Sand Gap


Natural Bridge

Route 66 Cities Beaches

Sand Gap is the longest trail in the Natural Bridge system. From the Bridge it extends nine miles around to the base of the chairlift. For this trip, we recommend taking the chairlift up to the ridge, then walking the short distance to the Bridge. But if you prefer to park at the lodge, hike up The Original Trail to the Bridge, and then, when you get back around to the chairlift hiking the one mile along the road back to your car, this means a total distance of about 12 miles. However, it's fairly easy walking, a mostly level stroll along a packed sand trail. The trail follows Sand Gap Ridge back from the pavillion at the top of the Bridge. In eight miles the trail only occasionally drops off the ridge, the most notable of which is Sand Gap, where the first ridge ends and across the gap a second ridge begins. You have to descend and then reclimb to resume your ridgetop walk.

Sand Gap is a great hike for Spring, when you can enjoy the wildflowers, and Fall, when you can enjoy the leaf colors. In Summer it gets pretty hot and humid. But whichever season you go, you'll be rewarded by long vistas out across the ridges and valleys, and spectacular views back across Hoods Valley to Natural Bridge.

High on these ridges, lightning often strikes. Notice at the far end of this tree the charred black trunk. if you hike at Natural Bridge often you'll see a lot of these trees, which the trail crews have to keep clearing off the trails.


You will be hiking along the top of the ridge near Torrent Falls, where they built the first Via Ferrata course in America. Via Ferrata is a series of hand and foot holds mounted in the rock, and then a heavy steel cable strung from handhold to handhold. You wear a harness and hook yourself to the cable in two places at all times so if you start to fall the cable catches you. Torrent Falls is a horseshoe shaped "cirque" in the rock. It would take a skilled, experienced and conditioned person about 4-5 hours to complete the whole circuit, which begins very easy and proceeds in increments up to very difficult. The average person gets about halfway around.









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