“See the best of Mammoth Cave National Park... above ground.”
— Clinton Lewis
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
This has been one of the best-loved trails in the park. Often busy, and recently opened to horses, the lure of the Sal Hollow still is hard to resist.
The 10-mile trail loop utilizes the Sal Hollow Trail
and returns on Buffalo Creek Trail
to the Maple Springs parking lot.
Miles 5-6 feature a sustained, rocky downhill that is especially tough after a rain. It becomes a sloppy mess that will wreck your knees and ankles.
Need to Know
There are many areas of poison ivy and tick activity is heightened in the summer, so bring some bug spray and wet wipes to clean up afterwards.
The Sal Hollow has recently been opened to horses and all the things that come with that. Watch your feet. Several sections of the trail have become very swampy, especially after a rain.
I'm sure miles 5-6 are a blast dry, but I ran just after a rain and it was a sloppy nightmare, and my knee is still recovering.
Set out from the Maple Springs parking lot and begin your adventure by catching the Sal Hollow Trail
to the left. The first few miles are quite enjoyable, with a well-trodden path and enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. The forest varies from rather open with airy clearings to Jurassic Park overgrowth, where just finding the trail is fun. There are several small creek crossings and a few small waterfalls to explore just off-trail.
The midway point of the Sal Hollow Trail
is the intersection with the Turnhole Bend Trail
, around mile 3.8. That is the perfect spot to rest and take in a gel.
Continuing on the Sal Hollow Trail
from that point becomes an adventure. The second half seems to be less used and more overgrown. The trail itself is mostly good, with typical roots and rocks, but there are more sections of swampy footing which tend to swallow shoes and/or be very slick. Especially note miles 5-6, that are a sustained rocky downhill. At the bottom of the hollow are a couple of creek crossings, then the trail heads uphill for a bit. Passing the Sal Hollow Campsite just past mile 6, the trail still trends uphill, but the running becomes much smoother and more fun as you approach the end.
The Sal Hollow Trail
ends at mile 8 at the intersection with the Buffalo Creek Trail
. Turn right on this trail for an easy recovery-welcoming pace back to the parking lot. Enjoy!
Flora & Fauna
Typical Kentucky forest with maple & oak trees, ferns, vines and poison ivy. Lots of wild turkey and deer can be seen, too.
History & Background
For many years, the Sal Hollow was open to mountain bikers as a test project on allowing MTB in the park. In 2013, construction started on the Big Hollow Trail, a mountain bike specific trail, and horses were allowed on the Sal Hollow.