Tim’s Rail-Trail Experience


The rumbling thunder and eerie whistle of a train drifts up the valley behind me. Even though I know that the train can’t follow me along this long-abandoned path, I still feel chills at its seeming closeness. It’s like that all the time on the trail–you’re never too far away to hear the sound of the nearby Norfolk Southern railroad. And as you take the twists and turns along this old railroad bed and ponder its history, you can’t help imagining a train coming at you just around the corner.

High BridgeI few minutes before, I left my car back at High Bridge Park and after taking a few photos of the famous High Bridge, I set out on the trail. Almost immediately the forest engulfs me. Birds call back and forth and flit about. The trail follows the top of an old embankment. In places the old railroad ties are still somewhat intact.

After crossing a meadow and the rear of a junkyard, I come into an area cut through the rock. I pass between mossy rock walls on my left and rock and rubble on my right. A few minutes after entering the gap, I find some old concrete footers and what looks like a cistern.

Soon the rock wall of the cut ends providing the first good views of the Kentucky River. The trail is surprisingly high above the river. The rhythmic thudding of a boat motor calls to me. As if to emphasize the history of the trail, a paddleboat is making its way upstream. The faint voice of the Shakertown riverboat tour guide drifts up the cliff. Eventually the boat turns and heads back downstream and the quiet sounds of nature return.

The trail was obviously carved out of the rock along the cliff. Through the forest here a rock wall is always on left of the trail, at times towering far above me. Sometimes the trail seems to be farther from the wall. Perhaps there were once two tracks here? The path is wide enough.

The trail travels out onto a short embankment. Down to the right huge stones are stacked together. “What’s that?” I wonder. An old fort? A rock fence? I scramble down the slope to the top of the stones. It appears to be a large retaining wall, put here to keep the trail above from washing into the river far below. Standing on them they’re almost as wide as a sidewalk. There is a good view of the brown-green Kentucky River.