While the underground beauty of Mammoth Cave National Park is well known, the 84 miles of trails above ground invites hikers to tour some of Kentucky's most pristine old-growth forests and contemplate the idea of hiking over the roof of the world's longest cave system. The hikes within Mammoth Cave National Park are divided into the frontcountry, south of the Green River, and backcountry to the north. The two park regions are connected via the free Green River Ferry, which can be a long wait during busy mid day hours.
The trailhead for the Buffalo Creek and Sal Hollow Loop is located in the backcountry at the Maple Springs Trailhead. There is free parking and a pit toilet at the trailhead. There is no running water. The hike is enjoyable in either direction, and it is a dual-use hiking and equestrian trail. Users are treated to mossy creeks with many small waterfalls and disappearing streams because the water seeps into the cave system below. Along the trail are many sinkholes as well as entrances to the Mammoth Cave System. Of note, you do need a special permit to explore inside any cave within park boundaries. In spring and late summer wildflowers fill the valleys. The Sal Hollow backcountry campsite is at the halfway point of this trail. The Bluffs Campsite is also accessible from this trail via a 0.6-mile spur trail. Backcountry permits are available at the visitor center. Be prepared for ticks, mosquitoes, and hot humid weather, if you'll be hiking during the summer months.