Friday, July 15, 2011

 

Visiting Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Park

This week my youngest son, Alex, and I went backpacking and almost camped at Red River Gorge in Kentucky. Although I've hiked many trails in the Smoky Mountains National Park at much higher altitudes, Red River Gorge provided the most hazardous trail I've ever walked.

The Alum Cave Bluff trail and Charlie's Bunion, at 1,100 feet the highest vertical drop in the eastern U.S., in the Smoky's give the occasional extreme cliff face. The trails in Red River Gorge offer disaster at nearly any step. Wandering off the trail could easily be fatal.

Walking across Sky Bridge Arch, at the narrowest point I could have virtually reached both sides with outstretched finger tips. Rather unnerving while carrying a 40 pound backpack.



An interesting rock on Auxier Ridge Trail. High drop off immediately behind Alex.



View from Tunnel Ridge Road.



Alex on top of Natural Bridge with Lover's Leap in the background in Natural Bridge State Park.



Alex underneath Natural Bridge.



The northern entrance to Nada Tunnel in Red River Gorge. Nada Tunnel was built in 1910-1911 for use by a narrow gauge railway for transporting of logs. It is cut out of solid rock with no supports, approximately 12 feet wide and 13 feet tall and 900 feet long.



Driving through Nada Tunnel, you can see the bare rock.

We hiked approximately 5-6 miles in 90 degree heat. We decided to head over to Natural Bridge State Park and get a room instead of back country camping. Hiking out added another 2-3 miles to our journey, but the buffet at the lodge at Natural Bridge made it worth it. The hiking was the most strenuous exercise I've had in several years.

Comments:
Wow! What a beautiful place. I am not into dangerous trails so I'm unlikely ever to see it in person. Thanks for the travelogue.
 
You were quick to see this!! The frequent and close proximity of cliffs gave my son and I all the excitement we needed.
 
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