column and photo by Josh Boyd:
As a sportsman, it is only natural to be in constant search of the next adventure that waits right around the corner. This never ending search commonly yields outdoorsmen and women much in the way of potential enjoyment. In every expansive bean field, stand of mighty oak trees, and unwavering river, the opportunity for fun to be had and memories to be made exists in earnest.
Ironically, the venue for our next adventure is often found right underneath our nose. Sometimes the overlooked opportunity is the one that carries the most potential. When a vast outdoorsman's paradise lies in your backyard, sometimes it is easy to overlook all that is to be gained from such a situation.
Luckily for the residents of Edmonson County, and south central Kentucky in general, a place of this exact nature exists and is conveniently located within just a short drive. Mammoth Cave National Park sits as a beacon to all who enjoy time spent afield, signaling a place of near endless outdoor exploration.
Although Mammoth Cave National Park is well known for its distinction as containing the world's longest cave system, few realize the true extent of its equally abundant outdoor pursuits. Although hunting is not legal within the bounds of the park, fishing, hiking, and backcountry camping options are extensive. In fact, a weekend spent in the park can be planned in a way as to allow an individual to experience all of the above activities in a single outing.
If fishing is your favored outdoor pursuit, Mammoth Cave National Park does not disappoint. Multiple bodies of water exist within the boundaries of the park. An angler can wet a line in the Green River, Nolin River, or First Creek Lake. All of which have the potential to offer quality fishing for anyone who tests their waters. Bass, crappie, bluegill, musky, and catfish reside in the waterways that dwell within the park's boundaries.
Is a night under the stars while camping away from the lights of town more what you have in mind? If so, Mammoth Cave National Park will provide all you need and more. Mammoth Cave National Park offers multiple camping options to suit the needs of campers of all experience levels. Three developed campsites are present in the park for those who wish to camp in an easy to access location. For those who want to venture off the well worn path, the park is also home to thirteen backcountry campsites, spread among various locations.
Avid hikers will also find Mammoth Cave National Park to be a destination of much enjoyment. The park contains just under 84 miles of trails that feature hikes of varying degrees of difficulty. No matter if you are looking for a hike of a scenic nature, or one rich in local history, the trails of Mammoth Cave National Park feature something for everyone.
A weekend adventure for the whole family can easily be had without ever leaving the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park. A Saturday morning cave tour followed by an afternoon of fishing, is sure to be a hit for any outdoorsman. Follow this up with an evening spent camping while listening to the subtle sounds of nature, accompanied the next morning by hiking some of the region's most scenic countryside, and you have the recipe for fond memories that will last a lifetime.
At times, the best outdoor excursions are not found through searching far and wide. Instead, by taking stock of the natural beauty that surrounds our south central Kentucky home, paradise is often found. As you ponder your next outing and what might be in store, look no further than the national treasure that is contained in Edmonson County's own backyard, Mammoth Cave National Park.
Note: the thoughts and opinions expressed by Edmonson Voice guest columnists and authors of submitted articles are their own, not necessarily those of EdmonsonVoice.com