Ridge Trail to Hensley Settlement

With 2,000 vertical feet, the hike to Hensley Settlement is a challenging mountain adventure. Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is Kentucky’s only mountain national park and sees the fraction of visitors that other parks and forests see. Why? It’s not easy to get to the Hensley Flats, a mountain-top grassland that the Hensley-Gibson families cultivated and lived for decades. The shortest route to Hensley is via Chadwell Gap, a 4-mile one-way trip. It’s steep. The next option is via the Civic Park trailhead, an 8-mile one-way trip. It’s steep and long. But, you’ll visit incredible destinations and overlooks, including the White Rocks overlook and Sand Cave, one of the largest rock shelters in the region. For an epic day or overnight, start at the Wilderness Road campground and take the Gibson Gap Trail to the Ridge Trail. You’ll be alone in the wilderness. When you get to Hensley, prepare yourself for a proper, crystal-clear mountain high.

Banjo tune, Cumberland Gap, performed by Rich Kirby @appalshop

Backpacking tips. This national park requires a free permit to camp in the backcountry. The cabin at Martins Fork, with three bunk beds and a fireplace, can be rented. Black bears are very active in the park. Drinking water can be hard to find on the Ridge Trail. Hensley Settlement has a water spigot that is available from spring through fall. The larger streams flow all year. The maps in the video show campsites. Hit me up for additional tips. Get lost and have a blast.

Leave a Reply


Your Cart