View Full Version : Kentucky Hikers

07-24-2007, 20:49
I'm going to Red River Gorge this weekend with 3 friends. I've never actually been there so I was wondering if any of you from KY knew of any good trails/places to camp in the Gorge. I'd like to camp up high near the cliffs, away from a bunch of people if possible.

I've heard of the Clifty Wilderness and it sounds like a pretty sweet area since it's completely free of facilities and is very remote, but it doesn't sound like it's up on the cliffs.

Basically if any of you have been there and know any great spots to camp that be awesome.


07-24-2007, 21:38
Hi, My son and I have camped there a couple of times. You mentioned wanting to be up on the cliffs somewhere. We tried that and it was noisy even though no one was "near" us. We kept hearing the traffice on the gravel roads, people yelling back and forth, horns, etc. I think they were over near chimney top, but not sure. The next morning we went down into the valley and met some other campers, including a family. They hadn't heard one single voice during the night. The sound was carrying from ridge to ridge, and we got the full blast. Most of the night it sounded as if we had company coming right toward us. When we camped at lower elevations, we didn't hear anything either.

I love camping in the area, but find the lower elevations less noisy.

07-25-2007, 11:01
A great place to camp near cliff is the Indian Staircase. Take the Bison Way Trail to the Sheltowee Trace. Turn left on the Sheltowee and follow it about .5 - .75 miles and you will see a well worn side trail that goes off to the right, up hill. This will lead you to the Indian Staircase. You can climb the Staircase and the trail will continue to a HUGE rock house and then the trail will follow a narrow path along the cliff and re-intersect with the Sheltowee Trace. About 3.5 mile round trip.

Here's some pics from a recent hike in the area:

07-25-2007, 12:59
None of the ridges have much if any water. As long as you're cool with humping all the water you'll need, go camp on Auxier Ridge. We did a big(for RRG) hike this past May and it was awesome. We took the Koomer Ridge trail to the Rough Trail going NW(or left) and took it all the way to Gray's Arch trail, camped, and then went to the Pinch'em Tight Trail to the Buck Trail back to Koomer Ridge and to my truck. About 13-14 miles. Note: the Rough Trail is the most strenuous trail in RRG. The one section had 4-5 300-450 ft climbs over less than 4 miles. The Buck Trail has killer campsites down by the creek and is simply a beautiful hike. None of these are in the Clifty Wilderness area though.

My next weekender down there will be in the Clifty area. I'll take the Swift Camp Creek trail all the way to Rock Bridge, hike that trail, backtrack up SCC to the Wildcat Trail back to the road and have a mile of road walk back to the truck for @ 15 miles.

Watch where you park down there. Koomer Ridge or Martin's Fork parking lots are good ones. Lots of people go down there to party, and cars do get broken into from time to time. If you can, get the Official Guide to the Trails of RRG book by Jerrell Goodpaster. Excellent book that'll tell you everything you need to know.


07-25-2007, 13:26
I've always camped down by the creek on rough trail and we've always been decently isolated the nights we spent there...

Time To Fly 97
07-25-2007, 14:10
I grew up in Lexington and have awesome memories of hiking in RRG when I was very young. Hope you have an excellent trip!

Happy hiking!


Pennsylvania Rose
07-25-2007, 15:03
Indian Staircase and Auxier Ridge are both good suggestions if you want to camp on the cliffs. Like big ben said, though, there's no water up there. Also, be very careful. Many people, including someone I know, have fallen off the cliffs in the middle of the night. The only thing that saved the guy I know (who broke his back) was that someone with him was an EMT. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Gorge is being loved to death. It was bad in the 80's and 90's, but now that it's been "discovered" as a premier rock climbing area, it's even worse. On a summer weekend it will be pretty hard to be truly isolated. PLEASE practice LNT. I hiked from KY77 to D Boon Hut yesterday with my kids. We counted no less than 10 unofficially "developed" campsites along Martin's Fork: cleared of underbrush, fire rings, trash, etc. A lot of the Gorge is like this, so everyone needs to do their part to keep it a beautiful place.

The book Kentucky's Land of the Arches is a great resource for the history and trails in the area.

07-25-2007, 17:38
I grew up in Louisville. We used to camp up on Koomer Ridge. Also, there may be camping near Chimney Top. It's been a years since I've been to the Gorge though.

07-26-2007, 01:37
Thanks all the advice. I've got a lot to choose from. I'll be careful about the cliffs. Luckly I know friends who actually care to do things other than get drunk every weekend and I hear a lot of those cliff deaths are due to alcohol anyways. I'll keep my flashlight handy if I need to take a midnight bathroom break, haha.

Seriously though, thanks for the tips. I can't wait to go. Even if it is only for a day.

07-26-2007, 09:37

There are a couple of water sources at the top of Indian Staircase, one of which being a small waterfall at the rock house. It's been really dry in that area so they may not be running.