The Red River Gorge is an absolute paradise for the adventurer looking for stunning natural beauty that’s a little more under the radar. With over 25 trails, hikers of all levels are certain to find a route that suits their desired difficulty. But no matter which trail you choose, you can be sure you’re in for an incredible immersion into a landscape that changes spectacularly as you move through each of its layers. With its breathtaking verdancy, stunning sandstone arches, and majestic cliffs and dips, the Red River Gorge consumes you with its sublimity, making it a true treasure of the south. Here are the trails you absolutely must traverse!
Double Arch/Auxier Ridge loop
Flickr photo via Chris
This hike begins with a gravel road, but don’t be fooled: it’s only a warm-up. The path will raise and narrow and soon you’ll be working for your stunning vistas from unique arches. Expect to be surrounded by lush vegetation that changes dramatically with your elevation and to cross several creeks as canopies loom over you and light trickles through them breathtakingly.
Indian Staircase and Indian Arch Loop
Flickr photo via Karen Roussel
This unmarked trail is for the experienced and confidant hiker only. Yet as difficult as this trail is, it is infinitely more rewarding. As you scramble up the steep sandstone cliff that makes up Indian Staircase, you will thank the “footholes” worn into the rock by years and years of foot travel! (Although legend has it that Native Americans etched these holes in order to meet at the height of the cliff!). Allow at least half a day to enjoy this strenuous 5-mile trail that offers extraordinary views of the deep canyons and winding paths of the gorge.
Natural Bridge via Laurel Ridge Trail
Flickr photo via hspauldi
Seven different trails and a skylift can lead you to the beauteous wonder, Natural bridge, and for good reason! Natural Bridge is a must-see vision of unspoiled, natural beauty. We like the Laurel Ridge Trail because it features an undemanding walk around the cliffs and will lead you past hauntingly beautiful staircases (Devil’s Gulch Stairway and Needle’s Eye Stairway) and to an extraordinary view at the dead end, Lover’s Leap.
After all that hiking, head on over to Miguel’s Pizza about five minutes away from the gorge where you can literally put everything on your pizza from chickpeas to kielb. Service is quick, pizza is delicious, and everyone there is just as sweaty and bug-bitten as you.