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Secret sanctuary

Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
From Grayson Lake State Park, kayakers head to Grotto Falls. Photo: John L. Rucker
Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
Entrance to the narrow passageway to Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker
Grotto Falls, Grayson Lake State Park. Photo: John L. Rucker

Grotto Falls at Kentuckys Grayson Lake will delight

Like some gems, this one is hidden at first. 

With a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, however, you can enjoy the rare beauty of Grotto Falls at Grayson Lake. 

“It is kind of a secret,” says Alice Hall, a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “If you are fortunate enough to spend the day at Grayson Lake, paddling along the sandstone cliffs and exploring caves and coves, it will be one you will not forget,” Hall says. “Grotto Falls, also known as Hidden Cove Waterfall, is tucked away among mossy sandstone cliffs that will lure you into its natural sanctuary.” 

To reach Grotto Falls/Hidden Cove by kayak, use the Clifty Creek boat ramp, which is 9.8 miles from I-64 and state Route 7. Take Route 7 south of Grayson, pass the dam on Grayson Lake, and turn right on the gravel road just before reaching the bridge over Clifty Creek inlet. Grotto Falls GPS coordinates: 38°13′43″N, 83°02′33″W.


Photo: John L. Rucker

“There are hiking trails” Hall says, “and a few have ventured to the grotto by foot, but it’s not easy. Plus the views from the water are much better.

“These secluded spots appear other-worldly,” Hall says. “You almost feel as if you’ve been transported to someplace deep within Middle Earth, where you can let your imagination run wild. The combination of beech-hemlock trees contributes to the surreal landscape.” 

Shutterbug John L. Rucker, a Grayson RECC consumer-member, first discovered Grotto Falls in 2017. He says he’s gone there dozens of times since. “I like to go right after it rains, when the falls are running.” He took his grandson, Mason Rucker, at left, there last year.

Photo: John L. Rucker

“The first time I saw the gotto all I could say was: ‘Wow,’” Rucker recalls. “I’ve lived here (3.5 miles from Clifty Creek dock) since 1990 and fished Clifty Creek and fished back in the cove. I never knew it was there. They call it the hidden falls for a good reason.  

Rucker also enjoys photography.

“Waterfalls are one of the things I like to photograph,” he says. “I love being around the power of the waterfall.  Seeing it makes me feel like I am living hundreds of years ago. I like to think about how the Native Americans might have discovered it.”

And the nature lover enjoys sharing the beauty of what he calls “one of God’s most spectacular creations.”

“I love shooting and sharing,” he says. 

While at Grayson Lake, be sure to also visit Craig Creek Falls, Gray Hollow Falls, Sam Carroll Falls, Stafford Creek Falls and Lick Falls.

MORE INFO ABOUT GROTTO FALLS
Here’s a little more information from the Kentucky Department of Tourism website: www.kentuckytourism.com/grayson-lake-state-park-paddling

Difficulty: Level 1
Time to Complete: Approximately 3 hours total to Hidden Cove and back to Clifty Creek boat ramp.
Distance: Approximately 6.5 miles loop on flat water.
Address: 50 Launch Ramp Rd, Grayson, KY 41143
Phone: (606) 474-5815

Seasonality: Paddling is best in summer and fall; in winter, the water levels drop too low. Late spring is okay. 
Fees: None.
Dog Friendly: Yes
GPS Coordinates: 38°13’43”N, 83°02’33”W

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