Hiking Red River Gorge – Kentucky Backpacking in Fall

Come along for 2 Nights of November Fall backpacking and hiking in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge.

For this adventure, we’ll be visiting a very unique Geological Area within Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest, called Red River Gorge. This area hosts an impressive collection of natural arches (or natural bridges, as they are often call), spread across some relatively young forest in the hills of eastern Kentucky, about 1 hour shy of Lexington. In fact, Red River Gorge has the highest concentration of rock arches east of the Rock Mountains (over 100). This makes Red River Gorge a visually impressive hiking area, as well as one of the world’s top rock climbing destinations.

I’ll be hiking a 3 day, 2 night backpacking loop through the heart of the Geological Area, which is flanked by the Clifty Wilderness area to the East and Natural Bridge State Resort Park to the southwest.

For those of you who interested, I recorded full GPS track data for each day’s hike, which can be downloaded on the Trip Data page.

For a thorough overview of my backpacking gear used and complete gear list, check out this video post: Ultralight Backpacking Gear List (the only substantial changes for this trip were heavier boots and a 30 degree sleeping bag instead of lighter fleece bag)

For details on how I find and plan trips check out my video post on: Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip 

Trails Used, in order (with Trail Numbers):

Park at Bison Way Trailhead 37.83685,-83.609546

Day 1
Bison Way Trail 210
Sheltowee Trace Trail 100
Cross State Road 715 and River via suspension bridge
Rough Trail 221
Gray’s Arch Trail 205
Set up camp near Gray’s Arch (must be at least 600 feet away)
Stats for Day: 13.1 Miles ; 4,652 feet of elevation gain ; 4,425 feet elevation loss

Day 2
Gray’s Arch Trail 205
Pinch-em Tight Trail 223
Buck Trail 226
Koomer Ridge Trail 220
Hidden Arch Trail 208
Cliff Trail 206
Silvermine Arch Trail 225
Koomer Ridge Trail 220 (backtrack and continue)
Set up camp near junction of Koomer Ridge Trail and Rough Trail
Stats for Day 2: 13.5 Miles ; 3,913 feet of elevation gain ; 4,125 feet of elevation loss

Day 3
Rough Trail 221 (short segment towards Sheltowee Tr )
Sheltowee Trace Trail 100
Road Hike along Red River back towards Bison Way parking area.
Stats for Day 3: 3.29 Miles ; 561 feet of elevation gain ; 574 feet elevation

Grand Totals for Trip: 29.89 Miles ; 9,126 feet of elevation gain ; 9,124 feet of elevation loss


15 thoughts on “Hiking Red River Gorge – Kentucky Backpacking in Fall

  1. Hey man, how do you keep the food in the pack? I watched the video of you talking about your ultralight pack, and wondered how to stored your food. Thanks!

    • I organize all my food for each day into individual gallon ZipLoc bags, and just cram them in between whatever items I can in the pack. This video goes over some of my food strategy:

  2. Sintax! Just found you and became a subscriber. Love what you are doing. However, I wish I had found you before your RRG trip, because no trip to The Red, as we climbers call it, is complete without a trip to Miguel’s Pizza. Not sure if you had heard of it, but I promise you, even though cheeseburgers are your schtick, you will never find another pizza like Miguel’s, and you might even consider changing your tune to post-path-pounding pizza instead of burgers. Besides, it alliterates better.

  3. It’s gotten pretty bad, almost all the camping sites are marked off now with the blue flags on all the trails. Had to go pretty far out into unmarked non park trails to find anywhere to camp overnight. Ended up paying for the campground the third night as there’s nothing mid park anymore that isn’t marked as “Do Not Camp”.

    • Yeah, that’s a shame. I’m sure it’s a reaction to and abundance of irresponsible campers, but on the flip side, even if you’re out for a dayhike and not even camping, you have to be taken out of your element by a bunch of flags, tape, signs etc hanging all over the place.

  4. Pingback: SinChats – Disaster! Backpacking Mistakes & Bad Experiences | Sintax77

  5. Do you happen to recall the availability of water and ground camping around Gray’s Arch? I’m looking at getting the family out there over night on Friday after Thanksgiving.


  6. Hi,

    Planning a trip and your gpx files are a huge help. I was looking through them and saw a good amount of backtrack and loops when you entered in and out of the scenic. I presume on your first day and as well and your second day where your files stop are your campsites. If you’d like to join us and re-do your trip you are welcome too, end of March 2018

    Thank you,


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