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blueBlack Hood Branch Loop

  4.6 ( 8 )

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Trail

4.0 mile 6.4 kilometer point to point
Singletrack
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 635' 194 m
Descent: -614' -187 m
High: 1,272' 388 m
Low: 783' 239 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 48% (26°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Map Key

Trail shared by Chris Chaney

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

Chris Chaney

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.

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Check-Ins

Jan 1, 2019
Carleton Sloan
4mi
Jan 1, 2019
Katelin Palmer
4mi
Jan 1, 2019
Owen Palmer
4mi
Oct 9, 2018
Arielle Burnett
Great afternoon spent with my fiancé! The trail was beautiful and had lots of variety. The views from the clifftops were spectacular. I’m engaged!!… 5mi
Jul 25, 2018
Adam Ronchetti
Apr 22, 2018
Marc Lain
4mi
Mar 22, 2018
Austin Marangoni
Mar 4, 2018
Brian Charles
Great trail. Very peaceful once you get past all the Natural Bridge tourist. Can be narrow in some spots. 4mi — 4h 00m

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 8 votes

#1168

Overall
  4.6 from 8 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
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3 Star
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1 Star
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Rankings

#14

in Kentucky

#1,168

Overall
120 Views Last Month
2,346 Since Jul 5, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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