Copperas Falls with Hopewell Arch

Trail: Copperas Falls with Hopewell Arch

Trailhead: Sky Bridge Rd (715) – Road is frequently closed due to washout, check conditions on the gorge website. – 37.82036, -83.57501 . Same parking lot for Eagles Nest Trail

Route: ~ 4 miles w/ roughly 450 feet of elevation gain – Out and Back trail

Fees: No fee for day hiking; backcountry camping – $3/day; $5/3 day; $30/annual.

Difficulty: Moderate due to lots of creek crossings, many fallen trees and a couple short scrambles to up to the arch

Trail Notes: During periods of little rain the falls will be small but will make for easier hiking as there are multiple creek crossings

Waypoints: Hopewell Arch (37.82715, -83.57763)

Summary: Jump to the Summary for a quick breakdown of the hike.

A couple of weekends back The Girl and I headed back to Red River Gorge to hike Copperas Falls trail and Cloudsplitter. This article will cover Copperas Falls and a quick side hike to Hopewell Arch.

The Girl hiking Copperas Falls Trail along Copperas Creek
The Girl hiking Copperas Falls Trail

The trail heads out along an unmarked trail just off the side of the road. You will start off hiking along Copperas Creek but slowly and very gradually gain a little elevation. While hiking, you will be looking down on the creek. This lasts for ~0.5 miles before you will cross the creek and take the turn off for Hopewell Arch.

The view down on the dry creek bed of Copperas Creek
The view down on the dry creek bed of Copperas Creek

The turnoff is easy to miss, so keep an eye out for it. Once you find the trail it is easy to follow. It builds in steepness, and just before the arch, there is a short scramble up some rocks to reach Hopewell Arch (37.82715, -83.57763).  The entire trail, but this section in particular, is very lush and almost seems enchanted feeling in nature.  

Beefsteak fungus - Fistulina hepatica - By far the biggest fungus I have seen. It was beautiful in this light
Beefsteak fungus – Fistulina hepatica – By far the biggest fungus I have seen. It was beautiful in this light

The arch and surroundings are very pretty. This is not the typical arch style that you see in the Gorge. That being said, some of the pictures you see online make the arch and cove seem much more grandiose than it is.

Hopewell Arch from inside
Hopewell Arch from inside

After you explore Hopewell Arch, you will head back down to the creek to hike on towards Copperas Falls.  When we hiked the trail, the creek bed was largely dry. This made the hike easier. I suspect after heavy rains this hike would be substantially more difficult with higher water levels and a lot more mud.

View of Hopewell Arch while hiking up the trail
View of Hopewell Arch while hiking up the trail

The trail is not the easiest to follow, but if you stay along the creek, you will make your way to the falls. The difficulty in this hike comes in the multiple creek crossings, and during the time of our hike, the many downed trees that you have to traverse.

Cliff wall along Copperas Creek and Copperas Trail
Cliff wall along Copperas Creek and Copperas Trail

As you make it to the waterfalls, the trail opens up to a concave cliffside which the falls cascade down into a large sandy watering hole. The falls were rather small during our hike but still beautiful nonetheless.

Copperas Falls
Copperas Falls

We grabbed a snack, took a rest break, and enjoyed our time exploring the rocks and woods around the falls. After we had our share of the falls, we headed back out from the way we came. We will definitely be back to see the falls after a heavy rainfall, to explore the falls more, and to search out a few more arches in the area.

The Girl resting under Copperas Falls
The Girl resting under Copperas Falls

Summary: The Copperas Falls Trail is a relatively flat trail with several creek crossings, many downed trees traversing, and with multiple route-finding options. The trail can be challenging and the falls will vary based on recent rainfalls. Don’t let these challenges stop you as the falls are wonderful and should definitely be checked out. Adding on the side hike of Hopewell arch adds in a little more elevation, a rock scramble, and a pretty arch. If you are looking to add on another hike to this one, consider Eagles Nest which leaves from the same parking area. Cloudsplitter, and Indian Staircase are also close by and are good options depending on what you are looking for in your hike.

Thank you again for reading and I hope you found this helpful.

As always, have fun, take care of yourself, and please be courteous to others out on the trails.

Published by Natural Wanderer

NaturalWanderer.com

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