Overview. I believe Jerrell Goodpaster coined the name of this hike, so we’ll go with it:-) Tarr Ridge Extravaganza is a fantastic hike with four spurs leading to massive views at the end of each. The first two are readily accessible, but the third and fourth are a different story. We were able to reach the first three, but the fourth was a sketchy rock climb with an even sketchier ‘rope’. It pays to know if you’re a hiker or a climber - and we’re hikers:-)
Route Type | Out and Back
Total Distance | 4 miles
Overall Difficulty | Easy
*this hike is on unmarked trails and requires rope work
Trailhead. The trailhead can be found on the east side of Tarr Ridge Road (KY-77). There are no facilities, but two signs clearly mark this parking lot as the entrance to Red River Gorge Geological Area. [map - waiting for Google approval]
Trail navigation. Navigating this hike is relatively easy, but there are plenty of side trails that can mislead you. To make navigation easier for you, we hiked out to the end of the trail so we could mark distances for each spur trail from the trailhead. Each is a right turn from the main trail. Here are the distances to each turn:
Overlook #1 | 0.60 miles
Overlook #2 | 1.20 miles
Overlook #3 | 1.30 miles
Overlook #4 | 1.45 miles
*The last overlook spur begins at a 4-way intersection; turn right
Now, about those ropes. At Overlook #4, the first we hiked, there was a short rock climb with a very thin rope. We skipped it because it’s a bad fall from either side and no matter the view, the injury risk wasn’t worth it. Instead, we hiked around the lower ledge to the right of the rope and had a lot of fun. This eventually peters out, but in between, there’s plenty of beautiful rock to see and a few mini ‘windows’ that are always a beautiful sight.
After having our fill there, we went to Overlook #3 and there was a much sturdier rope with hand/foot holds looped in. Plus, it was a far less dangerous fall should things have gone awry. Ratona climbed the rock straight up while I walked across from one rock to the next (I’m 6’3”, so it was easier for me this way). The view at this overlook was the best of the three with the rock outcropping extending a good ways around the ridge offering a more expansive view of the gorge below.
Overlook #2 was occupied by a couple guys that came down from the northern Ohio and Michigan to enjoy the Fall season. We had a nice chat with them and more great views. There is one spot where you’ll slide down on your butt and have a bit of a slick climb back up from the lowest ledge, but it was dry. When it’s wet, snowy, or icy? Maybe not the best idea.
Earlier in the year, we’d been at Overlook #1 which has a great view looking straight out to the gorge. It’s cool to stop there after being at the other overlooks and know that you’d been out there and there and there:-) This is also the most overgrown of the group, so long pants are nice to wear on this hike - even when it’s hot.
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]