Cedar Sink Trail in Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

This short trail through Mammoth Cave’s forest features one of the parks most intriguing features (aside from the caves), the sink holes! There are sink holes throughout the park, but this short trail places hikers up close to the action.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Level: Moderate, steps

Dog Friendly: Yes

Fees: No Entrance Fees at Mammoth Cave NP

Location & Parking

From the Visitor’s Center, head south on Mammoth Cave Parkway. Take a right on Brownsville Road and watch for signs for Cedar Sink Road. Take a left onto Cedar Sink Road. The parking area will be on the left, hard to miss. At the parking area, there is an informational sign about the area. The parking area isn’t large, but we didn’t have any issues finding a parking space.

Needle Trail

A needle trail starts with a trail that leads out on a single path then splits into a loop. The loop leads back to the original path to be followed back to the beginning to complete the hike. Simple enough.

Terrain: The trail is well maintained and the path is smooth. The gravel and packed dirt path is pretty easy. The reason for the moderate rating is due to the steps involved around the sink hole. There is a great deal of steps both descending and ascending 150 feet one way in and out of the sink hole.

Straight: The straight portion of this trail is very pleasant with a mild incline. Check out the streams flowing under the trail during times of higher water.

Loop: The loop is where things get interesting. We went to the left, per our 3 year old’s request, and were met with a steep incline. The loop goes around the sink hole and meets back at the main trail for the return hike.


Cedar Sink Trail is one of the best places in Mammoth Cave NP to view wildflowers. Take time to admire the wildflowers in the area along the trail. My little photographer made many stops to snap photos of the flora along the way. This trail truly did have the most wildflowers that we saw in the park.

Above the Sink Hole

The ridge above the sink hole offers views of the Cedar Sink hole from above, revealing it’s vast size. There is a look out area on the south side of the sink hole. It’s a small deck leaning over a small section. Hikers can make a loop around the hole and venture inside.

Inside the Sink Hole

On both the south side and north side of the sink hole, there are steps giving access to the lower sections of this massive sink hole. What’s wild is that there are overlooks inside of the sink hole, it’s that deep.

Shelf: Upon descending the steps on the south side of the loop, hikers are brought to an overlook trail along a rocky cliff. At the end of this cliff overlook, hikers can see across the sink hole to the other side and have a view of the slop below while standing below the shelf.

Sink hole Bottom: After viewing the shelf, the trail leads further into the sink hole. It’s very cool how much life is inside the sink hole. Trees are growing, critters are roaming. Its a whole ecosystem. There is an informational sign explaining about Cedar Sink Hole and Cedar Creek at the bottom, just before ascending the steps on the other side.

Dogs on Trail

Bringing dogs on our adventures makes the experience that much more memorable! There are a few things to be aware of at Mammoth Cave National Park when traveling with your dog.

Leash: Dogs must be on leash

Ticks: Be aware, ticks are abundant in Mammoth Cave NP.

Heat: The temperatures can be brutal much of the year in Kentucky. Brutal from a Northerner standpoint. Be sure to bring water along for your canine hiking partner.

Follow Trail Etiquette: Follow trail etiquette with your adventure dog to keep everyone having a great time. For more on trail etiquette see Trail Etiquette for Adventure Dogs.

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