The Explore Kentucky Must List: Waterfalls (Pt. 1)

Nestled between the bourbon distilleries and horse farms of Kentucky is a landscape of unbridled beauty where far below the soaring mountains and towering natural arches water flows through the tributaries, creeks and rivers.  One would not realize it, but on these many waterways Kentucky has hundreds of waterfalls scattered throughout the state, some are well known, like Cumberland Falls, some are not, like Broke Leg Falls, and some are so remote that if they have been discovered, they’ve been long forgotten.  Please join The Explore Kentucky Initiative as we take a journey on the 1st installment of “The Must List” as we visit five must see Kentucky waterfalls.

#1 Anglin Falls

Photograph by Bill Fultz

Photograph by Bill Fultz

Located 8 miles outside Berea in the John B. Stephenson Memorial Forest & State Nature Preserve, this towering, nearly 75 ft tall waterfall is lesser known gem, that is if it has water on it.  The hike requires a 0.7 mile easy/moderate trek and there are two creek crossings.  If you can cross the creek without getting your feet wet it’s probably not worth the trip as it requires a very good rain to get the falls flowing.  A good time to visit is in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom.  GPS for the waterfall: Latitude 37.497719, Longitude -84.216988, 842 Anglin Falls Rd, McKee Ky.

#2 Flat Lick Falls

Photograph by Christopher Morris

Photograph by Christopher Morris

It was barely known a few years ago, now this Jackson County waterfall in the city of Grey Hawk has become a very popular destination.  With excellent parking facilities and a wheelchair accessible overlook, it’s an easy walk to view the falls.  If you are feeling adventurous, you can cross the creek above the waterfall and follow the trail to the base.  This is truly one of the state’s most scenic, at 33 ft. tall the water plunges into a gorgeous splash pool surrounded by short cliffs and boulders. In heavy rain crossing the creek above the falls is dangerous and should not be attempted.  During drier times it will dry up to a trickle.  GPS for the waterfall: Latitude 37.370941, Longitude -83.940163.

#3 Van Hook Falls

Photograph by Bill Fultz

Photograph by Bill Fultz

The trail to Van Hook Falls through the Cane Creek Wildlife Management Area could seriously contend as the best hike in the state.  At 2.5 miles one way, this moderate trip on a section of The Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail through a hemlock forest passes along a deep slot canyon, and the best part is the destination is the 40 ft tall Van Hook Falls!  One thing to note, like most of the waterfalls on this tour, a recent and decent rain is required to get the most out of this hike and the destination falls. To access the trail, park at the lot at the junction of KY 192 and KY 1193.  Cross the road to the trail head. GPS for the waterfall: Latitude 37.02439769, Longitude -84.28084631

#4 Bark Camp Creek Cascades

Photograph by Bill Fultz

Photograph by Bill Fultz

There are two trails you can access this series of small waterfalls just before Bark Camp Creek’s confluence with the Cumberland River in a truly beautiful setting: the first trail head is located on FR 193 approximately 2 miles from KY 1277 and is a lovely 2.5 mile hike along the creek.  The other trail head is located at the end of FR 551 which is to the right off FR 193 shortly after you drive onto the FR from 1277.  The trail from this point is a little under a mile.  Both trails are moderate. Daniel Boone National Forest, London District. GPS location of the waterfall: Latitude 36.90747865, Longitude -84.3048852.

#5 Dog Slaughter Falls

Photograph by Bill Fultz

Photograph by Bill Fultz

Truly one of the gems of the Kentucky waterfalls, Dog Slaughter Falls is a 1 mile hike from the lower trail head on FR 195, 2.7 miles from KY 90.  The trail is moderate as it follows along the beautiful Dog Slaughter Creek. After looping around a tall cliff line above the falls you’ll drop into a lovely grotto where the 17 ft. tall waterfall plunges into a deep splash pool as it meanders around some large boulders before making it’s final decent to meet with the Cumberland River.  The there is almost always water on the falls throughout all seasons; however during a dry spell the falls can be somewhat unimpressive.  Daniel Boone National Forest, London District GPS for the waterfall: Latitude 36.85880149, Longitude -84.3118579

Now don't worry, I know some of you are saying "where's Cumberland Falls?" or "where's Creation Falls?" but this is only Volume 1.  There's plenty more to come.  The reason these particular waterfalls were chosen for this post is because of their close proximity to one another.  One could visit all these within a day or two, depending on your hiking/driving pace.  Volume 2 will continue with the close proximity of Dog Slaughter Falls with five more nearby waterfalls that will take us into The Big South Fork National Recreation Area and beyond.  Happy waterfalling and keep on Exploring Kentucky!

Photographs by Bill Fultz and Christopher Morris. Bill's website: www.fultzfotos.com. Facebook: www.facebook.com/FultzFotos  Chris's website: www.onemansadventure.com.

Visit the Kentucky Waterfalls website:  www.kywaterfalls.com