Secluded Arches

Secluded Arches © Greg Whitis

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area abounds in dramatic cliffs, arches, and rockshelters. The region may contain more natural arches that any other region in the eastern United States.


Natural Arch

Natural Arch is an impressive 50 feet by 90 feet. The arch and surrounding 945 acres, once home to prehistoric groups and later the hunting grounds of the Cherokee, were set aside to conserve the area's natural beauty. Natural Arch Loop Trail #510 begins on the north end of Natural Arch Picnic Area and runs along a paved pathway to the base of Natural Arch, passing two scenic overlooks along the way. At the arch, you may climb the steps to the arch itself or continue along a dirt pathway that loops around the northwest end of the arch. The fenced area underneath the arch is closed. Visit for more information.

Yahoo Arch

Yahoo Arch has a height of 17 feet and a width of 70 feet. There is a smaller arch on the left. From US 27 in Whitley City, take KY 700 west. Follow KY 700 approximately 3 miles. The trailhead to Yahoo Arch Trail #602 is a gated road on the right. From the trailhead, follow the old road along the ridgetop. After mile, the trail begins to descend. Stairs with railings mark your approach to Yahoo Arch. Turn left and follow along the base of the cliff for one mile to reach Yahoo Arch. Visit for more information.

Markers Arch

From the Yahoo Arch trailhead, follow the old road along the ridgetop, taking a right at the fork in the road on Markers Arch Trail #603. There is a sign directing visitors to Markers Arch. The trail follows a pine-oak ridge before descending to Markers Arch. Visit for more information.

Buffalo Arch

Native Americans gave this arch its name because they used its height as an advantage when hunting buffalo. The arch, located at the end of a ridge, is approximately 19 feet high and 82 feet wide. The ridgeline drops along the back of Buffalo Arch into a valley created by a nearby stream. To reach this arch, take US 27 in Whitley City to KY 92 west. Just past the Yamacraw Bridge over the Big South Fork River, go south (left) onto Highway 1363. Follow the signs to Great Meadow Campground. When you reach the fork for Forest Road 137 and 562, take 562 to Parkers Mountain. Follow 562 until you reach Forest Service Road 6305 on your left. Access to this trail is from the Parkers Mountain Trail #634. The trail follows a jeep road for 0.2 mile, then turns right and follows a ridge for 0.2 mile before reaching the arch. Visit for more information.

Hickory Knob

Hickory Knob Arch measures 16 feet by 24 feet and is believed to have been formed from the collapse of a rock shelter. From Stearns take Hwy 92 toward Yamacraw. Turn left on Hwy 1363 and continue for 10 miles to Hickory Knob Church Road. Turn left and continue 2 miles until the road begins a gentle ascent. The arch is located on the left. Visit for more information.

Koger Arch

Koger Arch is 54 feet wide, 18 feet high and 91 feet across. South of Whitley City, follow KY 92 west to Yamacraw Bridge. Turn left just past the bridge onto 1363. Follow Highway 1363 approximately 3 miles to the sign for Bald Knob and Wilson Ridge. Turn left and follow county road 582 to the trailhead for Koger Arch Trail #633 on the left. From county road 582, rock steps lead down to a seasonal creek. Cross the creek and follow the trail up to the arch. The arch is within 0.3 mile from the trailhead. Visit for more information.

Wagon Wheel

Wagon Arch is one of the most accessible in the Big South Fork. The arch is often referred to as Wagon Wheel Arch and was named partly due to the wagon trail that traversed this arch prior to the construction of Mine 18 Road. From Stearns, take KY Hwy 742 toward the Blue Heron Mining Community. Once you pass the “Entering Big South Fork NRRA” look for this arch alongside the road on your right. Visit for more information.

Split Bow

Split Bow Arch is one of the most accessible arches in Big South Fork. A quick view from an overlook is only one hundred feet from a small parking area. However, to go to the bottom of the arch a short hike of .64 miles can be taken from the Bear Creek Overlook trailhead. The hike is easy and the 1.28 mile round trip only takes a few minutes. Visit for more information.

Robber's Roost

Robber’s Roost Arch looks more like a small cave than an arch and has a very appropriate name. The place is on the list of State Historical Marker program and is named such due to the frequency of thefts that were launched from this arch upon salt miners as they travelled from within the gorge area toward the Jacksboro Road. Take KY Hwy 1470 west approximately 3.2 miles and look for a gravel pull off on your right in a curve. Trail is unmarked and on your left. Visit for more information.

Gobblers Arch

Gobblers Arch is a sandstone arch with a height of 12 feet and a width of 50 feet. From US 27 in Whitley City, take KY 92 west. After crossing the Yamacraw Bridge over the Big South Fork River, turn south (left) on Highway 1363. Follow the signs for Great Meadow Campground. At the intersection of Forest Service Road 562 and 139, go left, following 139 to Forest Service Road 569. Go about mile to Forest Service Road 6105 on your right. Gobblers Arch Trail #636 ascends from Rock Creek until reaching the cliffline. The trail then
follows the ridgetop until reaching Gobblers Arch. Visit for more information.