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    Getaways At The Hemlock Lodge In Daniel Boone National Forest

    We drove down through Louisville and onto meet our friends in Slade, Kentucky where we spent a few days at the Hemlock Lodge located in the Daniel Boone National Forest within the Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Slade, KY. This cozy Lodge features 35 rooms spacious room with private balconies, and lots of great amenities to enjoy. The best part of staying at the Lodge was how close it is to all the recreation and activities to sample in the area.

    For those who enjoy camping there are two campgrounds, Whittleton Campground and Middle Fork Campground that have 82 sites with utilities, including dump stations and two central service buildings with rest rooms and showers. There are also twelve primitive campsites. For large groups who want to share the beauty and outdoor activities with family and friends, the Natural Bridge State Resort Park also has four two-bedroom, and seven one-bedroom cottages, and is open year-round.

    After a brief rain shower, my husband and I strolled the trails downward toward the pool complex, that includes a spacious stone bathhouse, tucked between the lake and the cliff beneath Hemlock Lodge. Here, you'll find the watercraft rental dock near the pool complex, where you can rent pedal boats and hydrobikes.

    Visitors to the park can also relax along the shore and fish for bass, bream, catfish, crappie, and rainbow trout in the 54-acre Mill Creek Lake. As we passed the boat dock I paused, and imagined hearing the whistle of an approaching train pulling into what is now Hoedown Island nearby. Throughout the year folks gather on Hoedown Island for festive celebrations and weekly square dances on the open-air dance patio.

    It was in 1889 thought that the Kentucky Union Railway established a rail line through the town of Slade to connect with some of the commonwealth’s most extensive timber resources. A short time later, visitors starting arriving to explore the spectacular beauty of the land. Whether you come to camp or stay at the lodge, the Natural Bridge State Resort Park is filled with plenty of natural beauty and relaxing recreation activities to enjoy.

    One of the highlights of visiting the Natural Bridge State Resort Park is the Natural Bridge, which has stood for millenniums. The sandstone arch is 78 feet in length, 65 feet high, 12 feet thick, and 20 feet wide, and is a amazing site to see! From the Hemlock Lodge there are over eighteen miles of hiking trails that lead to Natural Bridge. And then, there's the easy way; for a few dollars you can take the Natural Bridge Skylift beginning in April through the last weekend in October. I must admit I was a bit nervous at thought of riding the Sky Lift, but once I got over my fear I enjoyed a ride to the Natural Bridge.

    The Red River carved this magnificent work of nature over a period of 65 million years. There are other natural archways in the area, but none have gained the prominence of Natural Bridge. The awe-inspiring natural beauty of Natural Bridge State Park is one of the great natural wonders of Kentucky. As with most natural wonders and amazing sites we visit there are certain precautions one should be aware of when visiting. There are no rails along the Natural Bridge or many of the other arches in the area, which of course would take away from the natural beauty, so please use caution when crossing these natural wonders; it's a long way down.

    Later that evening we all gathered for a buffet at the Sandstone Arches Restaurant in Hemlock Lodge. The Sandstone Arches Restaurant features a variety of contemporary American cuisine such as Seared Salmon with Sautéed Tomatoes and Onions and Classic New York Strip with demi glace. It also offers traditional Kentucky favorites such as Fried Catfish, Fried Green Tomatoes, which are one of my favorite treats, the popular Kentucky Hot Brown, and uses locally grown produce and meat when available.

    The restaurant seats 175 people, with a private dining area. The restaurant overlooks the famous “Hoedown Island,” which has been designated as the clogging capitol of Kentucky. It was so nice to share our days adventures with friends, and enjoy the great scenic view and wildlife popping in and out of the feeders for their evening meal. With abundant wildlife, recreation, and natural beauty to enjoy within the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Hemlock Lodge is the perfect getaway option when visiting Slade, Kentucky.

    By Melody Schubert

    Getting There:

    The Natural Bridge State Resort Park is located at 2135 Natural Bridge Road in Slade, KY. For reservations and current programs available at the Natural Bridge State Resort Park call (606) 663-2214, Toll Free: (800) 325-1710 or visit http://parks.ky.gov/findparks/resortparks/nb/