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Red River Gorge Trail

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Trail Description

The Red River Gorge Trail is a 34 mile trail that spans Wolfe, Powell, and Menifee Counties, Kentucky.

Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge Chimney Rock

The Red River Gorge, located at 37°49′N 83°40′W / 37.817°N 83.667°W / 37.817; -83.667, is a canyon system on the Red River in east-central Kentucky. Geologically, it is part of the Pottsville Escarpment.

Much of the Gorge is located inside the Daniel Boone National Forest and has been subsequently reserved as the Red River Gorge Geological Area, an area of around 44 square miles (114 km2). It has been designated a National Natural Landmark. The 20 square miles (58 km2) Clifty Wilderness Area lies entirely within the gorge.

Red River Gorge rock bridge

This intricate canyon system features an abundance of high sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, waterfalls, and natural bridges. There are more than 100 natural sandstone arches in the Red River Gorge Geological Area. The multitude of sandstone and cliff-lines have helped this area become one of the world's top rock climbing destinations and is home to the Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition.

Kentucky's Natural Bridge State Park is immediately adjacent to this area, featuring one of the largest natural bridges in the Red River Gorge.

Because of its unusual and rugged nature, the Red River Gorge features a remarkable variety of ecological zones. It is home to many plants, such as Canadian Yew, which are far from their main range.

Red River Gorge Creation Falls

Geological Formations

  • Adena Arch
  • Angel Windows
  • Auxier Ridge
  • Blackburn Rock
  • Buzzard's Roost
  • Castle Arch
  • Calaboose Falls
  • Chimney Top Rock
  • Courthouse Rock
  • Creation Falls
  • Cloudsplitter
  • Double Arch
  • Eagle Point Buttress/Eagle's Nest
  • Gray's Arch
  • Half Moon
  • Hanson's Point
  • Haystack Rock
  • Hen's Nest
  • Hidden Arch
  • Indian Arch
  • Indian Staircase
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Moonshiner's Arch
  • Pinch 'em Tight Rock
  • Princess Arch
  • Raven Rock
  • Red Byrd Arch
  • Rock Bridge
  • Sky Bridge
  • Silver Mine Arch
  • Star Gap Arch
  • Tall Arch
  • Timmon's Arch
  • Turtleback Arch
  • Whistling Arch
  • Whittleton Arch

Nada Tunnel

Red River Gorge Tunnel

Nada tunnel is a 900-foot-long (270 m) and 12-foot-wide (3.7 m) (13 feet high) logging tunnel built between 1910 and 1912. Rock and dirt were removed by dynamite, steam drills and hand tools. One man was killed during tunnel construction when he attempted to thaw frozen dynamite which exploded when he set it near a fire."Nada Tunnel on Cumberland Ranger District".

History of the Proposed Red River Gorge Dam

Decades of flooding by the Red River offered downstream residents much misery. In 1962 the "Great Flood of Clay City," the worst seen in 102 years, moved both government officials and local communities to lobby the Kentucky State Legislature and the Kennedy administration for immediate construction of a flood control dam. The United States Congress would ultimately approve the measure and provide funding. The Army Corps of Engineers set about their business of making the structure a reality; however, many felt that such actions would destroy the unique ecosystem residing there. Spearheaded by the Sierra Club, an opposition to the dam was formed. It was this group that obtained the help of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas by participating in a Dam Protest Hike which drew local and national attention to the situation. The Dam Protest Hike took place on November 18, 1967 at the Clifty Wilderness area, junction of Swift Creek and the Red River, Highway 715.

In 1971, the University of Kentucky commissioned Wendell Berry, a Kentucky native farmer and author, to write a book entitled The Unforeseen Wilderness advocating the preservation of the gorge in its natural state.

The struggle of wills lasted several decades, involved two proposed Dam sites and finally concluded with Red River's entry into the National Wild and Scenic River system on December 3, 1993. President Bill Clinton signed the declaration into law which provides federal protection for a 19.4 mile (31.2 km) section of the river. This effectively eliminated any further possibility of a dam being constructed and preserved the Red River and its Gorge as we know it. For more information see RRS: History of the Red River Valley Dam

In Motion Pictures

The Red River Gorge's Sky Bridge appears in the 1955 film "The Kentuckian", starring and directed by Golden Globe and Academy Award winner Burt Lancaster. It was also the first major motion picture to be filmed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. For more information see RRS: The Kentuckian filmed at Sky Bridge.

Rock Climbing

The Red River Gorge is also known as a popular destination for rock climbers, with numerous cliffs in the gorge itself and in the surrounding areas. The vast number of bolted routes in overhanging, pocketed sandstone draws climbers from all over the world to "the Red" as it is known. Climbing in the region tends to be done at large number of separate small cliffs. Most climbs are a single pitch and most cliffs are less than 200 feet tall. There are numerous traditional and sport climbing routes in region; although, sport climbing seems to be more dominant. Many cliffs lay within Daniel Boone National Forest; however numerous important cliffs are located on private land and in two privately owned preserves created to allow climbing access:

  1. Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve is a 750 acres preserve owned and maintained by Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition
  2. Muir Valley, is a 400 acres nature preserve and rock climbing area owned and maintained by Rick and Liz Weber

The favorite lodging, food and gear destination of many climbers in the region is Miguel's Pizza in Slade, Kentucky , run by Miguel Ventura, which has been the unofficial headquarters of Red River Gorge climbing since mid 1980's. There are also a number of published guides to rock climbing in the area.

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GPS Data:

37°50′2.44″N 83°36′28.36″W

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