Shawn and I spent Thanksgiving Weekend exploring Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Resort Park with my parents and their dog. Red River Gorge has been on my bucket list for a couple years now and it was awesome to finally check it off! It was even better than I imagined and I can’t wait to go back.
Red River Gorge is part of the Daniel Boone National Forest in the Eastern part of Kentucky.
Our main hike of the weekend was Auxier Ridge Trail (204) to Auxier Branch Trail (203) to Double Arch Trail (201). It is ranked #51 on Trails.com Top 100 Hikes in North America. In total is was about 6.7 miles with 1,152 ft in elevation change. This hike ranks in my top hikes of 2017.
Auxier Ridge Trail-head is located at the end of Tunnel Ridge Road (a gravel road). You have to take KY-15 to reach Tunnel Ridge Road. On the map it looks like KY-77 intersects with it, but KY-77 actually goes thru a tunnel underneath Tunnel Ridge Road. At the trail-head there is a pit toilet and a decent sized parking lot. This area is very popular however, so get there early. Cars were parked everywhere possible along the road by the time we were leaving.
I was worried about whether the trail would be hard to follow, but it is marked with white diamond blazes and was pretty easy to navigate even with all the leaves being down. The high usage of this trail also helps. If you are looking for solitude, this is not the trail to find it on.
In short, you hike along Auxier Ridge to Courthouse Rock then you go down into the valley via a lot of stairs then you hike back up to the top of a ridge on the other side of the valley to Double Arch and then halfway back down into the valley and then take some more stairs up to an old gravel road that leads you to the trail-head. The awesome thing about it, is you can see from one ridge to the other; so you can see where you are going and where you have been. Not only are the views amazing from the ridges, but the valley is also very pretty. My mom described it as stepping into a scene from a movie.
We had planned to leave Porsche, mom’s Yorkie, in her kennel at the cabin we were renting for the weekend, but plans changed. I had hiked with her in my backpack a couple years ago so that is where she rode. She did a good job staying put and seemed to enjoy the vantage point and the smells.
The views were incredible!
The valley in between the two ridges is very pretty. With a permit you can camp almost anywhere in the forest as long as you are 300 feet from any developed road or trail and 100 feet from cliffs. It is bear country though; food storage rules must be followed.
You would think my parents would’ve learned by now not to let me pick out the trail when we go hiking…
This trail is definitely one of my favorites from this year; I highly recommend it!