After reaching Yahoo Falls, (previous tip), those who are willing to hike an additional 1.6 miles, round trip, may visit Yahoo Arch. This sandstone formation is impressive, but not as large as some other arches in the Cumberland Plateau area. Just as at Yahoo Falls, the setting of Yahoo Arch is awesome. The Arch is just to the side of a much larger cave where archeologists tell us early American Indians lived 9,000 years ago. Water was running over the front of the cave when we were there, forming a small seasonal waterfall.
Th hike from Yahoo Falls to Yahoo Arch was a relatively easy one, except for a few fallen trees across the path. A light snow began falling while we were at the arch, and by the time we returned to our car there was a fresh layer of white on the ground. We love hiking in the snow; it's always a magical experience.
The Yahoo Arch is a round trip hike of 2.6 miles from the trail head. To reach the trail head, take KY 90 west from Cumberland Falls to KY 700. Follow KY 700 to the turnoff to the parking area. It is approximately a 19-mile drive.
Another very popular day-trip from Cumberland Falls is a visit to the Natural Arch Scenic Area. This can be combined with a trip to the Yahoo Falls and Yahoo Arch, in our two previous tips.
Natural Arch, in the Daniel Boone National Forest, is the biggest natural sandstone arch in Kentucky. At 100-feet wide and 60-feet high the opening is a bit larger than the much better known Natural Bridge at Kentucky's Natural Bridge State Park. The dramatic terrain of the Cumberland Plateau is unlike the moulded contours of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah of the Appalachian Mountain Chain. It is more akin to what one would expect to see in the western United States. I call it Snuffy Smith Country, and anyone who remembers that hillbilly cartoon character will know what I mean.
The Natural Arch Scenic area is about 15 miles from Cumberland Falls. Take KY 90 west to US 27 south, go about 1/4-mile and turn right on KY 927. It is slightly over 1-mile to the parking area. A short paved trail leads to an overlook, or take a 3/4 mile hike to the arch.
Yahoo Falls, about 19 miles from Cumberland Falls, is a popular day trip for those staying at the state park. Yahoo Falls plunges 113-feet from a heavily forested sandstone ledge, making it the highest waterfall in Kentucky. Yahoo Creek, which feeds the falls, is a small stream which may run dry in the summer. The falls are within the boundaries of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. They can be reached only by a one mile loop trail from the Yahoo Falls Trail Head. It is a beautiful trail but very steep in places with many steps.
The falls is in an exceptionally dramatic setting as it makes a clear leap over the front of a very large natural cave. The trail leads behind the falls, through the cave, and a spur trail crosses a footbridge over the creek below the falls. Archeologists have found evidence of human habitation in the cave dating back 9,000 years.
This area is also noted for its abundance of songbirds and wildflowers. Although it was winter when we were there we still had many bird sightings as well as enjoying the evergreen ferns, rhododendron, mountain laurel, holly and hemlock.
To reach the Yahoo Falls Trail Head, take KY 90 west to KY 700. Follow KY 700 to the turnoff to the parking area.