By now you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear me say that Kentucky’s Red River Gorge is one of my favorite places to spend some time! I’ve spent countless hours exploring the plethora of trails, sandstone arches, waterfalls and breathtaking vistas over the years. Recently, however, I’ve been finding enjoyment in exploring off the beaten path in The Gorge. You see, the Red River Gorge is just full of unofficial hikes that will take you off the officially maintained trails to some amazing places. It is, in my opinion, the best way to find adventure and solitude in our ever-crowded Gorge!
DISCLAIMER: Going off official trails can be a dangerous prospect, especially if you’re not prepared for it. This is not an activity that is recommended for those without significant experience in the wilderness and not for those without a solid grasp on wilderness navigation. Don’t be the reason search and rescue has to come looking for you!
NOTE: As mentioned above, hiking unofficial trail takes you off-trial to fragile, lesser-known ecosystems. For this reason, and to keep those not ready for such an activity away, I will not be disclosing how to get to these locations. It is my firm belief that those willing to put forth the amount of effort required to discover some of these spots on their own are going to be far more likely to not only have the necessary skill to do these adventures but to also not be the type of people that are going to be destructive to these environments. Anyway, let’s get on to the list!
5) Stargap Arch
First up on my list of the top 5 unofficial hikes in Red River Gorge is a hike out to Stargap Arch. This unofficial hike will take you out to a fantastic sandstone arch, but things get even better if you continue out along the ridge containing the arch. Go far enough and you will be greeted with some breathtaking, seldom seen views of The Gorge!
4) Jailhouse Rock
This seldom visited corner of The Red is in the same general area as Stargap Arch, but provides what are, in my opinion, far superior views! One of the greatest parts of the view you get from Jailhouse rock is that it shows one of the most visited areas of the place, but from a perspective, that very few will ever experience. Be warned, however, the hike out to Jailhouse contains a couple spots with some sketchy scrambling, but it’s well worth it! Oh, and along the way, you can get a view of Stargap arch, but the real treat here are the views from Jailhouse Rock itself!
3) Hanson’s Point
Hanson’s Point provides some of the best views in the park, is an extremely easy hike and is probably one of the best known unknown parts of The Red River Gorge. The fact that it’s so popular is the only reason that Hanson’s rates number 3 on this list and not number 1. A bonus of this hike is that you will come across some amazing campsites along the ridge out to Hanson’s Point. Trust me, I’ve camped there! 🙂 The real bread and butter of this hike, however, is the view from the point itself.
Hanson’s Point is a small, narrow bit of completely exposed rock. Walking out onto this area will give you views of The Gorge that are nearly impossible to beat!
2) Copperas Creek Falls
I’m just going to go ahead and give you a big disclaimer here: I was torn between rating this as number 1 or number 2! This is by far one of my favorite spots in the entire park, even if it can get a little crowded at times. The hike out to Copperas Falls is an easy walk along (and several times through) Copperas Creek. By the end of your pleasant (and likely very muddy) walk in the woods, you will be greeted by Copperas Creek Falls. This is one of my favorite waterfalls in Kentucky!
1) Eagle’s Point
It’s time for my number 1 favorite unofficial hike in Red River Gorge: Eagle’s Point. This ranks number 1 for me for a few reasons: It’s a great, challenging hike, it provides views that are comparable to Hanson’s Point and it’s not terribly well known (compared to some of the other areas we’ve discussed).
The hike to get to Eagle’s Point is a lot of fun and is challenging. Along the way, you get great views of the Red River, Come across and unofficial arch and even a cave! The real treat, however, are the views!
Did I Miss Any?
Well, okay, there are a whole lot more unofficial hikes in The Red River Gorge than just these 5! What I want to know is did I miss one that you feel should be in my top 5? If so let me know in the comments below! Or hit me up on Twitter: @Serialphotog.