Daniel Boone National Forest Part II: Yahoo Falls, Yahoo Arch and Cumberland Falls
Bronston, KY - Events of Saturday, June 8 to Monday, June 10, 2013
After our sightseeing was cut short by the rain on Wednesday, it was cloudy with a greater chance of rain on Thursday. Therefore, we just hung around the motor home all day. We only got a few sprinkles, but it was a good excuse to goof off.
Friday morning was cloudy with another chance of rain, so we headed to Walmart to restock our supply of groceries. Paul took advantage of the clearing sky in the afternoon to clean all the motor home windows inside and out and to clean the screens. It was long overdue.
The weather forecast was predicting a mixture of clouds and sun with only a slight chance of rain for Saturday followed by mostly cloudy and a 60% chance of rain on Sunday and Monday. Since Saturday was the best weather of the next few days, that's the day we headed south to the Daniel Boone National Forest to pick up our sightseeing where we left off when it rained on Wednesday.
Our first stop was Yahoo Falls, which is located in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area of the National Forest. The trailhead for Yahoo Falls isn't quite as remote as the one for Split Bow Arch, but the last mile or so was still a one-lane gravel road. This one was a little dustier and wasn't quite as smooth as the road to Split Bow Arch.
When we arrived at the trailhead/picnic area, ours was again the only car in the parking lot. We stopped for a photo before we headed down the trail to the falls
The distance from the parking area to the falls is about .5 to .7 mile. The trail starts out fairly wide as it goes through the dense woods.
At a height of 113', Yahoo Falls is either the highest or the second highest waterfall in Kentucky depending on what you read. There is supposedly another falls to the northeast that is also in the Daniel Boone National Forest that may be a few inches taller, but we couldn't find the name or exact location of the rival falls.
Everything we read about Yahoo Falls indicated the flow was highly dependent on the rainfall with the best flow during the spring rainy season and very little flow in summer and fall. Even though the area has gotten some rain recently, we were approaching summer and there was only a disappointing trickle.
There are trails to both the top and bottom of the falls. We picked the trail that went to the top because it was shorter and not as steep. Unfortunately, there aren't any good vantage points at the top of the falls. The overlooks are all either overgrown or not far enough out in front of the falls to be able to see it well.
Located another .8 mile farther down the trail is Yahoo Arch. We debated whether or not to go to the arch or to double back and take the lower trail to the bottom of the falls. In the end, we decided to go to the arch and to possibly take the trail to the bottom of Yahoo Falls on the way back.
After we passed the falls, the trail narrowed considerably. Poison ivy lined both sides, and we had to be constantly aware of where we were stepping. In addition, the trail started to climb rather steeply making numerous switch-backs up the side of the hill.
While Yahoo Falls was unimpressive, Yahoo Arch made up for it once we finally arrived. The arch is about 17' high in the center and about 70' wide at the bottom of the opening.
Yahoo Arch was once a large rock shelter, which is a rock overhang that creates a cave-like opening in the rock face. It is called a rock shelter because primitive people would have used the overhang as a sheltered dwelling place. The back side of the rock shelter has collapsed leaving an arch. There is another large, intact rock shelter just to the left of Yahoo Arch in the photo above.
You can walk under Yahoo Arch and climb the slope behind it. To get an idea of the size of Yahoo Arch, the small spec indicated by the white arrow on the opposite side of the arch is Margery. She didn't accompany Paul on the climb up the hill behind the arch.
To the right of the main opening of the arch in the photo above is a second, smaller opening.
The hike back to the car was mostly downhill and a lot easier, but we were already tired from the steep climb up to the arch. The temperature was only around 80º, but the humidity in the forest was very high, which also seemed to sap our energy. Therefore, we decided to take the shorter, more level trail back to the car and skip going to the bottom of Yahoo Falls. We figured it wasn't worth the effort since we were already tired and since the flow was so anemic.
Although ours was the only car at the trailhead when we first arrived, we passed several other people on the trail as we headed back to the car. There were about half a dozen other cars in the parking lot when we got back.
From the Yahoo parking area, we headed about half an hour to the northeast to Cumberland Falls. Cumberland Falls is located in Cumberland Falls State Park, which is an area of about 600 acres surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Sometimes called the Niagara of the South, Cumberland Falls is definitely more impressive than Yahoo Falls. The average height of Cumberland Falls is 68', which is only about half that of Yahoo Falls; but the width is about 125' and the average flow is over 25,000 gallons a second.
When we stopped at the overlook at the top of the falls, we could see several people on the rocks below the falls fishing. One man was in a sheltered area among the rocks along the opposite shore in what looked like a home made jon boat.
We were still tired from our climb to Yahoo Arch earlier, but the path along the western side of the river is paved and mostly level, so we walked downstream to several other overlooks.
In addition to hiking on both sides of the river and picnicking, you can also take rafting trips to the base of the falls.
We made our way to the car and headed back to the motor home to relax the rest of the day. Sunday brought more rain, so we stayed inside and watched the NASCAR race. On Monday, there was more rain, and we did our usual pre-departure chores in between the raindrops in preparation for heading to our next destination on Tuesday. We'll tell you where that was in our next post.