Overview. This is a great day hike with plenty of physical challenge, interesting geology throughout, and more than a few great views. We mixed up the hike a bit by taking Gray’s Arch Trail over to Rush Ridge before rejoining Rough Trail. This eliminates one of the tough climbs on Rough Trail and replaces it with some easy, peaceful miles in the woods.
Trailhead. Martin’s Fork is the trailhead we used to hike this from west to east. We dropped a car earlier in the day at the Rough Trail/Swift Camp Creek Trailhead on KY-715. [Martin’s Fork] [Rough Trail/Swift Camp Creek]
Trail navigation. Start out on Rough Trail and make your way up and past D. Boon Hut Trail that will be on the right at mile 1.1. Continue on until mile 1.6 where you’ll intersect with Gray’s Arch Trail. Stay to the right here and follow the trail to the Gray’s Arch Picnic Area at mile 1.9. Move through the parking lot and east on Tunnel Ridge Road to mile 2 where you’ll see blazes that mark Pinch ‘em Tight Trail. Turn north here and continue out the ridge a quarter mile to find Rush Ridge Trail. Make a left here to turn north for about a mile to reconnect with Rough Trail. Turn right (east) to follow Rough Trail to its end at KY-715. Note, there are great views in the first mile of the hike and the last couple miles, so be sure to take some time to enjoy them.
CAUTION - Cliffs. Be careful to avoid getting too close the edge of cliffs, as this is the leading cause of serious injury and death when hiking in Red River Gorge.
CAUTION - Poisonous snakes. While the gorge is within the range of timber rattlesnakes, copperheads are the most common poisonous snake encountered. Stay alert on the trail, as snakes are commonly found taking in the warmth of the trail. Give them a wide berth or wait for them to move off the trail.
CAUTION - Bears. Black bears are growing in number throughout Daniel Boone National Forest. Be sure to follow bear safety precautions. [Be Bear Aware by US Forest Service]