The Triple Arch of Rock Creek

By Jeremy Patton

The Triple Arch of Rock Creek is located in Rock Creek Research Natural Area (RNA) in Laurel County, Kentucky.

Part of the triple arch complex 3/21/17

I stumbled upon this amazing arch complex during my week-long exploration of Rock Creek RNA. I found no evidence that anyone had visited it.

Of course, other people have probably spotted it, perhaps a logger or forest service official. Regardless, it resides in an isolated area without trails. It is in pristine condition and I want to keep it that way. I will not reveal its location.

My jaw dropped at first sight. There were two distinct pillars, but upon closer examination, the second pillar was still attached to the cliff. If I return in a thousand years, maybe the second pillar will have achieved separation, creating a fourth arch.

The rock shelter was approximately six to eight feet high, depending on where I stood. The second arch resided in the back, just high enough to crawl through. The third arch was hidden in the darkness, hanging from the roof. It looked quite fragile.

The narrow arch in the back of the rock shelter

Inverted arch

I consider Triple Arch one of my greatest discoveries (Bee Rock Arch is still closest to my heart). It represents what I love most about exploration: finding unknown, unspoiled natural wonders – experiencing Kentucky as it was before Europeans or even Native Americans arrived.

Rock Creek RNA is difficult and dangerous. Do not venture there unless you are an experienced hiker.

Notice the inverted arch to the left of the pillar

Added 3/23/17