Kentucky is home to some awesome waterfalls, most of which are located in the eastern part of the state. Cumberland Falls near Corbin being a prime example. Closer to Bowling Green, much of the water resides underground in the karst topography that makes the area famous. So it’s hard to find a waterfall that keeps a flow year round. We call these “seasonal” and tis the season to see these falls!
A storm system passed through the central part of the state last week that brought rain and warm temperatures. I left Bowling Green in search of three waterfalls in one day. My first stop was at Shanty Hollow Lake north of town on highway 185. All summer, this had been dry along with most of the lake, but now was flowing with marked intensity. Next I took highway 70 east to Brownsville and then north to Nolin Lake State Park off highway 728. A very finicky falls lives here, and had been dry as well since last spring. Ice and a waterfall greeted me for the new year. Now was time for lunch! At the junction of highway 1827 and 1352 is the Forks Country Store. A throwback to the modern quick stop. Everything you need is tucked away somewhere in this tiny store. From hamburgers to hunting supplies, I didn’t know whether to buy a soda or a pocketknife. Or both. But just a small lunch and then a drive to the Mammoth Cave National Park in search of waterfall number three. Bluffs Campsite off the Good Springs Church Loop Trail has a waterfall and I’ve seen it before. But the trail has been rerouted in recent years and I’ve missed it a couple of times as well. That’s what happened on this day. I lost track of the junction somewhere and decided to try again some other day. Still, a combined nine miles in three parks in one day chasin’ waterfalls!
For a video account of the adventure, you can visit my website, www.coryramseyoutdoors.com!
After having rained an inch and a half the night before, I find myself traveling in a ten-jeep convoy ascending the first hill of the OHV trails at Turkey Bay. Looking at the Jeep ahead, its back bumper suddenly drops out of sight and descended the other side. I then heard faint screams coming from a wife in the descending jeep, as my driver said, “This hill’s called Butt Pucker.” And then it all came back to me why I retired from riding roller coasters twenty years ago – I’m scared!
After spending the day with the Blue Grass 4X4.com riding group from Daviess and Henderson Counties, I realized that my fingers are now permanently indented on my friend Gary’s passenger side glove box. If I can best describe these men and women going off-road at Turkey Bay, I’d say they’re adrenaline junkies with driving skills equaled to professional NASCAR drivers. If there was ever a job driving pregnant women to the hospital in two feet of snow, these men and women would all gladly volunteer.
Turkey Bay’s Off-Highway Vehicle Area is 100 miles of primary, secondary and tertiary trails and can only be used by Jeeps, Trucks, Buggies, Four Wheelers and Dirt Bikes. The property, located in Trigg County at the Land between the Lakes National Recreation Area, is owned and operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Arriving after dawn, there were well over 100 guests at the entry point, many representing the Kentucky Lake Jeep Club and the national organization, ItsaJeep.org. But viewing all the other buggies, four-wheelers and dirt bikes, anyone can pay the $15.00 entry fee ($60 yearly) and explore on your own.
I quickly found out why Jeep convoying is important. Safety is the major concern, and convoying makes sure no one takes the risk on his/her own. With each climb, someone watches and communicates the do’s and don’ts of making a climb through CB radios. They’re also there for the meticulous details, standing next to the driver as he/her climbs impassable routes using verbal geometry. I say verbal geometry because if the jeep’s wheels aren’t in a particular point within an inch of a twenty ton boulder, the $30,000 dollar jeep flips, destroying their vehicle and transportation for going to work the next day. (See video below of Bluegrass 4X4 teaching geometry)
Turkey Bay OHV is open from sunrise to sunset, and packing a lunch is necessary. Our group had lunch together after conquering every colored trail except maroon. Maroon is comparable to black ski slopes. If you aren’t confident, experienced, and possess the right equipment, don’t even attempt a maroon trail. After lunch every Jeep in our convoy conquered Maroon, and I’m denying that I was the one people heard screaming.
THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF TRAVEL
Capital Plaza Tower 22nd Floor, 500 Mero Street, Frankfort, KY 40601