By Jeremy Patton
Cove Falls is located in Daniel Boone National Forest in Laurel County, Kentucky.
It is actually a series of four waterfalls that I found on the bluffs of the Rockcastle River. I suspect that there are more.
I named them “Cove Falls” due to two geologic features: 1. As you can see on the following map, the waterfalls resided in a deep recess in the south wall, like a cove. 2. Atop the bluff, a stream carved a meandering rock shelter toward Cove Falls #1 then a deep, cove-like recess before its final plunge. I have seen countless rock shelters, but this one was unique.
It is difficult to come up with original names for hundreds of waterfalls. I do not claim the authority to name them, I just do so for writing purposes.
Another interesting attribute of the waterfalls was that most of them originated from springs. I do not think that they ran deep underground, but making sense of the waterways was sometimes confusing.
I first explored this section of the Rockcastle on 3/20/17 after a long hike in Rock Creek RNA. It was late when I passed over the waterfalls and ran out of daylight before finding a way down.
I got an early start on 3/29/17 and headed straight for the Cove Falls area. After passing the familiar crests, I descended via an unnamed ravine then hugged the cliffs west. A ghost-trail led me along much of the route, but it often vanished, so I followed the terrain and used my compass.
I cannot provide precise directions until I get more familiar with the area, which might have to wait until fall. Warm weather had arrived, making me paranoid of snakes even while wearing snake-guards. The remote Cove Falls would be a terrible place to get bitten.
The following is an account of what I found while hiking west:
I climbed up from the ravine, met the cliffs then found “Hole Arch.” I usually do not name arches too small for a human to pass through, but I like this one.
Cove Falls #2 was a single-tier waterfall with a traversable ledge near its base. It was high and thin, but flowed stronger than I expected.
Cove Falls #1 was impressive from top to bottom. As earlier stated, I discovered its crest near a cove-esque rock shelter. Its first tier stepped down into the cove before the stream jumped off the cliff. I was unable to obtain good photos of either tier due to the terrain. I cannot overstate the uniqueness of the rock shelter.
The third tier took the form of a stepping cascade. The fourth tier funneled into a chute, slammed against a boulder then sprayed onto the rocks. Cove Falls #1 was by far my favorite.
Cove Falls #3 might have been the highest. It was thin, but wider that waterfall #2. The area was spacious, allowing me to admire the drop from far away.
Cove Falls #4 marked my turn-around point because I needed to get back to London for martial arts class. It shot outward from the bluff, forming a watery arc. A hill of breakdown led up to its base. I was certain that more waterfalls lived around the corner, so heading back home was hard.
This off-trail trek was difficult. Please do not attempt it unless you are well-conditioned and understand land navigation. Going in the summer would be a miserable affair.