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Trail Guides

Exploring The Hidden Sights Of Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Guide to exploring the hidden arches and waterfalls of mammoth cave National Park Kentucky

Known for its incredible 400 miles of underground passageways, Mammoth Cave National Park draws in over 2 million guests each year. While most of them visit the park to take one of the numerous ranger guided cave tours, a select few come to this park for its above-ground gems. The same geological properties responsible for creating the massive cave systems here have also adorned the park with an untold amount of natural arches, bridges, and waterfalls. Hidden out of sight along its 85 miles of back country trails, it is an outdoor adventurers paradise just waiting to be explored.

Mammoth Cave National Park Trail Map

Mammoth Cave National Park Location | Google Maps

A note to would-be hunters; While most people hang up their hiking boots during the bitter cold months of winter, here in Kentucky it is prime time for hunting arches and chasing waterfalls off-trail throughout  the state. Off trail hiking is not for most people as it involves a more developed set of skills to navigate in raw wilderness. Utilizing the use of a map and compass, GPS, and the ability to reference natural landmarks from the outlines of topographical maps all come into play here. Sheer cliffs with life altering drops abound all throughout the park. The best time to see waterfalls are after several successive days of heavy rain, which can also elevate the risk of slipping and falling. While bears are not known to reside in Central Kentucky, Mammoth Cave National Park is home to 23 species of snakes, including the venomous Eastern Copperhead and Timber Rattlesnake. Ticks containing Lyme Disease are also a danger which is why these outings are mostly conducted while the cold weather keeps them at bay. As with any type of outdoor activities, there are many dangers involved with backcountry hiking, but when done right, can lead to a very rewarding experience.

United States department of the interior National park services geotagging Kentucky

Edmonson County, home to Mammoth Cave National Park, ranks 5th among the counties in Kentucky with the largest concentration of arches. With over 200 known and confirmed natural formations, it makes each ravine, hollow, valley, and drainage a prime spot to search for arches and waterfalls. Some of these back country sights even catalogued with rare U.S. Department of Interior badges. Easily accessible resources online can help lead the way to discovering these hidden gems, but there are rules to this fun pastime. Leave No Trace principles are always followed while recreating outdoors, especially in areas without established trails. A lot of these formations are located in ecologically sensitive areas that could be easily be harmed, so it is of the upmost importance to leave these areas better than we found them. Widely publicizing the exact locations of arches and waterfalls is frowned upon due to the unintended consequences it could inspire; mainly vandalism and the destruction of habitat associated with mass visitation. While I wont be mentioning the specific drainages where these features can be found, the images of these magnificent landmarks should be enough fodder to get you started on your own unique adventure. This page will be regularly updated as I discover and document more landmarks. Now to the good stuff!

casper falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Casper Falls

casper falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Casper Falls

grotto falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Grotto Falls

grotto falls and talon cascades waterfalls in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Grotto Falls (Top), Talon Falls/Cascades (Below)

hobbit hole arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Hobbit Hole Arch (also known as Wham!)

hobbit hole arch and grotto falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Peering through Hobbit Hole Arch at nearby Grotto Falls

talon arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Talon Arch

eye socket falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Eye Socket Falls (with Eye Socket Arch in the background)

indian cave prehistoric rock shelter in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Indian Cave

Chasing Off Trail Arches & Waterfalls | Edmonson County, Kentucky Part 1

temple hill twin arches in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Temple Hill Twin Arches

temple hill twin arches in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Inside the cave complex of Temple Hill Twin Arches

Ferguson natural bridge arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Ferguson Natural Bridge

sinkhole above Ferguson natural bridge arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Skylight above Ferguson Natural Bridge (watch your step!)

elephant head arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Elephant Head Arch

rock shelter below elephant head arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Rock shelter below Elephant Head Arch 

cave canyon falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Cave Canyon Falls

close up of cave in cave canyon falls waterfall mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Close up of rock shelter beside Cave Canyon Falls

Chasing Off Trail Arches & Waterfalls Pt. 2 | Edmonson County, Kentucky

pining point falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Pinnix Pocket Falls 

triple arch caves in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Triple Arch (Front View)

cave entrance into triple arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Triple Arch (Rear Cave Entrance)

triple arch cave in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Triple Arch (view of the multiple caverns inside)

narrow arch in canyon within mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Side view of Narrow Arch

opening of narrow arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

View from inside Narrow Arch

cyan falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Cyan Falls

cobalt falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Cobalt Falls

azure cascades waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Azure Cascades

azure falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Azure Falls

pillar falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Pillar Falls

Chasing Off Trail Arches & Waterfalls Pt.3 | Edmonson County, Kentucky

sandstone falls waterfall in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Sandstone Falls

first falls on first creek in mammoth cave national park Kentucky
First Falls
Thank you ma'am arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Thank You Ma'am Arch

Unnamed Arch (Hominy Holes at bottom of picture)

Fishbowl Falls

outside view of eye socket arch in mammoth cave national park Kentucky

Outside View of Eye Socket Arch

Inside View of Eye Socket Arch

Log Jam Falls

 

Chasing Arches & Waterfalls Part.4 | Edmonson County | Kentucky

Asphalt rock pictographs in Edmonson county Kentucky prehistoric rock art
Asphalt Rock Pictographs (nearby area)

Asphalt rock pictographs edmonson county Kentucky prehistoric rock art
Close up of Asphalt Rock Pictographs

Houchins ferry natural arch in mammoth cave National park Kentucky Houchins Ferry Arch

Houchins ferry waterfall mammoth cave National park Kentucky Houchins Ferry Falls

2 comments


  • Hey Nicolas, Kentucky has a substantial arch and waterfalls database found respectively at kywaterfalls.com and kyarches.com. You’ll have to pour over the maps to figure that out for yourself. In my opinion, that’s half the fun. Best of luck!

    Gabe on

  • Hey there! I just discovered your YouTube channel! I really enjoy your videos keep up the great work! I’ve watched the videos of you exploring off trail arches and waterfalls at Mammoth Cave national park in Kentucky. How exactly do you get to the waterfalls and arches. I didn’t know if there was a specific road or area that I needed to be at to go check them out.

    Nicolas Crump on

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