Nearby Cumberland Gap: A Guide to Pine Mountain State Park

Kentucky's oldest state park on Pine Mountain is known for its mountaintop views, natural amphitheater, rare old-growth hemlocks and breathtaking vistas of the Kentucky Ridge Forest and the Cumberland Mountains. BBOnline has compiled a list of activities in Pine Mountain State Park for your holiday pleasure.

Wasioto Winds Golf Course
Pine Mountain State Resort Park
1050 State Park Road
Pineville, Kentucky 40977
www.parks.ky.gov

In January 2003, Golf Digest ranked this gorgeous championship 18-hole course as the fourth "Best New Affordable Public Golf Course" in the nation. The course between two mountains in the "Valley of the Deer" has rhododendrons and hemlocks, three lakes and a creek. It remains green throughout the year because of a cool-weather turf. There's an indoor training center, a practice range and two practice putting greens.

The miniature golf course nearby offers fun for the whole family. A game of golf is an enjoyable way to spend the day before retiring to your cozy Cumberland Gap Bed and Breakfast

Mountain Laurel Festival in Pine Mountain State Park
www.kmlf.org

Held at the end of May every year in the stunning natural Laurel Cove amphitheater, this festival's highlight is the crowning of the Mountain Laurel Queen. The festival also features concerts, dances and fireworks.

Hawk Watch Weekend

This bird watching event is held in October when the fall foliage is spectacular. You get to see migrating raptors, learn how to spot and identify them and watch live birds of prey shows. Participation is free.

Elk Viewing Tours

These guided tours in fall and winter are a great opportunity for viewing huge herds of majestic elk. The return of these animals after 150 years of being absent from the state is due to the admirable efforts of Kentucky's wildlife management. Check the event calendar on the website of Pine Mountain State Park for details. Says the park's naturalist Dean Henson: "Elk viewing and hunting are incompatible, as you might imagine. When they are being hunted they are difficult to see, but when we go viewing them you might see as many as a herd of 100."

Hiking Trails
www.parks.ky.gov

Hikers will enjoy the 15 miles of self-guided trails on Pine Mountain. There are hikes (many of them quite challenging) to the famous Chained Rock, Hemlock Garden, Honeymoon Falls, Living Stairway and more.

Chained Rock has a story to tell. In the 1930s, the people of Pineville hauled a 101-foot-long chain to the summit of the mountain and attached it to a gigantic boulder which overlooked the city. Their goal was to create a new tourist attraction. According to their story, the chain which weighs 1.5 tons was supposed to prevent the rock from hurtling down on the city and destroying it.

The Hemlock Garden Trail in Pine Mountain State Park takes you into a ravine shaded by 200-year-old hemlocks, white oaks and tulip poplars.

Guided Field Trips

Naturalist Dean Henson takes groups on adventurous and informative field trips and hikes to the Blanton Forest, Chained Rock and the "Rock Hotel"-home to Indian tribes long ago. "In the Footsteps of Boone" is a trek that traces the steps of the pioneer Daniel Boone and others who traveled the historic Wilderness Road. Learn about the colorful Appalachian culture. A field trip is a great way to discover what's "wild and wonderful" about Kentucky, as Henson puts it. Sleep will be all the sweeter in your comfortable Cumberland Gap Inn