Overview. Bell Falls is a great roadside hike at only a quarter-mile total. The falls were running on this day which was surprising with the long dry spell we’ve had. It’s a steep climb to the top with a number of small cascades further up Bell Branch. Take care with your footing, as it’s slick and steep - use all fours when in doubt.
Route Type | Loop
Total Distance | 0.25 miles
Overall Difficulty | Easy with a Strenuous Climb
USDA Forest Service Map of Red River Gorge Area
unmarked trail, but this one is easily navigated
Trailhead. The trailhead for this hike is a small pull-off parking lot with space for two to three cars on the north side of KY-715. It’s unmarked, so be sure to use the map link to avoid passing it by. [map]
Trail navigation. There are two trails at the west end of the parking lot. Start by taking the one on the right when facing Bell Falls. From there, you’ll follow the trail and cross Bell Branch before making your way behind the falls. This is a very slick area, so be careful with your footing. Continue under the falls and make your way up a steep path to reach the top. From there, we went a bit further up Bell Branch, and I took a side trail that leads to a rock shelter (not worth adding). This was steep and had lots of pine straw, so it was a pine slide coming down. Turnaround here and take the higher trail to the right for an easier descent to the parking lot.
Additional parking. There are a couple more parking areas just to the east of this one. If you miss the lot while driving east, catch the next one and walk it back. Each roadside pull-off has room for 2 to 3 cars each.
CAUTION - Cliffs. Be careful to avoid getting too close the edge of cliffs, as this is the leading cause of serious injury and death when hiking in Red River Gorge.
CAUTION - Poisonous snakes. While the gorge is within the range of timber rattlesnakes, copperheads are the most common poisonous snake encountered. Stay alert on the trail, as snakes are commonly found taking in the warmth of the trail. Give them a wide berth or wait for them to move off the trail.
CAUTION - Bears. Black bears are growing in number throughout Daniel Boone National Forest. Be sure to follow bear safety precautions. [Be Bear Aware by US Forest Service]