Raven's Rock is a prominent rock feature that can be seen from several vantage points throughout the Red River Gorge. One of the more well-known views of this impressive rock is seen from hiking the Auxier Ridge Trail. What most don't realize, however, is that you can actually hike to the top of this amazing location.
The best part is that, because not too many people realize you can do this, Raven's Rock is often a good place to find some solitude. I've rarely encountered anyone else at the top and I have personally enjoyed many nights camped on the top of this amazing location.
Want to check it out for yourself? Then just read on!
The Hike at a Glance
Length: About 3.4-miles (out-and-back)
Hazards: Steep terrain with sheer cliffs
The easiest way to approach Raven's Rock requires paying to park on private property. At the time of writing this, the rates were $5/day or $10 for an overnight. There are several other ways to reach Raven's Rock, but these require either following a dangerous, off-trail ridge hike or crossing the Red River, which can be quite deep. For this reason, I will only detail how to reach Raven's from the private property route.
To reach the parking area from exit #33 on the Mountain Parkway (the Slade exit), take a left off the exit. When you reach the stop sign in front of the Shell gas station, take a left. Drive about 1.5-miles and turn right onto KY-77. Continue along KY-77 through Nada Tunnel. You will drive a few more miles past the tunnel. Shortly after the Martin's Fork Trailhead (located on the left) will be a road on the left. I don't believe this road is labeled, but it's called Fishtrap Rd. on Google Maps.
There is usually a sign at the end of the road that mentions something about the Raven's Rock scenic overlook. Take the left onto this road and take the right after crossing the bridge. You'll see a field that you can park in with instructions on how to pay the parking fee.
Pay your fee and you can start the hike. Oh, and say hi to Pat if you see him. He's the guy that owns the property you're parking on. He's a nice guy and enjoys meeting the people hiking up to the top of Raven's.
Looking past the field you parked your car in you will see a gate. The hike starts on the other side of this gate.
The trail follows along the Red River for about 0.8 miles. The trail will then start to bend to the left. Shortly after this bend, you begin the steep ascent up to the summit of Raven's Rock.
Once you reach the uphill portion, you will notice that, for much of the trip up, you're actually following an old, paved road up to the top. This road is a remnant from a rather interesting period of time, which we'll discuss later on.
Oh, and did I mention that the trail up is steep?
The actual hike up isn't all that interesting or noteworthy. There are a few points where you can get a decent view of what you're actually climbing, but, other than that, there's not a whole lot to see. The reward, however, comes when you reach the top!
The last stretch of the hike is the steepest, but you will soon be rewarded with one of my favorite views in the entire Gorge!
The top of Raven's Rock is almost entirely surrounded by an old, metal railing (again, this is a historical artifact). It offers what are, in my opinion, some of the best views in all the Red! Oh, and this is also a fantastic place to pitch a tent and camp for the night!
By the time you reach the top, you will have hiked about 1.7 miles and done approximately 1,240 feet of elevation gain.
A Bit of History
I mentioned earlier that the road leading to the top of this rock, as well as the metal railings, are remnants of history. I think it's pretty interesting, so I'll take a moment to highlight why all of this was built.
You see, during the 1960s there was a proposed project to dam the Red River and flood the Red River Gorge in an effort to control flooding. This, rightfully so, sparked quite a bit of controversy and lead people to start working to protect the area.
Amongst these plans was to build a road to the top of Raven's Rock and turn it into a tourist attraction. The hope was that this would bring more attention to the area and, hence, lead to its protection.
Luckily, the Red River Gorge was indeed saved from flooding and protected for all of us to enjoy to this day! And that's the story of why there's a road to the top of this little-known rock formation with no official trail to the top.