Kentucky and the “Niagara Falls of the South”

As I wiped the mud and water from my bike, I thought about how grateful I was for the warm welcome that I’d received when I checked into the hotel the night before.  Hotels typically treat bikers well, and this time was no exception.  I was allowed to park the bike under the covered entrance, was given rags to clean the bike, given recommendations for local eateries, and received a gift of water and trail mix.  Betty surely made me feel welcome and a note was sent to her manager to praise her efforts.

The continued calls for rain had me considering heading home a day early, but as I cleaned up the bike I made the decision to take my chances.  Kentucky still had alot to show me after all!

After packing up the bike and filling the tank, I set out for Cumberland Falls State Park.  25 E was a beautiful ride, and I passed by wooded lands and farms situated on nicely curving roads.  Once inside the Daniel Boone National Forest, where the park is located, I had to keep myself from pulling over every few miles to take photos.  The woods were lush and green and I was captivated.

One of the first things I saw upon entering the park was the Dupont Lodge.


The Civilian Conservation Corps, under Roosevelt’s New Deal, put jobless men and boys throughout the United States to work.  Built by the CCC in 1933, the historic lodge was destroyed by fire in 1940. It was re-built soon after the fire, and all rooms were completely renovated again in 2006.


The staff offered much information including directions to a half mile trail, with a 200 ft descent, that led to the falls.  Since my boots were still a bit wet, I was glad I’d only be hiking a short way, but I was definitely ready to get off the bike and into the woods.  I grabbed my water bottle and headed off on foot.


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I have to admit to being a bit skeptical about the whole “Niagara of the South” label, but oh, I was pleasantly surprised!


Since the early 1900s, Cumberland Falls has been known as the “Niagara of the South”.  “Falling 7 stories, it is one of the largest waterfalls in the southeastern U.S.”.


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Even though I was just one of many people there to enjoy the falls, I never felt that it was crowded.

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I spent over an hour wandering about, taking pictures from a variety of angles and places, and learning about the history of the river and the falls.


The hike back up aggravated the new blister on my heel (thanks to the darn damp boots).  But what fun it was to sit outside the lodge, applying first aide to my heel and talking with all the folks who stopped by to admire my bike.  I’d been missing the human connection this trip as the rain kept me from alot of stopping and chatting.


While I’d been lucky this day, I knew that as I turned for home the weather would change, and I’d eventually run into rain again, so I made the decision to head on back towards Virginia.  I rode through more beautiful country on curvy roads and found myself singing out loud with the joy of the wind in my face and even the occasional glimpse of sun.

As the day waned, I turned onto Rt 58 and my happiness continued.

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My friend Tim helped me to find a hotel in Johnson City, Tennessee and one of the first things I did was ask the hotel clerk where I might find a cold beer 🙂


Once back at the hotel, the clerk told me to be sure to park right in front.  It’s good to be a biker!


Next Post:  The Ride Home

40 thoughts on “Kentucky and the “Niagara Falls of the South”

  1. Another great post Laurie and the photos are awesome. I love the one where the tree looks like its a post holding up that gigantic rock 🙂 Have a great day.

  2. Sigh……………….awesome post!!! And, yes, it’s grand to be a biker. Our hotel/motel experiences have been equally wonderful and have led to many great conversations!!!!

    • I loved the history behind it as well.
      I just read your journey across the Morrocan desert … so different, yet so wonderful, from my most recent adventure.

  3. Too much rain, but it seems that you had lots of fun nonetheless. Excellent photos.

    The building appears to be a work of art. I know it wasn’t as simple as it now seems, and of course it is impossible today, but a modern-day CCC could brighten things up for many people.

    • Wouldn’t it though? The whole concept of the CCC made so much sense then and it would again now. I’d actually like to read the stories of some of the individuals who worked in the CCC

    • Thanks Robyn. I wish I’d had the skill to bring a bit more light to the bike, but when I did it washed out the sky. Loved it anyway though!

  4. I can see you zipping along on that gorgeous red bike, singing loudly into the wind! But what were you singing? ‘Take me home country road’ ? ‘Don’t fence me in’? There’s a great Bob Seeger song we always used to sing on road trips, but I’ve lost it right now……. I could keep going but I don’t want to bore you 🙂 Love the waterfall, the hospitality, the BEER!! Despite the weather it was all such fun!!

    • I tried to google Bob Seeger Road Trip songs, and “Turn the Page” kept coming up. Is that by any chance the one you were thinking of?
      It really was a great day to be on, and off, the bike. I do love the freedom of vacation and having loosely fluid plans … do what moves you, change a destination, do nothing. Wouldn’t it be great it we could do more of that?
      Soon, with that new car of yours! 🙂

    • I truly am so glad you’ve enjoyed the trip, Alys! One more post about it and then i’ll beging planning for the next one 🙂 I believe that it’s the planning for fun and adventure that allows us to stick with the day to day (at least that’s one of the things that gets us through the day to day).

  5. Really enjoyed reading this post and especially the photos of Cumberland Falls. Beautiful. Also, there’s nothing quite like the warm welcome when you check into a hotel/B&B/Inn.

  6. Warmth, food, alcohol and a comfortable bed, if there is something to dry your gear on too, bliss, if some guy hands you a towel to dry your seat before you leave in the morning, heaven 😀

    • So glad you liked that last one … I was trying to brighten the bike up a bit, but when I did it would wash out the sky. I’ll have to spend a bit more time on it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  7. I must say, these falls are in a prettier spot than Niagara Laurie. I’d much rather have the solitude and be in nature with the birds and the sound of my own heart beating than the commotion of tourism of Niagara Falls. 7 stories is nothing to sneeze about. You’ve really captured the falling water well on film. That was actually a project in a camera class I took (I had the tube tap running, LOL). It’d be fun to be a little bird and be able to fly behind the curtain of falling water. Too bad about your blister, phooey! Neat rock formations and the boulders along the river have probably been laying this way since the dinosaurs walked there. For some reason I always think about who or what has seen ‘this view’ before me.
    Sounds like you folks are looking out for you out there and that’s such a comfort. Hey? Do you have a stereo in your helmet? I had a bike beside me on the way home from work yesterday and he was just rockin’, I wondered if he could hear it in his helmet because it was really loud, LOL. I always sing while I’m driving along too 😀 It’s funny, I also think I can whistle pretty well but Mr B thinks, “Not”. I’m sure it’s the latter, HA. Looks like you put Lemon in your beer…..that’s a twist (pun intended)…Have a great Long Weekend LB xoK

    • I too think of those who walked there before! and I try to imagine how it must have looked to the people who just happened upon views like this, before any human encroachment or the views hazed up by pollution. Must have been incredible!
      In terms of the helmet, and stereo in general – I do not have any music on my bike. I ride with folks who do have stereos and when we pull up to stoplights, I can wiggle a bit to their tunes 🙂 My friends joke that they would not wnat to share an intercom with me because I would never shut up! (I don’t think they are joking!)

  8. Each time I looked at the photos of your path down to the falls I kept thinking “Oh my knees would kill me” lol
    Thanks for sharing a beautiful part of your country with us. 🙂

    • Oh I’m sorry about the knees! I have several friends who struggle with bad knees, and I am so thankful that I don’t have to worry about that (right now anyway). Most of the hiking that I did was straight up and down like that …
      So glad you enjoyed the photos!

  9. So now you know why I prefer to run the trails. WoW, I would be in heaven on that trail. Great photos. I love the one of the rippled water. Perfect! And to top it all off with a cold beer. A biker after my own heart. Be well, LB!

    • I was able to hike many fun, albeit short, trails on this trip. The state parks in Kentucky are wonderfully maintained. And in terms of that beer: I’m not sure you saw the first post, but poor planning had me learning that much of Kentucky is dry, Yes! The bourbon capital; home of moonshine. Dry! I did not get my traditional end of the ride beer until 3 days into the triip 🙂

  10. A stone spiral staircase as part of your trail? Now that curls my toes in delight. All the more apt when the destination is splendid. Thanks for bringing us along. I agree with Boomdee that Niagara has too much tourism. And the Canada side has even more tourism. All of that takes away from the falls themselves. Your photos here are of a more appealing scene, with no midway or cotton candy stand in sight!

Because Boomdee dared me: Lay a little sugar on me :-)

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