Cumberland Falls & Twin Arches Hike 3/21/11

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Cumberland Falls & Twin Arches Hike 3/21/11

Cumberland Falls (moonbow)

Located in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Southeastern Kentucky, Cumberland Falls State Park is on the Cumberland River, 18 miles southwest of Corbin, with the waterfall bordering Whitley and McCreary Counties. The outstanding natural feature of the park is Cumberland Falls, World famous for its moonbow. The 125 foot wide waterfall has a 68 foot drop that showers onto the boulders that lie in the rocky gorge below. The mist rising from the largest waterfall in Kentucky, creates a unique natural phenomenon that is not visible anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere on a predictable schedule during a time period around the Full Moon. Cumberland Falls has an easily accessible area where everything lines up at the correct angle. The Falls are situated in such an odd way facing north and flowing north, as to reflect the light of the Moon to make a rainbow like arch, an optical phenomenon called a “moonbow”. The Moonbow can be seen here on clear, strongly moonlit nights. It is sometimes called the “Niagara of the South”, “Little Niagara”, and even Moonbow Falls . It was first known as “the Great Falls”. This waterfall is one of a few locations in the world where you can find a moonbow or as other’s have called it, night rainbow, a moon rainbow or lunar rainbow. The average yearly park attendance is 750,000+ visitors.

Twin Arches- Big South Fork Park

North Arch and South Arch are clearly” twins” and thus have a common genesis. The ridge on which they occur is a major drainage divide, and the rock that forms the lintel of the arches is the most erosion-resistant stratum in the region. Headward erosion on both sides of the drainage divide has shaped the arches. Eons in the future, continued erosion should remove enough support from the arches to cause their collapse.

In most dimensions, South Arch is the larger of the two. At one point, the deck is 103 feet(31.4 meters) high with a clearance of about70 feet (21.3 meters). North Arch, in contrast, has a height of about 62 feet (18.9 meters)with a 51 foot (15.5 meter) clearance. Each arch is a major topographic feature. On the north, South Arch blends into a rockshelter and a widened bedding plane. Thus, measuring the breadth of the span involves subjective judgment. The span is clearly greater than 135 feet (41.1 meters). North Arch has a more easily defined span, about 93 feet(28.3 meters). Each bridge has a near-perfect arch shape.

In the eastern United States very few bridges are as high or as broad as the South Arch. If both components of the Twin Arches are regarded as parts of a single landscape feature, then very few natural bridges in the world equal the Twin Arches in size.

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