This pretty Kentucky waterfall shows the aftermath of an F3 tornado

Running through the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky, Broke Leg Falls consists of several streams and waterfalls, with the main attraction cascading 60 feet into a picturesque canyon. A short, family-friendly trail takes visitors through the picturesque surroundings to come face-to-face with the falls and their enveloping splendor; however, a freak weather event destroyed much of what this place once was, as evidenced by ground damage and tree debris scattered around the site, which nonetheless remains beautiful in a dark and creepy way. . Despite the F-3 tornado that wreaked havoc in the area, Broke Leg Falls remains one of Kentucky’s most magnificent places to visit and never fails to enchant its nature-loving visitors, as does the site and the intriguing surrounding history that played a strong role in America’s past.


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The story of broken leg falls

Broke Leg Falls in Kentucky is one of the oldest tourist attractions in the state, located just a 20-minute drive north of the Red River Gorge. It has been a popular stop for the better part of a century; With an illustrious history as a cabin weekend retreat, an adult dance hall, and a failed state park, they make it worth a visit, especially for those interested in mid-century America. XX.

Located on Kentucky Highway 460 near the small town of Wellington, the site’s first owners noted its natural beauty and decided to capitalize on its charm by marketing the destination at the turn of the century.

At a time when car travel was gaining traction and the Route 66 road trip craze was attracting a national audience, bringing economic prosperity to this rural area became an attractive and viable option, with nearly every conceivable idea deployed to attract visitors to Menifee County.

In 1958, Broke Leg Falls was declared an official State Park of Kentucky, bringing tourist and therefore economic success as it attracted hordes of visitors. This refreshing period of popularity brought some much-needed economic activity to the area, but that great financial success was not to last. In fact, Highway 460 was one of the main lifelines between Lexington and the many southeastern Appalachian counties, stretching all the way to West Virginia.

With the ever-changing landowners of Broke Leg Falls, the business tactics they put in place to persuade the public to stop and pay their 10-cent fee to see the falls also adapted, techniques that allowed them to get it right, albeit for a short time. .

Just five years after the state park opened, the newly constructed Mountain Parkway toll road opened, effectively rendering Highway 460 useless and redirecting traffic. As traffic flow slowed, attendance at the park dropped, leading the state to abandon the site and sell it again soon after.

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In the 1980s, the land was turned over to private owners, after which it lay virtually abandoned for fifty years, lying dormant until 2002, when Menifee County repurchased the property and began maintaining it.

The county then launched a ten-year project to restore the falls, incorporating the construction of a new gazebo, hiking trails and a picnic area to make the site an attraction worthy of tourist attention once again, and that is exactly what the campaign teams achieved. Sadly though, their jobs and the resulting success weren’t meant to be.

After the park and its falls were finally refurbished for public enjoyment and things seemed to improve, the site was sadly hit by an EF-3 tornado just six months after reopening.

The Broke Leg Falls tornado tore through the park, striking the landscape and dramatically altering it. A lot of work and money had gone into restoring and reopening the park, meaning the natural disaster was particularly devastating to local communities; all the love and effort put into revitalizing it felt like it was wasted, as much of it was erased in a matter of minutes.

Following the tornado’s destruction, the county began restoring the site once again in a fervent effort to clean it back to its former glory, removing fallen logs and tree stumps left behind by the wild wind.

However, officials acknowledged that the heavy machinery used as part of the cleanup efforts was doing more harm than good; the delicate ecology of the gorge and the ecosystems within the park could not withstand the heavy works, which became a burden on natural structures and put pressure on wildlife.

As a result, the county decided to leave the area alone, rather than let nature take its course and repair itself.

Park officials chose to leave debris behind to let nature do what it does best, which has left the scars reminiscent of that fateful natural event for all to behold.

Although the site was left in the trustworthy hands of Mother Nature, the stairs and bridge at the falls were rebuilt several years after the tornado tore through the park, at a total cost of more than $38,000.


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Even with some rebuilding efforts, the falls and most of its trails are still blocked off, providing an enchanting yet spooky realm ideal for exploration, some of which can be difficult to access, such as the abandoned footbridge over the creek.

Still, the main trail offers a wonderful easy hiking opportunity for walkers who want to enjoy the park’s scenery and history; Though tragedy struck this place is a stunning hidden gem off the beaten path in Kentucky, once rarely visited, gentle to explore, and beautiful to behold.

All that remains is this last burning question: how did Broke Leg Falls get its name? Local folklore tells of an ox that was gored and broke its leg, after which the stream water carried it rapidly over the cliff and into the gorge below.

Whether the story is true or not, it’s a spectacular place on the map to discover, one that’s perfect for lovers of US history.

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How to get to the broken leg falls

Getting to Broke Leg Falls is very easy; it’s posted on most map apps, including Google Maps, which is easy to follow. The falls are located directly off Kentucky Highway 460 near Wellington, KY 40387.

When is the best time to visit Broke Leg Falls?

The Broke Leg Falls Trail is open to visitors year-round and is always beautiful to hike, no matter what the season. That said, it is not recommended to go during a dry spell as the creek is very small and the waterfall can dry up when there has been little rain.

Are dogs allowed at the broken leg falls?

Dogs are allowed on the Broke Leg Falls hike, but must be kept on a leash. Remember to bring a portable pet bowl and water bottle for your four-legged friend in the summer; it can get quite hot and your pet will need plenty to drink in the heat!

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What to see in broken leg falls

At only half a kilometer, this pretty but simple out and back trail at Broke Leg Falls near Wellington, Kentucky takes about seven minutes to complete at a brisk pace. Short and sweet, the walking route takes visitors up a few flights of concrete steps to see the waterfall in all its remaining majesty, which is fed by its namesake, Broke Leg Creek.

Plunging 60 feet into a wooded gorge outside the Appalachian town of Frenchburg, the falls also attract bold explorers curious enough to descend into the massive cavernous rock shelter hidden behind them, through which people can walk.

A platform below the bottom of the steps grants a more serene view of the falls from a unique angle and is a sublime space to soak up the solitude on a lazy day; however, it takes a bit of effort to access.

Additionally, an unofficial path continues behind the falls, while another to the left of the nearby parking lot opens up a series of smaller waterfalls that present access to the swallow’s water.

Of course, there are the waterfalls, lush trees, and mysterious canyon to see and explore here, all with visible signs of the powerful tornado that hit the area, but this spot is also a popular trail for wildlife viewing and bird watching. , so bringing a camera and a pair of binoculars for the trail is never a bad choice.

Last but not least, of all the things not to forget when heading out for a long hike, trail lovers should bring comfortable shoes when hiking Broke Leg Falls; it can be a short excursion; however, all it takes is one pair of ill-fitting, inappropriate shoes to ruin the beauty, serenity, and enjoyment of this peaceful place in Kentucky.

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