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Indian Staircase Trail

MODERATE 112 reviews

Indian Staircase Trail is a 2.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Pine Ridge, Kentucky that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

2.9 miles
633 feet

dogs on leash


nature trips

rock climbing


bird watching




wild flowers




no shade

This is an un marked trail. Please make sure to research a get directions before you go. Be wary of bringing your pet up the staircase if they aren't used to climbing. Bring water!

6 days ago

Awesome time here for my Birthday this past weekend. Here's the route we took which I believe to be the more adventurous (and strenuous!) of the two.

Start by taking the Bison Way Trail (GPS will take you straight to the trailhead where there is plenty of parking, a bathroom, and clearly marked trail with outpost/map) - you will gain a bit of elevation in a relatively short period of time. After hiking for around 5 minutes or so, you will come to a split. The route we took is to the left and goes vertical whereas the path to your right (headed to Sheltowee Trace Trail) will be more level and accommodating. Get ready for a climb. After another 5 minutes or so you will come to a near vertical pathway covered with tree roots and stone. Battle your way to the to the top and follow the trail to your right. Fight through the thick, unkempt trail until you reach more rock scrambles. You will continue this pattern three or four times until you reach the sandy rock outcrop at the top. Take a breath; you've done it! Navigate the top of the bald outcrop and wave to the people to your right at Cloudsplitter. Explore the neat rock cut out at the top, and when you are ready to leave, follow the trail to a neat little Arch. Once you're done marveling at the beauty of Nature and her element, follow the staircase down and follow the blazen path. You will cross a handful of streams along the way as you follow the Sheltowee Trace Trail. Look for white markings on the trees and a "turtle" symbol - this indicates you are going the correct way. After a mile or so you will round a downward bend where a clear cut trail becomes open to your right. This is the Bison Trail - follow it back to the parking lot. Grab some Miguels on your way home!

4 months ago

This is probably the best route for hiking Indian Staircase as if avoids the VERY tough nearly vertical climb/descent between Bison Way trail and the Adena Arch. It is a fabulous hike with great views, great geology, and great history. The Indian Staircase trail is an unmarked trail that both starts and ends at the Sheltowee Trace Trail. Tips for finding the correct route: Take Bison Way then left on Sheltowee Trace Trail. After the SECOND stream crossing and a U in the trail take the well traveled unmarked trail to the right. At the top of the Staircase stay on the well trod path near the cliff edge in a giant U until you return to the Sheltowee Trace Trail. Take a left and follow it back to Bison Way.

4 months ago

love this trail and with this app all side trails were easy to find. not a great trail for dogs however when you get to the scramble at the top of Indian staircase. Beautiful views.

6 months ago

It was easy to get along the wrong trail but once the correct trail was found it was a great hike with great views! We went down the staircase because we missed the first turn. Going up would probably have been much easier. Wear shoes with good traction!

7 months ago

Great hike, totally recommend. We had difficulty finding it the first couple times we went, and if you ask the park rangers they will not tell you how to get there, but we did get lucky with one ranger who told us exactly, and it was great fun.

7 months ago

Pretty decent hike. The staircase is not part of the official trails so we had to check the map a couple of times because we got a bit lost. Other than that was pretty easy. We had some nice views but the staircase itself was not that overwhelming.

8 months ago

Loved it! Went for a field trip in school!

8 months ago

Love the staircase.

8 months ago

This trail is awesome! It’s intimidating at first but I essentially walked straight up with no problem. Gorgeous view and worth it!

9 months ago

One of my favorite short hikes. Great views and a nice hike to test a new backpack before going out for several days. varied terrain will show you any issues it might cause.

9 months ago

One of the best hikes in RRG.

10 months ago

Beautiful trail

10 months ago

I was not able to find the hidden trail :(

10 months ago

Indian staircase provided me with my favorite trail in the gorge so far. This hike was fairly easy-going, yet beautiful. Climbing the "staircase" was challenging and rewarded us with stellar views once we made it to the top of the rock formation. Next we're making it a point to venture to the cloudsplitter.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

One of my favorite trails in red river. Has all you want, climbing, waterfalls, and you see some arches

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Great all around Adventure.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fantastic trial! Also saw 4 snakes, rate the snakes as 10/10 they didn't bite us and were very polite. (Keep a lookout!) So great we did this hike twice in the short time we were in RRG.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Wonderful start to what was an amazing hike. Started with Indian Staircase and went to Cloudsplitter.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Park at the Bison Way Trailhead,
About 100 yards along the trail, the trail splits, take the right path. From there, you'll cross 4 streams, after the fourth (about a mile in) you'll come across trail markings (turtle and diamond), if you wish to climb the indian staircase take the right there on what is a well beaten path, but not an official trail.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Climbing the staircase was fun and the views at the top are excellent.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Soooo easy to get lost.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

5 out of 5 when combined with cloud splitter

Monday, June 26, 2017

Great views, interesting rock features, and plentiful camping sites.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Awesome views on this unique trail. Brought our corgi who was a champ and scampered right up the staircase. The trail becomes a little hard to follow once you reach the overhang at the top, but keep walking through it and it picks back up again. Saw a few other people but definitely not a busy trail. Can't wait to do it again.

To climb up the staircase you will cross 4 streams, the last of which has the largest bridge made of 4 logs. From there it's about 200 yards to a tree with a white turtle and white diamond stamped on it. You can either continue straight or turn up and right. Go up and right on the smaller trail to reach the base of the stairs.

Friday, June 16, 2017

I've been on a lot of trails at the gorge. This is by far my favorite hike. So many beautiful sites to see. Just be prepared to walk the ridges which can be frightening if you're not used to it.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Great trail. Please make sure you have proper instructions, as hikers without a lot of experience could easily get lost. Frogs head was cool, and also went down to see the longest rock shelter in the gorge on the back side. Loved this trail!!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

One of my favorite hikes in Red River Gorge. I would be wary to bring your pet up the staircase if they aren't used to climbing. I have a German Shepherd and she managed to get up but it was difficult in spots for her. Beautiful hike and beautiful views, just keep an eye out for the cliff edge.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nice decent length trail. Few very cool spots off this one, including the frog head rock.

Monday, May 22, 2017

very nice view and fun rapel option

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

One of my favorite hikes at the gorge. If you're with someone who knows the trails you can make it a loop the goes up the staircase and around the ridge back to the parking area.

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