Cumberland Falls: Dog Slaughter Falls

DSC03106So Dad and I decided to return to Cumberland Falls for the second time in eight days to try a new section of trails that neither of us had done before.  It’s being called Dog Slaughter Falls for the main attraction (Dog Slaughter Falls) but it is really a loop consisting of a few different trails which I will be very detailed about names and numbers so try and keep up.

The trail begins just down from the visitor’s center which is a good start because it allows for one to pick up a trail map at the visitor’s center, and it also allows for you to begin and end with the Cumberland Falls.  When you come to the official trailhead one thing that you will notice is that there are several names for the same section of trail: Moonbow trail, Park Trail 1, Sheltowee Trail 100.  From here on I’ll introduce the trail with all names used then I will refer to it by the park’s numbering system.  Let’s go.For the first two miles of the trip you will be on trail 1, this trail offers good views as well as spots to walk down to the sandy beaches of the river for some great picture opportunities.  During this part of the trail you will also notice huge boulders lining the trail in areas that provide for some mild climbing if that’s what your into.  We hiked for about 30 minutes before I found a boulder on the edge of the river that needed to be climbed on, so I hopped down there and started to take a picture of the river when a huge splash came from the water directly in front of me.  I don’t know what I expected it to be but I didn’t expect to see a young whitetail frantically swimming across the river.  Apparently he had snuck down to the water’s edge to get a drink and I unknowingly trapped him in from behind.  I will post a picture of him making his big escape.

At the two mile marker you come to a split in the trail, trail 1 continues in the same direction while trail 2 (Cumberland River Trail) breaks off to the right.  Eventually we will be taking this trail on the way back after completing the one mile out and back to Dog Slaughter Falls.  The one mile to the falls seemed to fly by as we made our way beside the river and climbing over boulders along the way.  In a different season this area of the trail would be thick with vegetation but not so much now.  We made it to the falls and climbed around a bit to find better pictures and then headed back to trail 2 thinking that most of the trip was already over.  We were wrong.

Even though distance wise we had almost come to the halfway point having already completed 4 miles but the 4 miles we had finished had very little elevation gain and would be considered by most to be fairly easy.  You start trail 2 zig zagging your way up to the top of the ridge.  After climbing roughly 500 feet (that’s a guestamation based on a poor topo map of the area) in the first 3 quarters of a mile this section was already proving to be more difficult the previous 4 miles.  Before turning off of trail 2 we noticed the Pinnacle Knob fire tower above, we didn’t have time to explore around it but my map indicates that if you stay on trail 2 you would have a chance to explore around the area.

At this point you see a sign where the trail splits again saying the way back to Cumberland Falls is to take 11 to 7 to 12 to 1.  We started on 1 so we figured this would be our quickest way out since we had already completed 5 miles and after that climb could use a break.  So we take trail 11 (Anvil Branch Trail) and come to quickly realize that our climbing had just begun.  Now we didn’t gain anymore elevation from where we were but there was very little flat ground on this trail, we were constantly going down and coming back up the ridges surrounding the river which made for a tiring 2.5 miles.  Trail 8 also branches off of trail 11 and connects with Kentucky Highway 90 if someone is needed to reach the highway.

We finally make our way to Trail 7 (Rock House Trail) which is a shorter connector trail between 12 and 11.  We were only on this trail for about a quarter of a mile until we joined up with Trail 12 (Wildflower Loop Trail).  Trail 12 earned this name because during the spring and early summer this is an area that is full of some of the most beautiful wildflower scenery the state has to offer.  Again not so much in late November but it was still a nice walk that led us beside the wonderful water treatment plant in the park.  Follow Trail 12 until it runs back into trail 1 and familiar sights and then you are only about 200 yards from the great Cumberland Falls.

To the best of my guessing ability I would say this loop was about 8.5 miles long which took us about 3 hours and 45 minutes.  It has become my favorite trail in this park system because it really does seem to have everything whether you like being beside the river, rocky outcroppings,   or dense forest with moss covered everything and ferns that when seeing it makes you fully expect to see ewoks around the next turn:)  It was a great day and a great hike that I would recommend to anyone, but remember, without our state parks none of this would be possible.  So support your state parks in any way you can and as always happy hiking.

5 Responses to “Cumberland Falls: Dog Slaughter Falls”

  • I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing.

  • Tom Doyle says:

    We were just at Cumberland Falls 5/27 – 5/31. I wish we had taken the hike to Dog Slaughter Falls. Have to say, the name alone intrigued me. I was wondering about the origin.

  • omegaman66 says:

    That picture labeled “big rocks” is amazing!!! Glad to see the deer successfully escaped. haha

  • Jeana H. says:

    J.D….I added a few pics from our hike to Dog Slaughter Falls back in Jan 2010. There are 2 trailheads off of the Forest Service Rd — the hike from the 1st one is about 8 miles RT and the hike from the 2nd one is about 2.5 miles RT (which is the one we did). I love this hike…very green, even in January.

    • Lynnelle B. says:

      Jeana, I’m interested in the shorter hike you mentioned (2.5 RT) to dog slaughter falls. Was it easy to find? Will it be described on the park map? Any info would be helpful….will be hiking there on Aug. 4 2013.

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