Mantle Rock, located in Western Kentucky near the Ohio River, is the largest freestanding, naturally formed stone arch east of the Mississippi River. The 188-foot-long formation rises to 30 feet above ground level. Some retellings of the Cherokee Trail of Tears saga suggest that the Cherokee, who were being force-marched to Indian Territory, took refuge under the arch during the exceptionally cold winter of 1838-1839. There is little doubt that thousands of Cherokee men, women and children had to wait in the area for the Ohio River to thaw before crossing on a ferry, but whether any significant number of Cherokee camped under Mantle Rock is unlikely. This is because the area under the stone arch isn’t large enough to shelter the thousands of Cherokee who were on the trail at that time.
Today, the stone arch is part of the Mantle Rock Nature Preserve established by the Nature Conservancy. A moderately short walking trail leads from the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail through a wooded area to Mantle Rock. Nearing the trail’s end, the jaw dropping rock arch comes suddenly into view. It’s well worth the walk.
Facts & Information
Highway 137/135 follow the Ohio River in this area and makes a fun ride on the way to Mantle Rock. Another fun nearby road is HWY 453 which begins in Smithland and runs south through Land Between the Lakes to Dover, TN.
Recommended Lodging: Patti's Inn and Suites
Located 40 miles away from Mantle Rock in Grand Rivers, KY, Patti's is a nice place to rest for the night. Patti's welcomes motorcyclists while they are on the road.
Best Time to Travel
You can visit Mantle Rock any time of year. Although winter might make for a chilly ride, there will be less visitors during the colder "off season".