Route: Red River Gorge R2R2R2R2R (KY)

Submitted by Halard Lescinsky on Wed, 01/06/2021 - 08:06am
Kentucky, US
40 mi
Vertical Gain
7000 ft

This route is the Rim to Red to Rim to Red to Rim  (R2R2R2R2R) of the Red River Gorge, Kentucky.  The route starts on the top of Natural Bridge, in Natural Bridge State Park, Slade Kentucky.  This is the "South Rim" of the Red River Gorge.   From the top of Natural Bridge, take the Balanced Rock trail to the valley where you pick up the Sheltowee Trace just north of Mile 84.  Follow the Sheltowee Trace across the small suspension bridge near Hoedown Island, across Rt 11, and out through Whittington Campground.  The Sheltowee Trace heads north and eventually down into the Red River Gorge National Geologic Area.  The Red River is crossed just after Mile 76 via a pedestrian suspension bridge.   From there the Sheltowee Trace meanders up past arches and glens to the North Rim of the Gorge at the Corner Ridge Trailhead (Sheltowee Mile 66).  Turn around and retrace your path to Natural Bridge and use the "Original Trail" to gain the top of the Bridge and finish the route.  Note:  The start at the top of Natural Bridge can be accessed using any of the various hiking trails (ex the "original trail" is about 3/4 miles) or paying to ride the skylift. Or you could run the route starting and ending at the Corner Ridge TH, and avoid the out & back to the Natural Bridge start/finish.

This route is a classic trail run and a perfect Midwestern analogue to the Grand Canyon R2R2R.  It is almost entirely single track and has stunning views of arches and cliffs and areas of dense forest.  The course includes a state park, National Forest, National Geological Area, and the Clifty Wilderness.

GPS Track