Sunday, February 1, 2015
Cotton Patch Loop - Big South Fork
Day one: 7.6
Cotton Patch Loop
Day two: 6.8
Cotton Patch Loop 2.9
Split Bow Arch overlook 0.6
Split Bow Arch Trail 0.7
Bear Creek Overlook 0.6
Road Walk 2.0
Total Miles: 14.4
We headed to Kentucky to do the Cotton Patch Loop in the Big South Fork. We started at the Slavens Branch Trailhead. You walk down the road and turn on to the Cotton Patch Loop. You start right off heading down for your first of five water crossings. You are in and out of creek gorges and a lot of flat areas of hardwoods. This trail is all old roadbed. The one extremely steep area with a warning sign, they have build a handicap ramp for the horses. You do go up and down a lot but it is not a strenuous hike. Beautiful area to hike.
We collected water out of the Tapley Branch and set up camp in a flat area just before the Bear Creek Loop intersection. It was a really nice evening to stand around a campfire! We set up our hammocks and enjoyed the evening. Lora had spotted an Great Horned Owl on our way out of Bear Creek Gorge and we got to listen to one at camp. We also heard a Screech Owl.
The next morning we turned up the roadbed at the Bear Creek Loop trailhead and hiked a mile up to see Split Bow Arch Overlook. We then hiked 0.2 back to hike the 0.7 Split Bow Arch trail, and the 0.3 Bear Creek Overlook. The Split Bow Arch is an impressive 50'x34' arch and the trial goes through it.
From there we walked 0.8 back to our trail and headed down to Bear Creek again. This time next to the Cumberland River. We saw the old water gauging system next to the river.
This crossing is the deepest of the creek crossings and we were knee deep in it. Might wanna watch it in rainy weather. From here you climb back to rim level and back to the car. Another great hike.