RED RIVER GORGE
Day Hiking



Of course, the major activity in the Gorge is hiking. Due to the ingenious design of the trail system in the Gorge, day-hiking loops of many lengths are possible.

Use our Map to find loop hikes of the length you are looking for.

For Day-Hikers, we recommend the following day-hike loops:

1. Gray's Arch / D. Boon Hut Loop. Approximate length: 4 to 5 miles... Start at the Gray's Arch parking area (near trail 205 on the map), walk up the gravel road back the way you came for about 150 feet, then take Pinch'em Tight trail (223) to Rush Ridge (227) to Rough (221), turn left (west) and head toward Gray's Arch. After taking in the views of Gray's Arch, continue on Rough Trail until you meet up with D. Boon Hut Trail (1770). Take D. Boon Hut Trail, don't miss the short side trail that skirts along the cliff face, it takes you to see the large Rock Shelter with a Niter Mine and evidence that Daniel Boone may have stayed there. Follow D. Boon Hut Trail back to the Gray's Arch parking area.

2. Koomer Ridge and Pinch'em Tight Ridge Loop. Approximate length: 6 miles... Start at the parking lot in Koomer Ridge Campground (to get to the lot, veer left after entering the campground). From the lot, walk back to the main road that goes through Koomer Ridge Campground, cross the road, and you will see the start of the trail behind the campground host's camper. Take Koomer Ridge Trail (220) to Sheltowee Trace, turn left (NorthWest) to meet up with Rough Trail (221) heading West. Take Rough Trail up the side of Pinch'em Tight Ridge to Pinch 'em Tight Trail (223), to Buck Trail (226), back to Koomer Ridge Trail (220), head South on Koomer Ridge Trail back to the parking area.

On top of Courthouse Rock, for climbers only 3. Double Arch / Auxier Ridge Loop. Approximate length: 6 to 7 miles... This is the ultimate Red River Gorge hike in my opinion. If you only do one day hike in the Gorge, this is the one to do. It is a strenuous hike and sometimes confusing to follow, so it is for experienced day-hikers only. Study the map and this text carefully before trying this hike. The only disadvantage to the hike is that it hikes along a gravel road for a considerable distance, but that drawback is easily worth it. I like to hike the gravel road segment first to get it over with, it makes for a good warmup anyway.

Park in the Auxier Ridge parking area, it is on Tunnel Ridge Road just past the point where you cross over the top of the Nada Tunnel on your map. Now hike out from the parking lot to Tunnel Ridge Road, turn right (Northeast) on Tunnel Ridge Road and hike it almost to it's end, to the parking lot for Double Arch and Courthouse Rock. Take Double Arch Trail (201) to Double Arch. After visiting the arch, walk back up Double Arch Trail the way you came until it intersects with Auxier Branch Trail (203). Take Auxier Branch to Courthouse Rock. You will cross some streams, then head uphill and hike along the bottom of Auxier Ridge which will be the tall cliff on your right. NOTE: It will not be obvious that you are at Courthouse Rock when you get there, this is where people get lost. Just hike Auxier Branch trail until the cliffs on your right completely come to an end. The endpoint is Courthouse Rock. Back between Courthouse Rock and Auxier Ridge, the ridgeline breaks down and there are several small trails going off to the right that lead up through various scrambles that take you up to the ridge. Just keep your eyes open for the trails leading off to your right and up the slope and you should have no problem. Next, head up the steps to the top of Auxier Ridge, and hike along Auxier Ridge, following the Auxier Ridge trail for 1.8 miles back to your car.

4. Rock Bridge / Turtle-Back Arch off-trail loop. Approximate Length: 4 miles... Note: This hike should only be attempted by experienced hikers with the ability to climb rock ledges and follow a compass heading, a topographic map of the area is recommended. For an easier hike to Creation Falls and Rock Bridge, go to the short-hikes section of this website. Park at the Rock Bridge parking area at the end of the gravel road. The start of the trail is toward the right-hand (east) side of the lot across from the restrooms. Hike to Creation Falls, then continue to Rock Bridge. Rock Bridge is the only natural arch in the area that crosses a river and has water running through it. After taking in the view of Rock Bridge and possibly climbing to the top of it if you feel like it, return to the trail and continue on the trail until you come to Swift Camp Creek Trail. Proceed North on Swift Camp Creek Trail. In a short distance, on your right, you will find the foundation for an old log dam across Swift Creek. This dam was used during Red River Gorge's logging days. For an interesting side trip, if the water is low enough, get into Swift Creek at this point and hike up it a short distance. You will find yourself in "Hell's Kitchen", with sheer sandstone cliffs rising up on both sides of you. After visiting Hell's Kitchen, walk back to the dam and get back on Swift Camp Creek Trail. In about another half mile you will come to an area with many boulders strewn about. The trail will pass between two large "twin" boulders. For another nice side trip, turn left BEFORE you go through the boulders, and hike back in the direction that you came from along the faint trail. This trail is difficult to follow at this time due to many trees that have fallen, but if you follow along close to the cliff line, in about 700 feet you will come to a hidden rock shelter with a moonshiner's still in it, known as the Bear Branch Still. Return to Swift Creek trail, pass through the boulders and continue north. After 15 minutes of hiking, you will come to a stream with a black rock floor, and a waterfall to your right dropping into Swift Creek. Immediately after crossing the stream, turn left on a small trail that leads you to the top of a ridge. Turn left and continue going up the ridge, negotiating a couple of steep rock ledges along the way. If you reach the very top of the ridge, you will be standing directly on top of Turtle Back Arch. Just before you get to the top of the ridge, there is a side-trail skirting left around the ridge that takes you underneath the arch. If you are already at the top of the ridge, it is easy to descend back down to the side trail. This is a great place to take a break and enjoy the view. Once rested, proceed basically South-South-West along the ridge-top, following the flattest and easiest course, back to the gravel road. This is the off-trail section of the hike, but it generally follows along an old ridge-top road and is quite easy to hike and to follow. As long as you continue heading basically South-South-West, you have to eventually run into the gravel road, so the chances of truly getting lost are slim. Once at the gravel road, turn left (East) and hike the road back to your vehicle at the Rock Bridge parking area.

Short Hikes Day Hikes Backpacking Climbing Fishing Canoeing


 
INTRODUCTION to the Red River Gorge.
DIRECTIONS how to get there.
ACCOMMODATIONS camping, cabins, & lodging.
DINING the best dining in the area.
ACTIVITIES things to do while there.
MAP trail & road map.
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