On Sunday, Nick and I made a trip to Red River Gorge. I first heard about the gorge from a friend before I had even moved from Indianapolis and it sounded incredible. We’ve had it in the back of our minds, but have never found the perfect weekend to go. Now that we’re both into climbing and hearing about it a lot from climbers, our eagerness was renewed, and we finally hit the road.
Located within the Daniel Boone National Forest, Red River Gorge is just a two hour drive from where we are in Louisville. Close by is Natural Bridge State Resort Park, which has one of the most famous hikes in the area. This is where we started our day of hiking.
The original trail that leads to the natural bridge is one of the most popular, with good reason. Although it has steady elevation gain for the better part of the trail, we saw dozens of families hiking together. It was a far cry from the usual solitary hiking that Nick and I do, but it was fun to see so many people outside enjoying the beautiful day. The only part of this hike that I didn’t like was going through a narrow natural fracture; it started to make me feel claustrophobic and dizzy while pressing my way through. However, the view from the top was entirely worth it.
After getting to the top of Natural Bridge, we hiked further along the trail to another lookout, where you can get a better view of the bridge itself, as well as good panoramic of the surrounding area.
After enjoying a snack atop the bridge and exploring a a few more bits of trails at the top, we hiked back down the way we came. Descending gave our quads quite the work out, and we were glad to sit down and take a break near the gift shop. While we were there, we tried to decide where we wanted to hike next within Red River Gorge itself. Pro tip: bring a map (and maybe a trail guide book.) That was the lesson we learned the hard way. Sometimes Siri just doesn’t cut it.
After driving around for a while, we finally got to where we thought we wanted to be. We did find a trail head for the Wildcat Trail, but we could tell it wasn’t hiked very often, or recently. After just about half a mile we cam across some severe tree damage that was blocking the path. We opted to turn around, look at the map posted by the trail head, and choose a different trail.
We went with Hidden Arch Trail, which is more popular and well-maintained. It was a short and easy hike to see this beautiful geological feature.
By the time we got back to the parking lot, we had about 5.5 miles of hiking under our belts. Not too much, but enough to work up an appetite. We made a beeline to Miguels Pizza, which is a must-do when you’re visiting the Red. There are so many toppings to choose from, but ordered sweet potato, black beans, onion and avocado. While I’m pretty sure any pizza would taste great after hiking or climbing, this pizza truly was outstanding. I’m a pizza snob, being from Chicagoland, but the crust was perfect in my mind…a little doughy, a little crispy.
By the time we finished eating, it was only about 5:00PM but we were wiped out. We decided to head back to Louisville and save some adventures for next time!