Kentucky's Cumberland Falls

Kentucky's Cumberland Falls provide spectacular waterworks, day or night.
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Kentucky's Cumberland Falls provide spectacular waterworks, day or night.

Kentucky

Only two or three waterfalls in the world have the conditions needed to create a moonbow, a delicate and magical combination of mist and lunar light. Cumberland Falls, with its wide arc, muscular flow, and dramatic 68-foot drop onto craggy, mist-making rocks, is the only such site in the western hemisphere. But a moonbow won't appear on cue: Even on clear nights with a full moon, we have yet to see one.

Still, we keep returning because day or night the surrounding 20 miles of beautifully laid-out trails are a splendid mix of riverside strolls and cliff band excursions.

Start your hike in the national forest heading southeast on the Dogslaughter Falls Trail from State Highway 90 to trace a figure-eight route connecting the Sheltowee Trace to the park's Blue Bend and Cumberland River Trails. Time it so you camp both nights near the Cumberland River on national forest property. Don't worry if you miss a moonbow; the ingredients for a perfect hike are always in place.

Where: 319 miles northwest of Atlanta and 333 miles west of Charlotte. The trailhead is 20 miles west of Corbin on KT 90.

Maps: Pick up a free copy of Cumberland Falls State Park Visitors Guide at park headquarters (see below).

Trail Info: Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, (606) 528-4121.