Mammoth Cave National Park

About Mammoth Cave National Park

Two men sitting in winter campground in chairs around fireMammoth Cave is the most extensive cave system in the world, with more than 345 surveyed miles of cave passageways and an estimated 600 miles of undiscovered passages. It is the longest cave system in the world.

Not to be overlooked, the surface area of Mammoth Cave has over 70 miles of trails through out the park. Rivers, bluffs, sinkholes, cave entrances and ridge tops cover the entire Mammoth Cave park system. Other features include wetlands and small sections of old growth forests.

The Nolin and Green rivers run through the parks providing excellent canoeing and fishing. The Green River is considered one of the most biologically diverse rivers in North America.


There are 3 campgrounds in the Mammoth Cave area. Houchins Ferry Campground is available on a first come basis, reservations are suggested for Mammoth Cave Campground and reservations are required for Maple Springs Group Campground. All sights include toilets, grills, tables and water. No hook-ups are available.

For reservations call 270-758-2180 or Online at

Backcountry Camping

Backcountry camping is permitted in 13 designated sites, on river banks and on islands by permit only. Free permits can be obtained at the visitors center.

McCoy Hollow Trail

McCoy TrailTrail Head: Houchens Ferry Road at Temple Hill Cemetery 6.3 mile one way. This trail is strenuous and does not offer a lot to see. I was hoping to have some nice vistas of the Green river, but was disappointed. A good place to start if you plan to backpack over to Good Springs Church.

First Creek Trail

Second Camp CreekTrail Head: First Creek Parking lot at Houchens Ferry Road. First Creek Trail begins at the rear of the First Creek Parking lot and proceeds toward the western boarder of the park. The trail follows along 2nd Creek and the Nolin River, ending at 1st Creek Lake. This trail is moderate and takes about 4-4.5 hours to complete depending on how often you stop. You can combine 1st Creek Trail, 1st Creek Loop Trail and the western portion McCoy Hollow Trail to make a great weekend backpacking trip. There are four designated campsites along the way.

First Creek Trail Loop

Trail Head: First Creek Loop Trail can be accessed from the west end of McCoy Hollow Trail or the east end of First Creek Trail. The loop travels around First Creek Lake.

Good Spring Loop Trail

Trail head: Good Spring Church 7.9 miles. Waterfalls and Rock houses can be seen along this trail. This is a good 2 day backpack or a long day hike.

Click here for a map

Turnhole Bend CampsiteSal Hollow Trail and Turnhole Bend Trail (Blue Marker)

Take Sal Hollowtrail to Turnhole Bend Campsite. Hike is about 2.5 hours. Trail begins at Maple Springs Campground. Cross road to trail head.

0.00 After crossig road, at junction follow Sal Hollow to the right.

0.70 Loging Road with gate to left continue on Sal Hollow

0.82 Trail switches back and begins to descend.

1.11 Cross dry creek bed.

1.43 Cross over wet creek bed that has small waterfall. Good place to filter water. Trail begins to slowly ascend.

1.90 Trail levels out along ridge top.

2.05 Sinkhole to your left, trail continues flat.

2.23 Cross dry creek bed.

2.60 After some up and down cross dry creek bed.

3.84 Cross dry creek bed and begin to ascend.

3.97 Trail junction. Turnhole Bend campsite 1.2, Buffalo Trail 1.5, Sal Hollow Camp 2.2. Two hours to here with water filter stop. Proceed left to Turnhole Bend campsite.

0.00 Turnhole Bend Trail is flat, wide and moves along a ridge that runs along Green River.

0.90 Green River can be seen through the trees to your left.

0.98 Trail descends slightly then begins to climb toward the campground.

1.20 Turnhole Bend Campsite. Closet water is a 15 minute hike down to the Green River at 15 minutes back. Above the campsite are some small rock outcroppings that over look the river.

Sal Hollow Campsite AfterTurnhole Bend to Sal Hollow campsite.

Take Turnhole Bend to Sal Hollow to Sal Hollow campsite trail. This took 3.5 hrs with lunch and water stops. Campsite is ok but would choose Bluff over it.

00.00 Descend from campsite and then level off on ridge.

1.20 Junction with Sal Hollow trail. Proceed left on Sal Hollow, 2.2 to campground.

1.40 Trail narrows, cross dry creek bed.

1.75 Cross dry creek bed.

2.62 Trail meanders through an open wooded area.

2.70 Pass though patch of Cedar trees.

2.93 Trail begins to descend and opens up at the bottom of the hollow.

3.11 Trail levels out and moves away from the ravine then crosses an open area and begins to ascend.

3.34 Small rockhouse and cave with water flowing. Enough to filter from.

3.87 Trail becomes more rocky and rutted due to multi-use. Begin to descend.

4.01 Trail follows along dry creek bed before decsending and crossing creek.

4.11 Cross dry creek bed and begin to ascend.

4.42 Trail makes sharp right turn and get steeper.

4.45 Turn left to Sal Hollow Campsite.

4.46 Follow trail down to Sal Hollow campsite.No water nearby. Campsite was over grown.

Sal Hollow campsite to Buffalo Trail and return to Maple Springs.

Take Sal Hollow campsite trail to Buffalo Creek trail to Maple Springs parking lot. 2.5 hours.

The hike from Sal Hollow campsite to Maple Springs is flat and wide and easy. You can make good time on this trail. You can throw in Prong trail if you want to extend your hike. We also made a trip to Bluffs campsite.

00.00 Follow Sal Hollow campsite trail up to Sal Hollow trail.

00.01 Turn left on Sal Hollow trail and continue to ascend.

00.80 Continue to climb as trail switches back several times.

00.92 Trail levels out.

01.13 Cross small foot bridge, trail descends through thick growth.

01.25 Trail junction. Miles-Davis Cemetery to left 0.3, Bluffs Campsite 0.6, Buffalo Trail 0.3.

Note: We continued to Bluffs Campsite (Orange marker) to check it out so milage includes this additional hike.

01.25 Trail to Bluffs Campsite starts out wide and rutty. It passes a logging road on the right as it begins to descend down along the bluff.

01.88 Bluff Campsite. Plenty of water and space for several tents.

02.52 Return to Sal Hollow trail. Turn left and continue on flat wide trail.

03.05 Trail Junction. Buffalo Creek trail right, Collie Ridge trail left, Maple Springs campground 2.4.

03.43 Sink hole to right of trail.

04.44 Trail Junction. Prong trail left. Turnhole Bend to right. Straight on Buffalo Creek trail.

05.10 Trail crosses dry creek bed and climbs slightly to the left.

05.42 Gate, continue to right to junction with Sal Hollow. Go left cross road to parking.

Last Modified 11/14/17

Second Creek CampKentucky Contacts

Mammoth Cave National Park
P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259

Getting There

If you travel south from Lousiville, KY, the most direct route is I-65 south to Exit 53 at Cave City. Another 15 minutes of driving will bring you to the park visitor center.

If you travel north from Nashville, TN, the most direct route is I-65 north to Exit 48 at Park City, KY. Another 10 minutes of driving will bring you to the park visitor center. Nashville and the park are both in the Central Time Zone. Louisville is in the Eastern Time Zone, one hour ahead of the park. Map of Park

Camera Picture Gallery

More Mammoth Cave Links

Questions or comments about this website? Send me a message at: Backpackcamp