The Waterfalls of Angel Hollow

By Jeremy Patton of London, Kentucky

Angel Hollow is located in Daniel Boone National Forest, Laurel County, Kentucky. It is a tributary of Pine Creek.

Angel Hollow Falls #6 from the bushes 1-25-17

The following map lists the major waterfalls that I have found so far. They all reside in ravines, many at dead-ends. (unless you are a mountain climber). There may be additional waterfalls on the higher levels of those ravines. I intend to search for them on future trips, possibly by climbing into the ravines from above the hollow.

Figuring out how to safely enter the hollow was difficult. Read my article, “Pine Creek Gorge and A Lesson Learned” for more information (on the “Overlooks” page). No matter what route you take, it will be hard work.

Pine Creek Gorge and A Lesson Learned

I found Angel Hollow Falls #1 with Robbie and his brother, who showed me the way into the hollow via a power-line clearing on 3/31/15. The rugged terrain of the waterfall’s ravine, which parallels KY-80, made progress difficult. It was worth it though.

Angel Hollow Falls #1 on 3/31/15

An unspectacular waterfall occurs not far downstream after a scramble across some boulders. It is beautiful nonetheless: Angel Hollow Falls #2.

Angel Hollow Falls #2

I did not visit the hollow again for quite a while due to the approach of summer. When I resumed exploration, I tried to re-find Angel Hollow Falls #1 so I could pin-point its exact location. I failed repeatedly — or so I thought. While looking through some pictures recently, I discovered that I had photographed it a second time on 1/2/16 without realizing that it was the same waterfall from the previous year. I felt pretty dumb.

Angel Hollow Falls #1 on 1/2/16

Entering a wilderness area for the first time can be disorienting. All the trees, streams and ravines look the same, but each visit makes them more familiar. In time, you learn to navigate them even without trails. The area becomes a separate world where everything reveals its unique personality.

Angel Hollow Falls #3 resides in the next ravine to the north. It is high and thin with a large rock shelter. A steep slope leads up from the shelter to the top of a cliff. I ascended the slope and was welcomed by a nearly impenetrable jungle of rhodendron and laurel. I was not in the mood for extreme bushwhacking, so I skipped the upper ravine for another day.

Angel Hollow Falls #3

The splendid Angel Hollow Falls #4 lives in the next ravine to the north. It plummets through a break in the cliffs then crashes on the rocks below, creating a series of cascades. The trek to the waterfall is short, but a monumental pain in the ass. The ravine is narrow and its sides are steep; undergrowth snags your every step. I followed its south wall upstream, but the return on the north side was easier along the base of the cliffs.

Angel Hollow Falls #4

The next ravine to the west is oriented nearly north-south; it boasts another ribbon waterfall with a cascade at its base: Angel Hollow Falls #5. The approach takes you across a hill of breakdown. This ravine is more open and airy. It does not feel as imposing as the previous place.

Angel Hollow Falls #5

A natural arch soars on a rock pillar, visible downstream during the leafless months. It is one of several arches I have discovered in the hollow, but this one is the most aesthetic. I feel comfortable revealing its location because it is inaccessible and difficult to deface: Angel Hollow Arch #1.

Angel Hollow Arch #1

Angel Hollow Arch #2 on 1/25/17

Angel Hollow Arch #2 from inside the shelter

The last major waterfall lives in the westernmost ravine. The steep approach of boulders leading to its base is the longest that I have seen in Kentucky: Angel Hollow Falls #6. It has the strongest flow of all, and is also one of the widest.

Angel Hollow Falls #6 on 1-25-17

I suspect that I will find more waterfalls in the future and will update this article as needed.

I do not want the death of a fellow hiker on my conscience, so take heed: Angel Hollow is rugged and isolated. Do not enter unless you are in shape, well-equiped and understand how to use a topographic map and compass. There are no trails (except for a gas-line clearing) and no easy way out.

If you get lost in the hollow, follow the water. All streams flow to Pine Creek. When you reach Pine Creek, follow it upstream (southeast) to KY-80. From there, you should be able to climb up to the highway.

Angel Hollow is a glimpse of what southeast Kentucky looked like before humans arrived. It is one of Laurel County’s great natural treasures. Please leave only footprints and take only photographs.

Old trees in Angel Hollow that escaped logging due to the inaccessibility of the area

Added 2/2/17