Trail Guides

Hike to Big Dog Falls

January 17, 2019

Kentucky is jam-packed with waterfalls! If you don’t believe me, just go check out the Kentucky Waterfall Database. This short, easy hike will take you to one of the many lovely waterfalls in the state. As a bonus, you will pass by a roadside double arch on the drive to the trailhead!

The Hike at a Glance

Difficulty: Easy
Length: About 1 mile (round-trip)
Hazards: Creek crossing. Potentially slick rocks.
Rating: 3/5
Landform: View on the Kentucky Waterfall Database
Photography: View on the Photographer’s Ephemeris

Big Dog Branch Falls.
Big Dog Branch Falls. Photography by Chris Morris.

Getting There

You will drive through the Cane Creek WMA on FS 119 and eventually take a right onto FS 457, which dead ends into McFadden Cemetery.  You will actually drive right by some roadside arches along your way through the WMA. They are the Daylight Twin Arches.

Daylight Twin Arch West.
The western most arch of the Daylight Twin Arches. Photo by Adam Thompson.
Note, you can view the Daylight Twin Arches on the Kentucky Arch Database:
Daylight Twin West Arch
Daylight Twin East Arch

The GPS coordinates for the spot you want to park at are: 37.098066, -84.256135. The following Google Map should help you find it.

The Hike

Big Dog Branch Falls hiking map.
Overview of the hike to Big Dog Branch Falls. LiDAR map produced by Chris Morris.

Click here to download a topo map with LiDAR of this hike!
Click here to download a GPS track for this hike!

After parking at the cemetery, you hike out the Sheltowee Trace, which is along an old road in this area.  The trees have the white blazes or the turtle symbol marking the route of the trail. Before you start the descent, you will generally be hiking in and around the road which is fairly rugged and covered in mud holes from ATV’s and off roading vehicles.  Once out the ridge you will descend the old road and into the hemlock forest. There are a couple creek crossings once you get to the valley floor. At the second crossing you will be at the top of the falls.

Big Dog Branch Falls elevation profile.
Elevation profile for the hike (one-way).

You can get below the falls by either crossing the top of the falls and down the other side or by carefully scrambling down the lower portion of the falls into the rock shelter.

You can sit and enjoy the scene from underneath the small rockshelter that is below the falls to the side.  

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