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First Creek Trail



6.7 mile 10.8 kilometer point to point
95% Runnable


Ascent: 645' 197 m
Descent: -649' -198 m
High: 920' 280 m
Low: 529' 161 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 17% (9°)


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Trail shared by Clinton Lewis

A winding trail through old-growth Kentucky forest.

Clinton Lewis

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife


This point-to-point trail ascends a ridgeline before a holler-worthy drop down to First Creek Lake. The trail is all singletrack with several creek crossings. Only one rocky, downhill section around mile 2.5, the rest is awesome trail traveling through one of the best sections of the park.

Need to Know

Several small creek crossings. The trail can get sloppy around the First Creek Lake, so be prepared to wade through a few sections after a lot of rain. Watch for horse manure.

Runner Notes

As with all trails at Mammoth Cave, this is a multi-use trail with horses and other runners. Watch for horse droppings.


Starting at the First Creek Trailhead at the north end of Houchens Ferry Road, the point-to-point singletrack trail heads south along a ridgeline crossing several creeks and the First Creek Lake.

Beginning on an old fire road, the trail narrows and quickly ascends a ridge along the edge of the park boundary. Rolling hills are abundant above the karst geography of Southern Kentucky, so dig in and enjoy! The most difficult section is around mile 2.5 with a short (~25 yard) rocky downhill.

The two campsites at the lake are popular, so it can be busy during the peak summer months. Once you are around the lake, hang a left at the small sign for a short and moderately steep climb to the Temple Hill Trailhead on Houchens Ferry Road.

There is ample parking at either trailhead to drop a vehicle or the road is a pleasant walk to cool down.

History & Background

Mammoth Cave National Park was established in 1941 to protect the unparalleled underground labyrinth of caves, the rolling hilly country above, and the Green River valley. Since then, ongoing study and exploration have shown the park to be far more complex than ever imagined, hosting a broad diversity of species living in specialized and interconnected ecosystems. The park's challenge is to balance these remarkable and sometimes fragile living networks with the public's enjoyment of them. The key to that balance is knowledge, and the park's new environmental monitoring programs will provide that understanding.

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Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 4 votes


in North Side


  3.8 from 4 votes
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51 Views Last Month
2,422 Since Apr 8, 2015



Climbing up one of the ridges of the First Creek Trail
Apr 8, 2015 near Brownsv…, KY
Navigating one of the creek crossings just above the technical, rocky descent at the 2.5-mile mark.
Apr 8, 2015 near Brownsv…, KY
First Creek Lake
Apr 8, 2015 near Brownsv…, KY
Great scenery... on the First Creek Trail
Apr 8, 2015 near Brownsv…, KY
Beginning section of First Creek Trail
Apr 8, 2015 near Brownsv…, KY
This is the worst of the technical sections on First Creek Trail. Short, but steep & rocky.
Apr 8, 2015 near Brownsv…, KY


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