I decided to take a quick after work MTB ride out around the Natural Bridge area. I only had a couple hours of daylight to work with so this one was a short out-and-back. (Daylight savings time hit a couple days after this and really limited my daylight hours after work.) The trail I landed on was a partial segment of Sheltowee Trace Section 15. Sections 15, 16, and 17 are the only sections of the Sheltowee Trace in the Natural Bridge/RRG area that allow mountain biking so keep that in mind when heading out.
To get to this segment, take Route 1036 to Sterling Rd/Big Bend Rd. There is also the option of parking at one of the wide spots off 1036 and biking the gravel road, but I didn't have time for that after work, so I drove in.
There are a few houses at the mouth of Big Bend but this route is public so keep right on trucking. It appeared there was a bit of logging being done when I went out there so you may need to be a little cautious. You come to the parking area as shown here:
You can Google Street View the entire drive up to the parking area. More than likely this was done by the Sheltowee Trace Association, which is really, really cool.
The first bit of this ride is doubletrack with a few tank traps thrown here and there.
Eventually the topsoil erodes to bare sandstone and that's when the fun starts. There isn't a lot of elevation change, as this follows a ridge, but when you find the sandstone be ready for some small drops and rock ledges.
The ridge narrows along one of these sandstone areas and that's when you'll get your best Instagram worthy shot. You'll see the ridges and cliffs that make this area famous.
I'm not very familiar with the RRG/Natural Bridge area, but I wish I was, so I have no idea where any of the arches or waterfalls are... Sorry. However, research says this trail is real close (if not on, see pic above..??) White's Branch Arch - I haven't a clue. Moving on...
The trail wanders on until you find a fork, uphill and downhill. The uphill is the only side that I've explored and it leads you to another trail that is off limits to bikes. Apparently this is close to Natural Bridge, so don't push your luck. The downhill fork doesn't appear to be very well traveled, if open at all.
So, like I said, this was a short out-and-back but working half hour away it was more than worth it. I plan to hit a few more in the area once the daylight hours start to stretch out again. Otherwise, this is a pretty confusing area to find good mountain biking. I found myself driving around on gravel roads as much as anything.
The Natural Bridge/Red River Gorge area is popular for a reason. This place is worth spending a weekend exploring, I just wouldn't plan on clicking off miles on the pedaler. Hike in, camp, take a few pics in your ENO but leave your bicycle locked up in the car. You might stumble across a mile or two of bike accessible singletrack on the way out.