Tuesday, the 16th, was supposed to be clear and partly sunny but that never happened. We had thought about taking the early Historic Tour but I had checked on the website and it looked like the tour was sold out which seemed strange. Sunday wasn’t that crowded so why should Tuesday be sold out? We decided to take a drive to the park to check out the availability of the tours.
When we asked about it at the desk, the explanation we were given was something to the effect that the online reservation system doesn’t correlate with what is available at the Visitor Center if you are trying to make reservations on that day. Huh? We’re confused! Guess the gist of it is to not believe what you see online. The tours that were not available on line we’re in fact available. We could have taken a later tour but with the weather being what it was, we decided to use it as a day of rest. HA, day of rest – didn’t exactly turn out that way!
In the Visitor Center, we saw a posting about some nearby trails that sounded interesting. After asking one of the rangers about it, we headed over to the picnic area across the road to pick up one of the trails.
Luckily it was a cloudy, overcast and somewhat cool day so walking was pleasant. After parking the car, we walked to the trail head and headed down some steps. After walking a short distance along the trail, there was another set of stairs, this time much more elaborate ones!
At the bottom was another set of steps and a platform overlooking the entrance to Dixon Cave. Here there was a sign explaining that Dixon Cave had once been part of Mammoth Cave but the sinkhole collapsed, cutting Dixon off from Mammoth and creating the Historic entrance a short distance away.
At this point we could have called it a day and turned back but instead we decided to keep going since we wanted to walk (the word hike is probably more appropriate) along the Green River Bluffs trail and the River Styx Spring trail.
A short distance from Dixon Cave, the trail started to climb. The trails were dirt and gravel and easy to walk along but nevertheless, I was watching where I was going. Probably too much so because suddenly two deer bounded across the trail. I guess since I was looking at my feet, I never saw them so they really startled me. I took a picture but it is hard to see. We have deer at home in our yard all the time so why was this exciting?
Eventually this trail ended up by the Historic Entrance. There was no one there so we were able to take some better photos of the entrance and read some of the exhibits about bats, the air flow in the cave, how the green river made the cave, etc.
At the bottom of the slope after walking along a boardwalk for a bit, we finally came to the River Styx Spring. It was pretty neat! The river bed leading into the cave was pretty dry. Based on the marker next to the river bed, it appears that the river can get quite high so you might not even see the cave opening.
Eventually the River Styx trail joined up with the Green River Bluffs trail. As we walked along, we passed by some huge old growth Tulip Poplar trees. From a few spots, there were good views of the river. The name is very apropos as you can see from the photos since the river has a greenish tinge to it but we’re not sure what causes the greenish tinge.
It’s hard to imagine but at one time people could travel by steamboat from Bowling Green or Brownsville to Mammoth Cave on the Green River. Along the trail there is an exhibit where the old riverboat landing used to be.
Now the trail started to climb with several switchbacks as we headed for the Green River Bluffs. Definitely not a day of rest! Here’s a tree (or what was left of it) that we passed. Rob couldn’t resist the urge to crawl in!
The climb seemed to go on forever! And with all the trees it was hard to get a good view of the river once we arrived at the Bluffs. When we finally arrived at the top, it was just a short distance to the Dixon Cave trail which was what we wanted to take to get back to the parking lot.
Of course, after climbing back up the hill, we now had to climb back up all the stairs that we had descended earlier in the day. When we got back to the trail head, Rob offered to walk up the hill to get the van and then pick me up, such a sweet guy! It didn’t take much convincing on my part to let him do it.
Although it was pretty strenuous, it was a very enjoyable and very pretty hike! Now is it time to rest?