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Kentucky’s waterfalls make a splash 

Follow the falls to some of the state’s most scenic sights 

Talk about an attention hog. Stretching 125 feet across a rocky outcrop and plummeting down 68 feet into the Cumberland River below, Cumberland Falls, within Cumberland Falls State Resort Park—the most visited state park in the Kentucky State Park system—grabs headlines and draws crowds. 

The “Niagara of the South,” as Cumberland Falls is known, is deservedly Kentucky’s most famous waterfall. But it’s not its only wow-worthy waterfall. 

There are waterfalls all over the state, from a “cave waterfall” in the western hinterlands to the tallest waterfall in the east at Yahoo Falls near Whitley City. In the southeastern part of the state alone, some 800 waterfalls splash down—17 of them so spectacular they get a shoutout on the new Kentucky Wildlands Waterfall Trail. 

“By taking part in the Waterfall Trail, folks will see things they’ll find memorable and enjoyable,” says Greg Davis, a landscape photographer based in McCreary County and Wildlands Waterfall Trail ambassador. 

Davis is one of three such ambassadors who together have visited all 17 of the trail waterfalls. Among his favorites are Pine Island Double Falls in the Daniel Boone National Forest near London and Yahoo Falls. 

“Pine Island Double Falls is magnificent,” says Davis. “When in full flow, there’s nothing else like it in Kentucky. And Yahoo Falls, for those who’ve never experienced it, just walking into that massive rock house and seeing the stream is jaw-dropping.” 

The cascading spectacles on the Wildlands Waterfall Trail include the 60-foot Bad Branch Falls in Eolia’s Bad Branch State Nature Preserve; Flat Lick Falls in Gray Hawk, the deep blue pool it plunges into irresistible to water lovers; and Seventy-Six Falls, located along Indian Creek amidst scenic trails, bridges and views. 

Davis says the trails in and around the 17 falls are known and established. These were key considerations in selection criteria, along with ease of access with parking and signage. The aim also was to have geographically representative waterfalls located throughout the Kentucky Wildlands’ designated 41-county region. 

“On a weekend, you can visit a number of the waterfalls in a given area,” says Davis. 

Cumberland Falls is known as the “Niagara of the South.” Photo: KY Dept. of Tourism
Eagle Falls in McCreary County is worth the 1.5 mile hike. Photo: Rodney Hendrickson
Pine Island Double Falls. Photo: Greg Davis
Fulling Mill Falls in the Shawnee Run loop trail. Photo: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
300 Springs Waterfall, located on the Blueway on the Green. Photo: Sandy Ladd-Russell

Other wondrous waterfalls 

Within the Jones-Keeney Wildlife Management Area in Caldwell County, the Saltpeter Cave and Falls await at the end of a heavily wooded, 1-mile trail, rated moderate but also known to have some challenging segments. Following a good rain, the 70-foot waterfall, known as the “cave waterfall,” cascades over the face of the cave in a setting framed by towering trees and layers of greenery in different shades, sizes and textures. 

The largest waterfall in Pine Mountain State Resort Park, Honeymoon Falls plummets 25 feet down a massive rock wall softened by moss. Its picture-postcard setting feels like a grotto, with mountain stream, thickets of rhododendron and old-growth forest, and small caves adding an air of mystique to this Pineville landmark. 

Located on the Blueway on the Green in Hart County—the entryway to the Green and Nolin Rivers Blueway—300 Springs is accessible only by boat. From Lynn Camp Launch, paddle along Kentucky’s only National Water Trail to this idyllic spot of mossy rock face, sun-dappled foliage and hushed serenity. 

Creation Falls in Red River Gorge Geological Area is found along the moderately challenging and drop-dead gorgeous Rock Bridge Trail near Campton in Wolfe County. Cool your toes wading into the plunge pool and enjoy some of the most outstanding scenery Mother Nature can throw down. Bonus: Hikers will spy Rock Bridge, a natural sandstone arch spanning the creek, along the way. 

The descriptively named Dog Slaughter Falls near London in Daniel Boone National Forest, is, like Creation Falls, part of the Wildlands Waterfall Trail. Tumbling 15 feet, the waterfall is located near the confluence of Cumberland River and Dog Slaughter Creek. 

“There is also a pleasant hike along the Forest Service Dog Slaughter Trail that runs parallel to Dog Slaughter Creek through dense stands of hemlock and rhododendron,” says Tim Eling, public affairs staff officer at the U.S. Forest Service, who has hiked to the falls. “Near the mouth of the creek, Dog Slaughter Falls provides a scenic place to enjoy nature, with the trail meandering over and around massive boulders before it connects to Sheltowee National Recreation Trail.” 

For hikers, photographers, nature lovers, those seeking family outings—anyone looking for an active Kentucky adventure—each waterfall offers its own unique beauty, and all are unforgettable experiences. 

Paddle and hike to waterfalls—or watch these videos 

Saltpeter Cave and Falls, also known as the waterfall cave and located within Jones-Keeney Wildlife Management Area in Dawson Springs, is featured on the KET’s Kentucky Life series, The Trails of Dawson Springs

Learn more about the phenomenon of the moonbow that makes a regular appearance at Cumberland Falls (and how to photograph it) on KET’s Kentucky Life video on the Kentucky State Parks YouTube channel.   

Follow kayaker Michael Goodman as he paddles the Green River in Hart County to 300 Springs Waterfall.   

Pine Island Double Falls

Copperas Falls

Go chasing waterfalls 

Kentucky Wildlands Waterfall Trail ambassador Greg Davis typically spends April through December exploring waterfalls and says it is an ideal time for discovery—especially April when cooler temperatures making navigation easier. The Trail’s website recommends checking current trail conditions before heading out and be alert for flooding in low-lying areas. 

300 Springs, Blueway on the Green, Hart County (Farmers RECC);

Creation Falls, Red River Gorge Geological Area, Wolfe County (Clark Energy, Licking Valley RECC),,, click “Outdoors” tab. 

Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park (Cumberland Valley Electric), 7351 State Route 90, Corbin; (606) 528-4121,

Dog Slaughter Falls near London in Daniel Boone National Forest,,, click “Outdoors” tab. 

Fulling Mills Falls at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, 3501 Lexington Road, Harrodsburg; (859) 734-5411,  

Honeymoon Falls, Pine Mountain State Resort Park, 1050 State Park Road, Pineville; (606) 337-3066,

Kentucky Wildlands Waterfall Trail; learn more about the 17 waterfalls along this newly designated trail—including Bad Branch Falls in Letcher County (Cumberland Valley Electric), Flat Lick Falls in Gray Hawk (Jackson Energy Cooperative); and Seventy-Six Falls in Clinton County (South Kentucky RECC) at A Waterfall Trail Guide in print and pdf formats and can be requested at the website.  

Pine Island Double Falls, London;, click “Outdoors” tab. 

Saltpeter Cave and Falls in the Jones-Keeney Wildlife Management Area, Archery Range Road, Dawson Springs, and enter Jones-Keeney in the search box. 

Yahoo Falls, 700 State Route 700, Whitley City (South Kentucky RECC);, click “Outdoors” tab. 

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