Fishing & Boating in the Northwoods

Natural Bridge State Park

view from natural bridge

Almost directly across the street from Miat the base of natural bridgeguel’s Pizza & Rock Climbing Shop is the Natural Bridge State Resort Park. As State Parks go, this one is very cool. About 50-60 feet below Hemlock Lodge (where we stayed), a small river runs through the park and surrounds an area called Hoedown Island — an open-air dance patio for weekly square dances; Pedal Boats and Hydrobikes are available for rental there. There is also a swimming pool… but our choice was the many miles of hiking trails up and around the cliffs.

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Heading to Natural Bridge

The rain seemed to let up in response to our desire to go for a hike, so we headed up one of the trails — which range by the way from easy to advanced — to reach the natural bridge for which the park is named. The trail we selected is only about three-quarters of a mile in length from the lodge to the bridge… but the ascent on this the “Original Trail” is some 500 feet up. Even done slowly, it’ll get your heart pumping! Though spring hadn’t yet fully arrived, the redbuds were starting to show their colors and the dense stands of rhododendron were looking as if they were about to burst, while the yellow poplar still held tightly to last season’s leaves.


View From Above

The climb took only about 45 minutes and views were breathtaking — certainly worth the time and effort to get there. Crossing under the arch and then sliding through a narrow fracture in the rocks, we emerged and climbed a number of stairs in order to reach the very top of the natural arch. Wow! What a place to be. The product of some 300 million years sculpting by Mother Nature, the sandstone arch is quite a sight to behold. And except for a few hollers and whistles from folks wanting to hear the echoes, the peace and quiet was deafening. After snapping a plethora of pictures, we headed back down, selecting Trail #2 — otherwise known as “Balanced Rock Trail” — for our return trip. It, too, was only three-quarters of a mile in length back to the lodge.

Though we did have another choice – a trail which was 9.25 miles long – my legs said an immediate NO to that thought! Balanced Rock Trail — sporting a huge and precariously balanced block of sandstone for which the trail is named — was much steeper, and I was glad that we chose it for going down rather than up. By the time we got back to the lodge, our legs had been replaced by something that I can only describe as an alloy of rubber and spaghetti. Oddly, it was a good feeling, and I knew that we would sleep well tonight.

Time for Dinner

We took showers and headed to dinner at Sandstone Arches Restaurant in the lodge. The menu is fairly large and boasts many Kentucky favorites that utilize locally grown meats and produce when available. With offering such as Fried Catfish, Fried Green Tomatoes, and the popular Kentucky Hot Brown (an open-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, covered in Mornay sauce and broiled, then topped with tomatoes — originally created at the Brown Hotel in 1926), as well as a giant buffet and serve-yourself ice cream for dessert, how could one go wrong? It was a severe case of “the tireds” that kept us from having any dessert; we gingerly arose from our chairs and headed to bed early. Another long but satisfying day had come to an end. Time for some sleep!

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R. Karl

Angler, Author & Epicure

Fishing since the age of eight.  Seriously writing since the age of 16. Chef and foodie from the age of 22 years… and counting. So much to learn and so little time. I have enjoyed every minute of it all.  Whether on the water (where I like it best), in the kitchen, or at the keyboard, churning out content, I feel like I have found my place.  I am sharing it with you in the hope that some of what I love to do will rub off on you. I hope to see you On the Lake!

R. Karl