Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Kentucky with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

9 days ago

I would not suggest this trail. The starting climb going clock-wise was a little strenuous, but once you reach the top the trail is pretty flat until you descend in the gorge. The portion of the trail in the gorge was nice, but I'm not sure if it made up for the blandness of the first half of the trail. The main reason for my one star was because the last tow miles of the trail on Red River Rd., so not only are you walking on the road you get to worry about cars coming around the corner.

Really perfect hike — we did it backwards, starting towards double arch, and it couldn’t have been better.

My friend Justin and I just completed this trek yesterday. A backcountry combination of several pieces of trails through the serene and beautiful deep Red River Gorge. We parked a car at the Sheltowee Suspension Bridge parking area, then drove another to the Martin's Fork trailhead and hiked back to the first car. It took us just over 4 hours to complete the 8 mile excursion. The start of the hike up Martin's Fork is one the nicest places in the Gorge and a pleasant hike. Then you'll quickly ascend to the top of Tunnel Ridge, which will definitely get you warmed up for the rest of the hike! After this you'll descend to a low saddle between Tunnel Ridge and Koomer Ridge before ascending the latter. From there you'll descend the remainder of the hike and follow Chimney Top Creek all the way down to the Red River. Most of the trail sections selected for this hike are very lightly trafficked and the sense of space and seclusion out in the middle of this section of the Gorge is superb. Great day hike. Bring lots of water, some good snacks and chocolate, and give yourself plenty of time!

Slippery muddy mess...but given all the rain it wasn’t totally unexpected. Decent hike gets really flat and boring up top. The sound of interstate and smell of nearby garbage dump was not great. I wouldn’t go back.

road my horse many miles on this trail throughout the years. love it.

Great trail for an over night trip. Unlimited watering points, plenty of camping spots and a lot of scenery. Dog slaughter and Bark Camp Creek falls are off of this trail so that's an added bonus. A couple of Sheltowee shelters along the way also. Next to the RRG, probably the most hiked section of the Sheltowee.

Did the north end from 1956 to I-75 exit 49. Family of 5 11 yr old and it took us about 3 hours. Lots of scenic views and fairly nice trails.

3 months ago

You can't go wrong in RRG!

Took Auxier Ridge to Auxier Branch to Double Arch back to trailhead. Very nice with some good little side spurs. Just be careful on the spurs, especially with children. Most of them are cliffs that you better watch what you're doing.

Had a really good time driving atvs from S tree campground to turkey foot campground it took nearly six hours and was packed with scenic trails and rock formations had a blast and wil be back.

4 months ago

Loved it

Great trail with lots of fantastic views and varied terrain. Starts along the auxier ridge, goes to courthouse rock (climb up the thru the crack onto the top of the formation if you're daring enough!), descends along Auxier Branch trail following a beautiful stream, climbs back up to Double Arch (one of the best views in the entire gorge), then goes back to the parking lot along the ridge line road (closed to vehicles). ~8 miles, a bit strenuous, but well worth the effort!

Would be better to do when weather has been very dry. 4 days ago rain and very muddy in patches.

I have driven past this park thousands of time from the parkway and I never noticed the trail head until a few months ago. I hiked the whole Trail in about 2 hours on a cooler sunny summer day(high of 70). I couldn't see anything at the vista Lookout because of the overgrowth of trees. I would like to return in the winter to see what I can see. Overall I love the trail, the perfect amount of up-and-down for me.

6 months ago

Did this years ago, was okay

6 months ago

started in the middle and headed north. nice trail.

Great scenic trail can't wait to see it in the fall when the leaves change colors.

Amazing trail to hike and camp on. There are so many different kinds of landscape and geological formations on this trail. Just completed it on Saturday afternoon and it took about 2 days at a comfortable pace. We collected drinking water from from the clean pools at the base of the waterfall closest to Bark Camp
Shelter using iodine tablets and it wasn't half bad. Definitely bring more water than you think you'll need. I packed in 2 gallons and it wasn't nearly enough. Get in touch with the folks at the DuPont Lodge ahead of time to schedule a return shuttle or a room for recovery. Definitely would do it again.

mountain biking
6 months ago

Scenic view of historic Paintsville Ky. This trail would be beautiful in the fall and you could see all of town. This trail is good for mountain biking and hiking. Mountain Bikers are encouraged to start with Skull Rock Overlook first, because this end of the trail is all downhill.

Poorly maintained. Several stretches of thicket loaded with thorns impossible to go around. Over 200 spider webs obstructing first half of path alone. Although wearing insect repellent above ankles, had several hundred seed ticks (no exaggeration) beneath socks that spread rapidly before realized what they were.
Definitely worst hiking experience. Have hiked parts of AT with nothing like this.

Cool rocks

7 months ago


Went a couple of summers ago. Was a nice trail and is in a part of the park that prohibits any man-made structures so don't expect hand rails and steps like you'll get some other places. Hiked about 7 miles in and went off trail up a creek bed to camp before hiking back out the next am. Was a difficult but very rewarding trip.

my best friend and I are section hiking the sheltowee this year. from what we've experienced, and talking to others who have hiked it's full length, the first 20 miles are the hardest. the first time we were out we hiked the northern terminus to dry branch road which is section 1-2. the next go will be next week and we hope to knock out the next half of the hardest miles. we were very disappointed by how many broads there were. it made finding a spot to camp, but the trail was easy to follow, challenging, beautiful and just our pace. it's also nice that there's not much traffic, but the trails are well maintained.

section 1 was a 10 mile hike up and down, and up and down. For your middle aged once a month hiker it was a tough days walk. There is limited water on section 1plan accordingly. Sections 2 and 3 combine for another 6 miles. They take you through a valley along a creek and over a rope bridge. The challenge is near the end, a very steep climb out of the valley. Scenery is beautiful.

Pretty steep terrain, several thorns sharing the path. I ran the main loop twice, trying it in both directions. It gets slippery in the valley. I would think this would be hard to bike, but I'm not a skilled mountain biker. I found the steep terrain difficult to run down or up, but I welcomed the challenge because my normal run is very flat. I didn't see much wildlife but I was pretty loud trying to jump over and dance around thorns. It's an easy drive from etown and likely Bardstown, but I enjoyed it and will be back.

One of my favorite places to go! Beautiful and there were so many ferns and beautiful moss everywhere, if you're into that kinda stuff. The falls are remarkably beautiful.

on North-South Trail

11 months ago

Northern section is more scenic but overall a great experience & happy we completed the entire trail.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

This was an amazing trail. I hope you like a long steep hill to climb right off the bat. Very nice rock formations, and caves along the way. Once you get to the top, it's mostly smooth sailing with some small climbs. Towards the end there is an awesome camp site near the bottom of the hill by a natural water source. Make sure you have plenty of water. Because there is not much other than the beginning and the end of the trail. This trail was great with cool views. Will be visiting this trail more often. Its great to make a 2 day camping trip out of. A+

Monday, February 20, 2017

Fun trail, mostly easy with two steep incline/decline at each end. Trail was in alright condition considering the rainfall and horse traffic that some of the trail sees. The trail offers glimpses of what the gorge has to offer, and in a much less trafficked area.

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