My sister Shelley, my son Jason, my dad and his wife Betty made a trip to the Sand Cave almost 20 years ago via horseback. We are planning to take the trip again. This time it will be my sister and her husband Mark and her son Ryan along with me and Carol and no horseback due to Carol's shaky relationship with horses. We are trying to find the best route with the most driving and least walking and certainly the least amount of steep hiking as we're all old and out of shape :) (Except for Ryan of course). So here's what I have so far from some Internet and Google Earth research:
There are some great pictures of the sand caves area on google earth. I think we should take the tour to hensley settlement and then hike to the sand caves from there. Looking at it from google earth, that makes the most sense. And since we will be coming at the sand caves from the east instead of from the west, we will not have to venture through white rock.
We will need to take 4-wheel drive vehicles to make the journey.
Not sure if you sent this link or saw it, but it was a good one:
Access to Hensley Settlment from Harlan County is by the way of primitive "Hensley Settlment Road" up the steep face of Brush Mountain. Take KY 987 to Cubage. Click Here for Google Directions. The road is open to four-wheel drive vehicles, horseback riding and hiking only. ATV's are not permitted. No vehicles or horses permitted inside the settlement.
Bus tours to the settlement are available through Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. Call (606) 248-2817 or Click Here for more information.
And it led to the one you did send at:
Hensley Settlement Tours
Join park rangers and step into the past at the historic Hensley Settlement on top of Brush Mountain. Stroll down fence-lined lanes, step into the blacksmith's shop, look into the springhouse and sit in the one-room schoolhouse. The Hensley Settlement was established in 1904 by Sherman Hensley and was occupied until 1951. The historic buildings remain and can be visited on this 3 1/2 to 4 hour tour.
The tours depart from the visitor center and involve a shuttle ride to the settlement. For the one mile walk through the settlement, comfortable walking shoes and clothing are a must. Bring a light snack and drink.
Tour has limited capacity. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to one month in advance by calling the park visitor center at (606) 248-2817.
Ticket Prices Adults- $10.00 Seniors with a Senior Pass - $5.00 Children under the age of 12 - $5.00
Schedule May 22 - October 31 Daily at 9:00 am and 1:30 pm
From Hensley Settlement we can hike to the sand caves. Looking strictly at the Lat/Long coordinates, the hike would be about 3 miles one way. That is quite a hike. We are talking about walking 6 miles for the day.
I used google earth to locate the coordinates and then used the coordinates to calculate distance using an app on the internet. I can't find any Cumberland Gap parks official information on the hike from Hensley Settlement to the sand cave. But I find lots of information on the internet where folks have hiked the Ewing trail to white rock, sand cave and Hensley Settlement. That hike has tended to be a 3-day excursion.
It would be MUCH easier on horseback!