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Monday, February 18, 2013

Hiking Around Mammoth Cave National Park

December 01, 2012

Not realizing that Mammoth Cave National Park was in the Central time zone, M and I arrived an hour early. After picking up pamphlets at the hotel next to the visitors center, we hiked the wheelchair accessible Heritage Trail to Sunset Point. When we reached Sunset Point, the sun broke though the clouds and warmed the hills around us. We then descended 300+ ft to the river bank through a series of switchbacks and wooden bridges until we came to Echo River Trail. Turning right, we followed the signs and hiked to the River Styx. 

On top of a wooden deck, we viewed where the River Styx exited the cave system and flowed to meet with the Green River which was situated 500 ft east of the opening. Since we had time to kill, we skipped the River Styx Spring Trail, which would have taken us back to the Visitors Center, and instead followed the Green River Bluffs Trail. After ascending more switchbacks, the trail forked and M and I hiked to Dixon Cave before leaving the trail system and making our way back to the Visitors Center for our Gothic Avenue Mammoth Cave Tour.

The park is huge and we only hiked the trails near the Visitors Center. We started at the red dot and made our way down to the Green River.
Baby deer on the way into the the park

Bridge to the hotel

Heritage Trail

Heritage Trail is wheel chair accessible

Heritage Trail

Heritage Trail 

View to the right of Sunset Point

Sunset Point, no sun

Sunset Point lit by the sun

Going down switchbacks to get to River Styx and Green River

Going down switchbacks to get to River Styx and Green River
Going down switchbacks to get to River Styx and Green River
After switchback, we came to where these trails meet

Going north on Echo River Spring Trail

Bridge on Echo River Spring Trail

We can see the River Styx from the trail

More boardwalk while we descended

Echo River Spring Trail curving to the right then we took the board walk to see  River Styx

Echo River Spring Trail

River Styx starts from inside this cave and flows out to meet Green River

Green River Bluffs Trail
Sign where all three trails meet

View of the not so Green River

Green River Bluffs Trail

Hornet(?) hive/nest

Ascending on Green River Bluffs Trail

Green River Bluffs Trail

Switchbacks on Green River Bluffs Trail

Switchback on Green River Bluffs Trail

Rocky path for Green River Bluffs Trail

Looking over the edge on Green River Bluffs Trail

What a view! Staying true to its name: Green River 

M and I on the trail to Dixon Cave

To our left, these stairs led us to the campground and Visitor Center

To the right, stairs that led us to Dixon Cave
Dixon Cave

Going up the stairs

Through the picnic area and back to the Visitors Center to start our cave tour!

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