by Nancy Dorrans
Last month I traveled south just before Easter. While it was still cool, damp and gray/brown in Portland, where I was headed spring was in full bloom. My sister had invited me to join her and her husband along with my father, nephew and his girlfriend, and some other family friends for a three-night camping adventure. We headed to Natural Bridge Kentucky State Resort Park, about three and half hours northeast of Knoxville. The park is adjacent to the Red River Gorge geological area and Daniel Boone National Forest.
Natural Bridge State Resort
The park has a campground, and this is where my sister and her husband set up with their recently renovated Shasta Compact 1963.
The resort also has a lodge and cabins for rent, which is where my dad and I stayed. All told, for our Kentucky Easter camping adventure there were thirteen of us plus three dogs crammed into two cabins, two campsites and one lodge room.
The Red River Gorge in Kentucky is “Gorge-ous” and quite popular with rock climbers and hikers of all ages and abilities. A few trails allow hiking with dogs. The area boasts over 500 miles of trails through rugged terrain made of limestone cliffs and exposed limestone rock faces.
According to Hiking the Red, a complete trail guide to Kentucky’s Red River Gorge written by Bluegrass Group Sierra Club, “…this trail network is larger than any other National Forest in Kentucky. Activities include hiking, camping, picnicking, hunting, fishing, boating, swimming, horseback riding, bicycling, rock climbing, spelunking, bird watching, photography, nature study, and more.”
We ate very well as both my sister and I grew up as Girl Scouts and learn to cook over the open fire. She orchestrated the most amazing foil dinners, melt in your mouth ribs, pie iron breakfast sandwiches, and of course s’mores!
We spent our days relaxing and exploring the trails. The hike up to the Natural Bridge was stunning and involved stepping up carved limestone staircases carved into the steeps. The real surprise treat for me was vast variety of wildflowers that were in bloom: Trillium (white and red), Dwarf Iris, Blue Phlox, Pennywort, Showy Orchis, Wild Geraniums, and many others.
Three days was enough to get a good taste of the vast richness of the area, which I highly recommend as an April Vacation adventure destination! I’m sure I’ll be back!
Spring 2017 in NYC
Next up, a late April spring weekend bus tour from Portland to New York City. I helped coordinate this trip for the Southern Maine Health Care activities committee.
This is the third year in a row I’ve spent a spring weekend in the Big Apple and I’m learning a bit more with every adventure.
Last spring I led the Portland Community Chorus for their once in a lifetime opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall! This year our small group will tour Central Park, kick it up for Kinky Boots on Broadway, head to Ellis Island and/or stroll along the High Line…
More day trips, weekend tours and once in a life time Bucket List adventures are on deck at www.adventure-marketplace.com
Nancy is a West Ender and travel agent.