KY
View under Natural Bridge from Original Trail
Nov 24, 2017 near Campton, KY
Outcropping near lovers leap off hood branch trail with an outstanding view of the valley below.
Nov 6, 2017 near Campton, KY

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Check-Ins

Oct 2, 2020
Elinore Fancypants
4mi
Sep 27, 2020
Brant Schulz
Sep 12, 2020
Johanna Erbe
Aug 8, 2020
Kyle Johnston
7mi
Oct 26, 2019
Chris Lowe
Sep 15, 2019
Kyle Johnston
1mi — 0h 57m
Jun 23, 2019
Kevin Callahan
Jan 1, 2019
Carleton Sloan
4mi