Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Indian Staircase Trail is a 2.9 mile heavily 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.

Distance: 2.9 miles Elevation Gain: 633 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

bird watching

cave

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

The Staircase trail is a very special scenic area but the staircase itself is challenging for many. Be wary of bringing your pet up the staircase if they aren't used to climbing. 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.

hiking
8 days ago

Great loop, right at 4 miles.... be careful at the top of Indian Staircase as there are many unmarked trail options....I had to use the gps and all trails maps.

hiking
9 days ago

An amazing trail with some beautiful views but some scary sections along the cliff. Also there is a hard cutback that we missed after the staircase and added an unnecessary 1.5 miles to our trip. Several backcountry campsites were available when we went through around 4pm.

Closer to 4 miles!

hiking
rocky
22 days ago

hiking
23 days ago

Definitely is open now.

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

hiking
blowdown
muddy
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

This is one of the iconic hikes in the Red River Gorge. Be warned, it's not for the weak of mind or body but if you have the physical strength and mental fortitude to make the climb you will be greatly rewarded! Part of this is an unofficial but still well-worn trail. Don't attempt this if the rocks are wet. That would make a thrilling hike truly foolhardy!

hiking
1 month ago

Can anyone advise on where to park? Just arrived and saw that all the parking is taped off.

closed
1 month ago

Closed. No parking anywhere on 77.

hiking
scramble
2 months ago

It was so beautiful. It was a little more difficult than I had expected, but it was so much fun. The climbing made it so exciting!!

hiking
scramble
3 months ago

This is one of the best day hikes in Kentucky!

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful trail from start to finish! It is nerve racking climbing the Indian staircase but the view at the very top is worth it! Just got to be careful!

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
scramble
4 months ago

We did this hike with our 2 border collie/Aussie mix dogs. We loved it. We went clockwise on the loop part and I would highly recommend it for anyone else doing it with dogs. Coming down the rock scramble wasn’t bad I want down at parts the dogs couldn’t quite do it on their own, and my wife helped scoot the dogs towards me and I helped them the rest of the way on each part, then came down her self. Great views, it was a fun hike. We started around 1600 and it wasn’t very busy either.

backpacking
icy
muddy
4 months ago

We missed the split off to the scramble up the staircase and we decided it was too dangerous to go down it, especially with a dog. The ice was melting and falling all around us, but it was still fun. Will definitely go back with screenshotted instructions on how to get to it.

hiking
muddy
5 months ago

This is one of my favorite hikes in the park. Parking is limited in the lot to start this hike so prepare to park further up road to start hike. The hike itself...it rained the day before so it was a little muddy at the beginning but after we got .5 miles in, mud wasn't really an issue. Prep for mud if it rained recently.

hiking
muddy
6 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

Challening but not too challenging especially if you enjoy a good scramble.

hiking
scramble
8 months ago

Really fun trail! We took the left fork right after the trail starts which took us right up some really fun rock scrambles (I guess this series of scrambles is the "staircase"?). Trail forks at several spots and is poorly marked, if marked at all. We took the advice of some good reviews that mention landmarks & such, and managed to take all the right turns and our total hike came in right under 3 miles. Our 5 (almost 6) yr olds LOVED it. They get bored to tears on easy hikes so this was great. I wouldn't attempt this with a crowd of little kids, but since my hubby and I could each watch one constantly, it was great. It was under 1/2 mile to the top of the staircase and we continued the loop to make the 3 mile hike. Lots of arches (3 I think?) and cool formations along the way. Overall, a REALLY great hike, just study up on the route you want to take before starting because of the lack of trail markings.

hiking
scramble
8 months ago

Fun scramble up. I didn’t scramble down. Took the trail on around to the left at the top of the ridge and then back down and up again to retrieve my pack.

This was an absolutely gorgeous trail! My first trip to Daniel Boone and I’ll definitely be back after that! If you plan on fully committing and hiking all of the Indian Staircase, definitely wear lighter flexible shoes. I wore my regular hiking boots and they didn’t feel quite grippy enough on the eroding sandstone. Just a little slippery! Luckily though everyone I met on the trail today way super friendly and we all spotted eachother on the rougher bits.

Showing results 1 - 20 of 369