Friday, April 8, 2022

Our Second and Final Week at Diamond Caverns RV Park

Shepard's Purse wildflowers at Mammoth Cave

Diamond Caverns RV Park.  Site A-11, back in
Weather: Highs--59, 56, 45, 50, 67, 72, 70, 69
                Lows--42, 39,33, 30, 55, 57, 61, 57, 43
The weather has been crazy....One night we had wind gusts up to 50 mph, but amazingly did not lose power. The coach was a rockin' and a rollin'! Temperatures are all over the place this April, and it's raining a LOT!

In between the rains, Sparky has been hiking the trails inside Mammoth Cave National Park, and biking the Bike 'n' Hike Trail from the campground to the visitor's center and back, for a distance of about 14.6 miles, several times a week.
Swamp along the bike trail

If you want to hike the trails inside the national park, most of them are very short and lead in and out to other trails. By combining them, you can get a nice longer hike in. The longest trail in the park, the Green River Bluffs Trail, is a little over a mile (1.3) until you pick up another trail to add to your hike. The Hike and Bike Trail shown below, doesn't look too bad, does it? Until you get up close and personal with it. More about that in a bit.....

Mammoth Cave Hike and Bike Trail

1. Dixon Cave Trail--0.5 mi....Cool steps lead away from a cave entrance that is not open to the public.
2. Echo River Spring Trail--0.6 mi...easy loop trail, wheelchair accessible, where an underground river is seen exiting a cave. You can also see the ferry system on this trail.
3. Heritage Trail--0.5 mi., easy accessible trail, information boards along the way...
4. River Styx Spring Trail- 0.4 mi., moderate trail with LOTS of steps and some elevation change. You can access several of the other trails from this one.
5. Two Springs Trail--0.6 mi., easy to moderate trail
6. Sinkhole Trail--1.0 moderate trail, view Mammoth Dome Sink and see White's Cave, (not open to the public).
7. Cedar Sink Trail--1.0 mi., moderate trail with very large sinkhole. Several sets of stairs, good workout!
8. Sloan's Crossing Pond Walk--0.4 mil, accessible boardwalk around a small pond. This pond is off the Mammoth Cave Parkway before you get to the visitor's center. A small pond, not much wildlife, but you never know what's there unless you go see!
9. Turnhole Bend Nature Trail--0.5 mi, moderate trail with stairs, views of small sinkholes and the Green River.  Located at the Brownsville Road turn off of Mammoth Cave Parkway, before arriving at the visitor's center.
10. Mammoth Cave Railroad Hike and Bike Trail--9 miles one way if you go all the way from Park City to the visitor's center inside the national park. It's 7.3 miles one way from Thousand Trails Diamond Caverns RV park. It's a STRENUOUS, rocky trail, very hilly, and according to Sparky's Apple watch, it's over 400 feet in elevation change.

a better section of the trail
There are steep hills immediately on the trail where you get on right outside the Diamond Caverns offices across the street from the RV park. Sparky had to get off her bike more than once to make it up the hills. Then the trail levels off for a bit, but then winds up and down in smaller hillier sections. There's a REALLY steep section as you get closer to the two, newly renovated wooden bridge sections. Sparky can ride down it with the brakes on all the way, but has to walk her bike back up to the top, on the way back home. The renovated bridge sections are so nice! You can still smell the new wood as they just had finished them before we got to the park. They have gentle friction speed bump strips, at least that's what Sparky thinks they are, to slow your speed down as you descend coming back from Mammoth Cave. On the old bridge, it was brakes on all the way back down!

The trail is about 50% larger sized gravel. They are actually more like rocks. It is a bone jarring, teeth rattling ride for about half the way. You better have great tires if you take this trail! Some of the trail is very soft sand near some wooden boardwalks so your tires then sink and slide. It's hard to enjoy the forest scenery when you have to be dodging big rocks with your bike tires.  Sparky has ridden this trail MANY times in our visits here, maybe at least ten times, and has never seen any deer until her last bike ride. Two deer came moseying along and crossed the trail right in front of her, a few yards ahead. Other than that, it's a sparse forest right now, being that it's  early spring.

More cave tours have opened up this time. The green buses are running services to other cave site locations. Here are brief descriptions for some of them but check out the national park website for more details. There are quite a few tours that have opened back up since Covid restrictions have been relaxed. You still have to wear masks on the buses, however.  Here are the current Green Bus Tours with adult prices: (Be sure to use your senior pass for half price savings if you are old enough!) 
1. Domes and Dripstones--2 hour tour, 500 stairs, 3/4 mile.  $21.00
2. Frozen Niagra Tour-- 1.25 hours, 12 stairs + optional 98. $18.00
3. Violet City Lantern Tour--3 hrs., 3 mi., 160 stairs, hills, no handrails. $25.00
4. AND--Grand Avenue Tour--4 hrs., 4 mi., 1,313 stairs--physically demanding, yep!  $35.00 Sparky is going to hit some cave tours on the next visit.

The Mammoth Cave Hotel is undergoing significant renovations, so it is CLOSED and so is the cafe/restaurant grill there. The bridge over to the hotel is blocked off and the entire area around the hotel fenced off. The hotel is getting a brand new roof and new insulated windows. There is a mobile little cafe building that has been placed out front of the visitor's center with plenty of meal choices and ice cream. (Ice cream? Did she say ice cream????) Eldo really perked up on that.

Back to the trail. The trilliums are starting to poke thru the soil. These are called little sweet Betsy trilliums.

Sparky likes looking for the unusual within the ordinary. Like this bird's eye view through an old tree stump tower.
Or this pretty pattern of lichens and bark together....
The flowering pear trees are in full bloom....
And this area has LOTS and LOTS of redbuds...They are blooming, too!
Just to recap the Diamond Caverns RV park stay...the park is small, the sites are gravel and clay soil, they do have a small laundry, a "quiet room" for watching TV or reading away from your site, a mini golf course and a nice playground for kids...Neighbors are  close but not as close as some parks. It's more of a rural, country park atmosphere.
The park is not close to shopping, the nearest town for a Walmart and chain restaurants is Glasgow, KY, 15 miles away. We're saving money by not eating out much at all! But Cracker Barrel is in Cave City, which is the next exit up, so we have enjoyed a breakfast or two there. And--Glasgow has a Joann Fabrics! Sparky was absolutely delighted to find that out! (So we are not saving at much in fuel costs as we are restaurant costs, laughs Eldo.) 

With that, we get ready to leave Park City, KY, home of the beautiful Mammoth Cave National Park. In a few days, we will be heading towards Indiana, to the Batesville Thousand Trails park. After that, it's on to Howe, IN where we will be back and forth between Howe and Elkhart, IN to see Eldy's son's family, taking care of routine doctor, dentist, and maybe cataract surgeries for the both of us. We shall see.....(pardon the pun!). Thanks for following along with us...Bye for now!

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