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Sal Hollow & Buffalo Creek Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.4 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

See the best of Mammoth Cave National Park... above ground.


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Map Key

10.8

Miles

17.4

KM

Loop

894' 273 m

High

546' 167 m

Low

863' 263 m

Up

885' 270 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

22%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Overview

This has been one of the best-loved trails in the park. Often busy, and recently opened to horses, the lure of the Sal Hollow still is hard to resist.

The 10-mile trail loop utilizes the Sal Hollow Trail and returns on Buffalo Creek Trail to the Maple Springs parking lot.

Miles 5-6 feature a sustained, rocky downhill that is especially tough after a rain. It becomes a sloppy mess that will wreck your knees and ankles.

Need to Know

There are many areas of poison ivy and tick activity is heightened in the summer, so bring some bug spray and wet wipes to clean up afterwards.

Description

Set out from the Maple Springs parking lot and begin your adventure by catching the Sal Hollow Trail to the left. The first few miles are quite enjoyable, with a well-trodden path and enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. The forest varies from rather open with airy clearings to Jurassic Park overgrowth, where just finding the trail is fun. There are several small creek crossings and a few small waterfalls to explore just off-trail.

The midway point of the Sal Hollow Trail is the intersection with the Turnhole Bend Trail, around mile 3.8. That is the perfect spot to rest and take in a gel.

Continuing on the Sal Hollow Trail from that point becomes an adventure. The second half seems to be less used and more overgrown. The trail itself is mostly good, with typical roots and rocks, but there are more sections of swampy footing which tend to swallow shoes and/or be very slick. Especially note miles 5-6, that are a sustained rocky downhill. At the bottom of the hollow are a couple of creek crossings, then the trail heads uphill for a bit. Passing the Sal Hollow Campsite just past mile 6, the trail still trends uphill, but the hiking becomes much smoother and more fun as you approach the end.

The Sal Hollow Trail ends at mile 8 at the intersection with the Buffalo Creek Trail. Turn right on this trail for an easy recovery-welcoming pace back to the parking lot. Enjoy!

Flora & Fauna

Typical Kentucky forest with maple & oak trees, ferns, vines and poison ivy. Lots of wild turkey and deer can be seen, too.

History & Background

For many years, the Sal Hollow was open to mountain bikers as a test project on allowing MTB in the park. In 2013, construction started on the Big Hollow Trail, a mountain bike specific trail, and horses were allowed on the Sal Hollow.

Contacts

Shared By:

Clinton Lewis

Trail Ratings

  3.4 from 5 votes

#2

in North Side

#4546

Overall
  3.4 from 5 votes
5 Star
0%
4 Star
60%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
20%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#2

in North Side

#38

in Kentucky

#4,546

Overall
20 Views Last Month
3,856 Since Jun 3, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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33%
17%
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Photos

Creek crossings are best with style.
Feb 21, 2017 near Brownsv…, KY
Fun exploring just off-trail
Jun 3, 2015 near Brownsv…, KY
November Sunset
Nov 6, 2022 near Brownsv…, KY
Mammoth Cave National Park on the Buffalo Creek Trail
Apr 15, 2015 near Brownsv…, KY
The Sal Hollow Trail can get pretty narrow
Jun 3, 2015 near Brownsv…, KY
Enjoy this great section of Sal Hollow.
Feb 21, 2017 near Brownsv…, KY

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Check-Ins

Nov 5, 2022
Kennon Ballou
Awesome, easy trail for hiking. West part very rocky and tricky footing while hidden by leaves, eastern part mostly flat with a couple of mud patches
Apr 5, 2022
Lisa Treadwell
Feb 3, 2020
Kortnee Withak
Apr 2, 2019
Ryan Hall
10.8mi — 9h 50m
Mar 26, 2019
Myron Johnson
Jul 15, 2018
Chris Clements
Trail is well marked. Starts out open, narrows about halfway in. Watch out for ticks in summer. Also water only at springs. Don’t camp at Sal’s Hol… 10.8mi
Mar 30, 2018
Megan Tenenbaum
Jul 2, 2017
Ranada McClurg