Friday, August 31

Mantle Rock Nature Preserve

Continuing with our series,"Adventures with Uncle Bob-Guide to Self-Adventure",we feature a re-print of this article from our former website.  From Cave in the Rock,Illinois,take the free ferryboat over the Ohio River( open daily 6am-9:40pm) and turn right on Ky 135. Follow this pretty winding road for approx 20 miles to the village of Joy,Kentucky. Turn right on Ky 133 and proceed 2.2 miles and note a historical marker. There is no nature preserve sign. Turn left on the unmarked road after this sign and either park near the port-a-potties,or down by the information kiosk if the lane isn't muddy.
At 0.44 mile we encounter this 167 ft long natural bridge: 21 ft height and 9 ft thick. GPS N37.35636 and W -88.42709. It shows an overgrown trail to climb up to the top of the bridge, otherwise note some neat rock formations to the left, cross a narrow creekbed, and arrive at an unmarked junction. Let's go right and enjoy a ravine and cliff canyon with nice views. It ends at some point.  Go back to the junction and go on another trail to see the Medussa tree which has dead cedar branches that twist in all directions. Beyond this point the trail either was uninteresting or fizzled out. Unusual vegetation include June grass and Hairy Lip Fern. Go to for the picture of the natural bridge. If the link doesn't happen you may need to re-type in your browser. I leave you with a couple admonitions: avoid the ferry boat on holiday weekends as the line of cars and horse trailers backs up a significant distance. Apparently, for those who live north of here find this to be a shortcut to Land Between the Lakes. Secondly,if there has been flooding on the Ohio or excessive rain, route 135 gets flooded in many places. Also that creek bed near the natural bridge will be ankle deep to prevent going further on the trail.
Any questions,contact Bob Tyson at 618-684-5643 or
10-12-12: the above was from my notes 5 yrs ago. i had an unexpected occasion to go there today. there is a sign for the place on the road now. clearly marked. new loop parking lot, toilet gone, and now the sign at the natural bridge says 188 ft length-the longest one east of the mississippi river. the sign also says there is a new 2.7 mile loop trail,but such loop past the prominent feature was not evident.

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