Overview. This is a fantastic hike for anyone who LOVES hiking! The Gladie Creek Loop starts deep in the gorge and climbs out on Lost Branch Trail. You'll enjoy a long walk in the forest, two good-sized water crossings at Salt Fork and Gladie Creek, feel rocky terrain similar to the Appalachian Trail, see two waterfalls, and likely see climbers making their way up Tower Rock.
Route Type: Loop
Total Distance: 10 miles
Overall Difficulty: Moderate
USDA Forest Service Trail Map
USDA Forest Service Trail Map of Red River Gorge Area
Trailhead. The best starting point for this hike is at the Bison Way Trailhead located on the north side of KY-715 [map]. This is a small and very popular parking area - overflow parking is available just east at Gladie Creek Visitor's Center.
Trail navigation. Head north on Bison Way Trail until it intersects with Sheltowee Trace about 6/10th of a mile in. At the junction, turn right (east) and continue on Sheltowee Trace marked with both white diamond and turtle (sheltowee) blazes. About 3 miles into the hike, you'll come up to and cross Salt Fork - departing Sheltowee Trace and starting Lost Branch Trail by continuing straight (east). Another 4/10th of a mile later, you'll cross Gladie Creek and begin the ascent out of the gorge. At mile 5, you'll intersect with Osborne Bend that is a great place to stop for a snack. Turn right (south) and follow Osborne Bend until approximately mile 7 where you'll hear a waterfall on your right. You can scramble down to get a better view of the waterfall that is best seen during the wet season or after a heavy rain. Scramble back up and finish Osborne Bend at KY-715. Head west (turn right) and keep a lookout on the right for Tower Rock Trail that is easily missed at mile 8. Hike up to this geological oddity (a rock in the middle of the gorge that rises 200') and watch climbers do their thing. Continue back down to KY-715 and look to the right near mile 9.25. There is a waterfall with a couple parking spots in front of it. Walk down to view them and continue back on KY-715 to the Bison Way Trailhead to finish the hike.
CAUTION - WATER CROSSINGS. Most water crossings are small and easy in Red River Gorge. The crossings on this hike - especially Gladie Creek - can be dangerous in high water. As a rule, if it's greater than knee deep with a swift current, turn back. [tips]