Overview. Having been to Gray’s Arch many times in the past, this is the first time I’ve hiked it out and back. It’s a short hike at just over two and a quarter miles, but it’s always a magnificent sight - and it’s a different look in every season. With much of the forest having shed its leaves, it was nice to get a full view from above that you can see in the gallery below.
Route Type | Out and Back
Total Distance | 2.35 miles
Overall Difficulty | Moderate (90 steps to climb coming back)
USDA Forest Service Map of Red River Gorge Area
Trailhead. From KY-15, turn onto Tunnel Ridge Road and follow it out about 0.9 miles to reach Gray’s Arch Picnic Area. [map]
Trail navigation. This is one of the most heavily traveled trails in Red River Gorge with only two trail intersections. Begin at the trailhead and follow Gray’s Arch Trail out to the intersection with Rough Trail. Turn right (north) here and begin your descent. Along the way, you will pass some wooden fencing. From mid-Fall through mid-Spring, you should be able to see the arch with only some small tree limbs to obstruct your view. Continue down the trail to reach three sets of stairs totaling 90 steps. At the bottom of the third staircase, continue straight to go on to Gray’s Arch. When leaves aren’t present, there is a small arch to the right when you look up just past the trail intersection. Continue around to view the enormous rock shelter in front of you and the arch to the left. The climb to the arch has a number of rock steps with a dirt trail to the side. Use the rocks! They have been put there to preserve the trail. Make your way up, taking care on the uneven and somewhat slick rock until you reach the wide, sandy area under the arch. Take your time here to explore your surroundings and take in the enormity of this, one of Kentucky’s greatest natural treasures. Retrace your steps to return to the trailhead.
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]