Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I would never recommend anything I don’t personally love, and the income goes to keeping this site updated and free for everyone! See legal disclaimer here.
Hiking has never been more popular so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite unexplored trails as well as some we’ll be trying to find soon. Kentucky waterfalls are absolutely stunning and not very well known – so I’ll be posting mini regional guides once a week for Kentucky’s waterfalls. This week we’re starting with Big South Fork waterfalls in Daniel Boone National Forest.
Big South Fork Region
Big South Fork is probably one of the prettiest areas in Kentucky! This region and Red River Gorge (next section) are two of the most under-rated areas in our home state. Home to some of the prettiest water and the biggest falls- it’s a region we’d definitely like to explore more of! I highly recommend planning a few days to get to all of these falls. To enjoy the trails and sit at the waterfalls – you’re going to hike over 12 miles and doing that in one day seems a little tough!
Weird name right? Also just incredibly pretty! To get there.. please follow the Catawba Overlook Trail and follow the signs for the different waterfalls that branch off for Dick Gap Falls + Bring Spring Falls. Overall – most people said that this section of trails took them around 5 hours and 8.6 miles. Make sure you pack a good lunch and that you start early! We’ll be hitting this trail soon this year and we’re so excited to find them both, and give you a more thorough review of how to get to Dick Gao and Big Spring Falls.
One thing you’ll notice about Kentucky waterfalls is that they tend to be clustered in regions like this. The reason for this is that the terrain ( think a lot of porous limestone – AKA why we’re the bourbon folks) is very hilly with a ton of natural rivers. I joke with Ev all the time that we live in ‘The Rainforest of the South’, and when you start hiking you’ll know what I mean. That rain in combination with the porous limestone causes some of the pretty amazing arches and valleys – all lending themselves to Kentucky waterfalls formation!
Another gorgeous waterfall in the area Big South Fork region. Rated as moderate, the trail is 4.2 miles long and considered heavily trafficked. Whenever AllTrails says that a trail is heavily trafficked – I typically tend to go early to beat the crowds.
Two great things about this waterfall trail: You can also see the South fork of the Cumberland River from different points and dogs are allowed! There’s also an arch and multiple trails that lead you to the falls – so while yes there is an end goal – this is also a very picturesque Kentucky hike.
This is an easier trail than Yahoo Falls and Catawba Lookout for the other two waterfalls already mentioned, and with a bigger payout for those who struggle hiking.
Difficulty Level: Easy (2.4 miles)
Dogs are able to use this trail.
Link to AllTrails Map: Click here
This one I hadn’t even heard of until Alltrails showed me a ‘nearby’ suggestion while looking for trails in this region. One of the things I love about Kentucky is that you find some really interesting variations – and one happens to be in our waterfalls. Sometimes the pools at the bottom are this gorgeous blue color when the sun hits just right. Lick Creek Trail’s waterfall doesn’t have a name that I’ve seen but look at how pretty the turquoise pool at the bottom is!
Drury Branch Falls
Drury Branch Falls is one I’ve heard of in this region but not well documented. Check back soon for a guide here! If you’ve been please comment below with any tips for finding the falls!
If you’re looking for an escape while you’re out hiking the trails- this Airbnb holds up to 6 guests and could be perfect for a family!
We love cabins so this one would be such a great spot! With three bedrooms and three beds – this Airbnb is great for families because it’s close to many attractions in the area.
Two queen beds, wifi, and a full kitchen make these perfect for a mini getaway weekend!
The best part about this cabin is that it has a hot tub! Perfect for relaxing after hiking all day.
Restaurants in the Area
There’s really not a ton to do in this area! It’s best to consider hitting the grocery store and cooking/grilling out for the weekend if you’re staying. If you’re not staying in the area.. I’d still suggest packing your lunch and water for the day!
Big South Fork Waterfalls + Recreation
Above I listed 4-5 of the best waterfalls of the area but there are a ton more! For maps of the entire area as well as the John Muir Trail – click here for a downloadable PDF from the National Park Service. The John Muir Trail covers a large majority of the main attractions in the area and takes about 4-5 days. You’d definitely want to get an Airbnb for that!
For all other waterfall hiking gear that we typically pack, I wrote a post with all of our most used gear. As always when you’re hiking the trails – make sure to follow Leave No Trace principles! Enjoy Big South Fork!