Hood Branch Loop

 3 votes

4.0 Miles 6.4 Kilometers

 

90% 

Runnable

100%

Singletrack

635' 194 m

Ascent

-614' -187 m

Descent

1,272' 388 m

High

783' 239 m

Low

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

48%

Max Grade (26°)

All Clear

5 days agoUpdate

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

Chris Chaney

Overview

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.
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.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs

Runner Notes

Low Gap Trail is steep, rocky, and rooty. It is a good climb, but can be a bear on the descent. The Hood Branch Trail gets less foot traffic and can feel isolated and remote.

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.

Contacts

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   Clear

4.7 from 3 votes


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Check-Ins

Apr 3, 2017
Craig Beaker
Fun trail. Cool arch and stairs.

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes

#1281

Overall
  4.7 from 3 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
33%
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Rankings

#16

in Kentucky

#1,281

Overall
92 Views Last Month
987 Since Jul 5, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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Conditions


All Clear 5 days ago
Fallen Trees - A few small trees down but nothing major. Some of the footbridges could use repair but they are still traversable.
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