Hike Rock Bridge Loop to Pooch Turtle Falls and Turtle Back Arch

5 miles  - Loop Trail

Added by Curtis Liska

An awesome side trail from Rock Bridge Loop with a waterfall and hidden arch!

Extend your Rock Bridge Loop and explore more areas of the Clifty Wilderness Area of Daniel Boone National Forrest. 

From Rock Bridge Loop (#207) take Swift Camp Creek Trail (#219).  Along the way catch views of Hell's Kitchen over the steep drop-off on the right-hand side of the trail.  Half way through the hike the trail briefly disappears as you hike through Mossy Rocks, a shallow creek area carved through a narrow sandstone corridor.  Continue through this area for another half mile until you reach a small spring that cuts across the trail.  This is the topside of Pooch Turtle Falls.  For a better view of the falls, you will need to scramble down to the creek below.  There are several access points on either side of the stream, but use caution when scrambling down.  

After exploring Pooch Turtle Falls, there are two options to return to the parking lot at the trailhead.  The first, and easiest, option is to simply return the way you came. If you're feeling adventurous, scramble back up to the trail and cross over the stream described above.  Once you cross the stream there is a small backpacking trail immediately to your left.  Hike past the backcountry campsite on the left and follow the trail up the hill.  This will lead you to the top of a rock ridgeline.  Continue to the left along the ridgeline.  This portion of the trail involves a few small scrambles so again, use caution.  After the second scramble there is another small trail to the left of the ridge. Follow this around the ridge a short distance to uncover the hidden Turtle Back Arch! 

To return to the parking lot, return the ridge line and complete two additional scrambles.  This will lead you to another unmarked backpacking trail.  Follow this trail for a quarter mile until it dead-ends into another backpacking trail.  Make a left and follow this trail for half mile until you reach the gravel Rock Bridge Road.  Make a left at the gravel road back to the parking lot. 

A word of caution: this return route does involve several unmarked backpacking trails so good GIS-maps are recommended.  You can find some of the best from the guys at OutrageGIS Mapping.

If you have the time, check out Creation Falls as well. 

Enjoy exploring!

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This hike can be done in a half day or overnight trip. There are a few camping spots along the trails. Go early to grab a place to stay.

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