PDA

View Full Version : Mammoth Cave Hike, Bike, and Cave Weekend



Bearpaw
2008-11-25, 15:16
Sleeps With Skunks and I headed to Mammoth Cave National Park on Saturday, November 22 for a three-day weekend.

We mixed things up a bit, since SWS was going to hike while I rode the available trails in the Mammoth Cave backcountry.

We each made our final preps at Maple Springs Trailhead.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/003a.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/002a.jpg
It was here that I realized that in the freezing conditions, my rear brake had frozen shut on my tire. I had to completely disconnect the rear brake and ride on the front only.

I rode off 1.1 miles down Buffalo Trail, then headed south .6 miles on Turnhole Bend Trail to its intersection with Sal Hollow Trail.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/005a.jpg

I dropped the paniers and my daypack and headed back up the Buffalo Trail. SWS was changing out her essentials into her tiny Flash Pack. I then shuttled her large pack to the intersection with Sal Hollow Trail. SWS continued on Buffalo Trail 2.8 miles to Sal Hollow Campsite. I rode back and cached all our camp gear near the intersection and proceeded the 4 miles by bike to Sal Hollow Campsite along the bumpy single-track Sal Hollow Trail.

The trail was in much better shape than most single-track in the park (no horses), but it was still challenging with many rocks hidden beneath fallen leaves. I walked more than I liked, arriving at Sal Hollow about the same time as SWS. We enjoyed a quick, chilly lunch at Sal Hollow Campsite.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/004a.jpg

From there, I rode back on Sal Hollow Trail, recovered by gear, and rode on the 1.3 miles to Turnhole Bend Campsite. It was thankfully level riding after the difficulty I had on Sal Hollow Trail. The panniers were challenging enough. I arrived at the camp in time to have our hammock camp set up by the time SWS arrived.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/006a.jpg

She set to gathering firewood while I made the 1/2-mile bushwhack to the Green River for water. Nine years ago, there was a solid trail all the way to the river. (I know because I hiked it). But now, it was a bit of a trudge. Once there, I had to walk a bit to find enough of a landing that I could get down to the water. The walk back was even more tiring.

Once back in camp, we cooked dinner, and SWS entertained herself with maintaining a fire I started. It was nice to warm up a bit before turning in.

The night-time low hit 22, but we slept warm and contented in our hammocks with both underquilts and pads.

The next morning, we packed and headed out. We both took the 3-mile route out, straight up Turnhole Bend Trail andd out on Buffalo Trail. SWS got a good 20-minute head start while I finished packing up. But on my bike I was able to pass her fairly quickly. I arrived back at the truck, loaded my gear and walked back to meet her maybe a quarter mile from the trailhead.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/008a.jpg

It was a pleasant walk together the last few hundred yards.

We then headed to the main Mammoth Cave Campground and rigged our hammocks there. Afterward, SWS supported me as I prepared to ride the MC RR Hike-and-Bike Trail.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/043a.jpg

The Mammoth Cave Railroad Hike-and-Bike Trail is a great 9-mile ride from the Mammoth Cave Hotel to outside the park entrance at Park City, Kentucky. I chose to start at the Hotel since it results in a loss of about 250 feet net.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/010a.jpg

The tread is either hard-packed gravel, leaf-covered gravel, or boardwalk. It started off level and smooth.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/011a.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/019a.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/014a.jpg

It made its way to a decent overlook, where Sleeps With Skunks was waiting as my sag wagon.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/013a.jpg

I journeyed up the trail to Furlong Cemetary, the first of a number which the trail would visit.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/015a.jpg

SWS was waiting for me at Sloan's Crossing Pond, where she had hiked the .4 mile boardwalk around the pond, while waiting for me.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/017a.jpg

I continued on to one more stop near another cemetary, then pushed the last couple of mile with joy as they were nearly all slightly downhill. I made great time to Diamond Caverns, a private cave located just outside the park entrance.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/021a.jpg

I began to push the last 1.3 miles to I-65 and Park City itself, but police tape closed the trail due to a "prairie restoration project". Even so, the 8 miles I rode were quite pleasant.

Overnight, a storm system blew in and forecasts predicted it would last all day. SWS and I chose to scrap our plans to dayhike the 10-mile Raymer Hollow Loop, instead opting for a mellow cave tour.

The New Entrance Tour is a 2-hour, 1-mile journey through a southern portion of the park I had not visited before. It began with a man-made entrance.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/022a.jpg

Just inside, it follows a narrow series of twists and turns down 300 steps.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/024a.jpg

After a 1/3-mile of this, the trail levels out and enters the "Subway"...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/031a.jpg
and arrives at "Grand Central Station".
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/032a.jpg

From there, the cave opens up for the middle third.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/033a.jpg

In the end of the tour, we toured the "Frozen Niagara" portion of the cave, with some of the nicest formations in the entire cave.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/041a.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/038a.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/MCNP%20TG%2008/040a.jpg

A bus waiting to take us back to the Visitors' Center.

It was a great weekend.

Frolicking Dino
2008-11-25, 15:29
Excellent report. We Dinos plan to do Mammoth Cave next summer.