Carter Caves Three Bridges Hike

 On one of two cave tours at Carter Caves State Park

On one of two cave tours at Carter Caves State Park

Overview. This is a great hike for the whole family where you’ll be treated to three arches across only 4.5 miles of trail. These arches are quite large relative to many found throughout the region, and this hike can be enjoyed anytime of the year. [Learn more about Carter Caves State Park]

Route Type | Loop
Total Distance | 4.5 miles
Overall Difficulty | Easy to Moderate
Kentucky State Parks Topographic Map

Trailhead. We started at the campground [map], but the trail passes by the welcome center as well [map].

Trail navigation. Leaving the campground, the trail picks up a little more than a tenth of a mile from the tent sites. Take a right to hike the loop counterclockwise.

About 0.85 miles in, you’ll come to Smoky Bridge, the first and largest of three arches or ‘bridges’. After taking this in, continue on the Three Bridges Trail and turn at mile 1.8 to reach Raven Bridge. If you choose to hike up to the arch, it’s only 0.15 miles.

Returning to the loop trail, make a left to continue counterclockwise. You’ll have a nice stretch in the forest for a little more than a mile before coming up to Fern Bridge that sits very high above the trail. Be sure to look up once you reach the trail marking.

From here, it’s another mile and a half to return to the campground with a couple modest climbs. Once you’ve finished your hike, be sure to checkout one of two cave tours offered at the park.

 Map of Carter Caves Three Bridges Hike

Map of Carter Caves Three Bridges Hike

 Elevation profile of Carter Caves Three Bridges Hike

Elevation profile of Carter Caves Three Bridges Hike

 Smoky Bridge at Carter Caves State Park - one of the more impressive arches you’ll find in Kentucky

Smoky Bridge at Carter Caves State Park - one of the more impressive arches you’ll find in Kentucky

 Raven Bridge from below at Carter Caves State Park

Raven Bridge from below at Carter Caves State Park

 Fern Bridge at Carter Caves State Park

Fern Bridge at Carter Caves State Park