Red River Gorge-ous!
By Braxton Caudill
The Red River Gorge, located amidst Daniel Boone National Forest in east-central Kentucky, is a prime location for hikers, nature enthusiasts and sightseers alike. The protected geological area has become well known for its naturally created lime and sandstone wonders such as the Indian Staircase, Gray’s Arch and Natural Bridge, all of which were created by thousands of years of erosion. Presently, the Gorge attracts 750,000 visitors yearly; I recently became a tally in that impressive statistic. There are over 100 trails within the Daniel Boone National Forest, making it tough to pick just one. My girlfriend and I use the AllTrails IPhone application to help us out; I highly suggest downloading it in order to effectively and safely plan your route. On our recent trip we chose to hike to the Cloudsplitter via the Sheltowee Connector Trail. This is a 4-mile, moderately-rated trail located near Pine Ridge, Kentucky.
We were welcomed with an incredible view by the end of the trail, but the journey was just as breathtaking. During the first mile we walked alongside the Red River itself, a 97.2 mile-long tributary within the Mississippi River watershed. The water was clear and gorgeous during our trip, we even got to cross it via the Sheltowee Bridge around the 1.5 mile mark. We would eventually come back to this landmark considering the trail was categorized as an out-and- back variant.
Many of the trails within the Red River Gorge, including this one, are full of small waterfalls along the sandstone ledges. These freshwater deposits are naturally filtered and safe for drinking. Their flow size depends on elevation as well as amount of rain the area has received during the recent weeks. Many of the ones on our venture were miniscule, but it is important to proceed near them with caution as the rocks surrounding it can be slipperier than an eel in an oil spill!
The return trip along the Cloudsplitter trail brought us back along the Red River to a landmark appropriately known as “Jump Rock”. Here, thrillseekers who dare to do so can jump off the 65-foot-tall rock into a deep pool within the river. I’m always down to try stunts like this, and was so ready to take a leap of faith into the cool water. This felt like a refreshing and fitting end to an awesome day in the Red River Gorge.
Of course I have to include some Jump Rock footage in case there's any doubters! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ttnja396AE
The Red River Gorge truly is a natural gem that Kentuckians are lucky to have in their backyard. If you have ever been, let us know your favorite trails!