Mammoth Cave National Park

Hank – We decided to chance getting a camp site at the national park and use the three campgrounds outside the park on KY highway 70 as a fall back. The ride went pretty smooth even though the heat poured on pretty quickly. Fortunately, we were in the shade for two of our three long climbs.

We came to the last turn taking us to the campground and a young man on a bicycle was at the intersection. He told us he had just ridden up the trail. He said it’ll take us straight to the campground and that it’s pretty level and it’s only about a mile.

I don’t know about that. We followed the trail to where it ended and became a single track, but more of a hiking trail. There was one turn before that but the sign warned of extreme steepness. So we rode back to the road and followed that the remaining 2-1/2 miles to the campground.

Available camp sites are handed out at noon. We were an hour early. We went to the nearby camp store and had a sandwich and cold drink. Then we waited. At noon we were first in line and there were plenty of sites available.

We set up the tent, put our bags inside, and cleaned up a little. Then we walked to the visitor center to see what tours we could do. All the tours were booked up so we did the self-guided historic cave tour. The historic cave entrance is just a huge cave. If you’re looking for beautiful geology, this is not your tour. But you get to walk into a huge cave. Plus, in this heat is was so nice and cool down there.

Coming back to the campground we found a couple of ladies on bicycles. One was trying to use a CO2 cartridge to add air to her tire. She didn’t have a flat. She was just really low. I didn’t know how this particular brand of pump worked so I offered the use of my pump at the campsite. So Christy and Jessie of Chicago accompanied us to our site. While we talked I aired up both of Christy’s tires. They thought our adventure sounded great and wished us safe travels.

My friend, Jacque, in Spokane got in touch with me. A long time friend of his, John Turnan, and his wife Janet are also here at the national park. They live near Akron, Ohio. Our schedules didn’t work out well enough to have dinner together but we did get to connect when they stopped by our campsite. They love to cycle and have ridden quite a few trails across the country, including the Hiawatha in North Idaho. John did warn us against riding the trail here. Yes, we know.

Kathy – As we were leaving Bowling Green, Kentucky this morning I noticed a Fruit if the Loom business right near the hotel we stayed in last night. Apparently their world corporate headquarters is located here. The Corvette Museum was good yesterday, no need for an undergarments tour today. 🙈

Since we decided to visit Mammoth Caves National Park we only rode 28 miles today. It was another hot and hilly ride.

I’m sure the guy encouraging us to get on the trail rather than staying on the road had good intentions, but I wondered if he really understood that we were not mountain biking. He said it was only one mile to the visitors center, flat and the trail consisted of only pea sized rocks. Well, he was wrong on all three things. After a mile of riding on sometimes thick gravel and small rocks, meandering up and down inclines Hank suggested we turn around and go back to the road. Great idea!…Smart guy!

We arrived, set up the tent and headed over to the cave area. I was not super impressed with Mammoth Cave in comparison to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Don’t get me wrong, Mammoth Cave is huge, branching out more than 365 miles. They just don’t have all the spectacular formations like Carlsbad Caverns had. I’m only basing my opinions on the small amount of cave we actually saw. Maybe we missed seeing the best part of the caves since the tours were sold out. Mammoth Cave really is amazing with all the sink holes nearby and the massive size of the cave system. I’d come see it again in a car, but not on a bike. 😊

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