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Kywilderness.com Discussion => Red River Gorge => Topic started by: andy_p. on April 02, 2003, 08:31:05 PM

Title: Intense Hikes
Post by: andy_p. on April 02, 2003, 08:31:05 PM
I just spent this past Spring Break camping across Ky., and by far the best of it was in the Red.  My question is this:  What are the most intense and rugged trails to hike there?  I've been to the websites and own a book, but I was wanting to know from you all if you know of any incredible trails.  Thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: discojett on April 02, 2003, 09:03:45 PM
I've hiked em all, and I wouldn't classify any of the trails as "intense" trails, or rugged for that matter, maybe Rough Trail.  The further you hike up the Douglas Trail, the rougher it gets.  But thats not an "official" trail.

Head to the Clifty Wilderness, get a good map, and then try to get lost.  That place is too cool, but the trails miss most of the goodies!
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: genes on April 02, 2003, 09:30:49 PM
Swift Camp Creek from one end to the other is intense.  The most difficult section is from Wildcat Trail to Rock Bridge.  Also some of the most beautiful views in the entire Gorge.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Steve on April 03, 2003, 02:44:57 AM
I'm with disco, the most xtreme trails aren't really trails at all.  By the nature of the hills of eastern KY the toughest stuff is off trail.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: timbros on April 03, 2003, 01:35:05 PM
Yup.  Bushwhackin is where it's at!
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Cliftyman on April 03, 2003, 02:29:11 PM
hey andy p.  have you ever been to the breaks, on top of Pine Mountain or on top of the Cumberland mountains in KY?
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: JB on April 03, 2003, 03:06:59 PM
why would that matter? >:(

I read several books recently and Craig Childs The Secret Knowledge of Water (thanks disco) has been the best and I'd like to read more of his stuff. That doesn't mean that I won't LOVE me some Aldo Leopold, I just haven't gotten to it yet.

off-trail is where it's at in the RRG. Mariba Fork, Sal Branch, Upper Red, Wolfpen. Way cool spots.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: discojett on April 03, 2003, 03:14:39 PM
Yeah JB, that one is my favorite Childs book.  Check out Soul of Nowhere, his newest, heavy on the metaphors, but the places this guy goes.....
He's responsible for my fascination with the Colorado Plateau's redrock canyons!
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Cliftyman on April 03, 2003, 06:44:52 PM
I was going to say if Andy_p hadn't he ought to check em out.  They can be very pretty as well.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: timbros on April 03, 2003, 07:12:23 PM
True Clifty.  I would also say that Pine Mountain Trail and Cumberland Gap Trails could be more intense being that they are always going way up or way down.  Ridge to Gap Ridge to Gap.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Thumper on April 03, 2003, 07:49:15 PM
Intense can mean a number of things, though. Going up and down is one element, but I'd really call that "strenuous" rather than "intense." I think "intense" means scampering over lots of big rocks, stooping through rhododendron slicks, pulling yourself up itty-bitty trails by saplings and chinks in the rocks, and such. In other words, getting ALL the muscles involved in hiking. So, you can have an intense hiking experience on a fairly flat trail.

As such, the two most intense trails I've hiked in Kentucky are the trails to Dog Slaughter Falls and the north end of the Cumberland Shadow Trail on Martin's Fork Lake in Harlan County. If I get to include a bit of Virginia in the reckoning, the clear winner is the Devil's Fork Loop.

But since the question is about the Red River Gorge, I guess I'll have to abstain for now.  :)
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: discojett on April 03, 2003, 08:21:15 PM
Sal Branch is extremely intense.  Copperas Creek has about a dozen water crossings, it might be considered intense.  Also a very nice surprise waiting at the end of that hike.  But these places don't have trails, which is fortunate I think.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: andy_p. on April 04, 2003, 12:18:35 AM
Thanks everyone for the responses!  I'm pretty much a beginner, but I'm already hooked.  Cliftyman, I haven't been to the Breaks yet, but I plan to over the summer.  I've heard that its great there.  What can you all tell me about Pinnacle Point?  Is it worth the trip down there?  Thanks!
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: andy_p. on April 04, 2003, 12:22:12 AM
PM Thumper, I was just reading about Dog Slaughter today and marked it as something I really want to hike.  There are some really nice views of both falls aren't there?
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Cliftyman on April 04, 2003, 12:22:53 PM
I heard Bad Branch Falls is pretty intense.....

BTW you might want to try some wild caving if you want some intensity.  I know its a little off subject but PM_Thumper's explanation of an intense hike reminded me of wild caving......  twisting, turning, rolling, stooping, bear walking, crawling, wiggling, squirming, climbing, repelling it doesn't get much more intense than wild caving......
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: timbros on April 04, 2003, 04:03:06 PM
Dog Slaugter is really nice!  However, the hike is not intense at all being it is mostly trail along the river.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: keith on April 04, 2003, 04:34:50 PM
Dog Slaughter Rocks!
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Thumper on April 04, 2003, 05:14:00 PM
Oh, I still disagree. I've not been very far up the Dog Slaughter Trail, but what I've seen of it makes my point perfectly. Yeah, it's a walk along a stream -- and so you don't have much elevation gain -- but the uphill parts are steeper and rockier than many other trails. I've been on trails with longer and steeper climbs that weren't nearly so intense.

As Clifty points out, the trail in the Bad Branch Nature Preserve is a pretty intense day hike; you have to climb over some boulders and such, and there is MUCH more elevation gain to get up to High Rock than to get to Dog Slaughter Falls. But still the Bad Branch trails are mostly just nice paths through the woods.

By the way, I also think that off-trail exploration is by definition more intense than trail walking, regardless of where you're doing it. It would therefore be pretty easy to find a hike that's intense just for the sake of being intense by simply taking a topo map and looing for high concentrations of contour lines.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Thumper on April 04, 2003, 05:16:42 PM
Oh, and to answer andy's question: Yes, that's also one of the prettiest hikes you'll find.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: timbros on April 04, 2003, 05:25:25 PM
I was thinking more along the lines of The STT to Dogslaughter.  PM is correct about Dog Slaughter trail being more steep and rocky, but I couldn't rate a 1.3 mile trail as intense......unless it was straight up a rock face, but I think that's more of a JB thing....
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Thumper on April 04, 2003, 05:36:00 PM
Point well-taken.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Cliftyman on April 04, 2003, 07:50:31 PM
I thought the River Trail in Breaks Interstate Park was pretty intense.  The elevation change (about 1600 feet down to the river level) weren't too bad because of plenty of switchbacks but the trail was on a 65 degree incline pretty much the whole time (by far the most intense part).  We went on a dry day, if you were to go on a wet day it could be fatal.  One misstep leaves no room for error in several places.  There are a couple places where you have to cross large beds of rock that could make for some nice ankle twisters too.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: JB on April 04, 2003, 09:38:34 PM
I like trails that are Extremely intense, not just regular intense.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Thumper on April 04, 2003, 10:43:01 PM
I did that loop around the River Trail/Prospector Trail/Laurel Branch Trail one day in January after we'd had a big snow, starting at the bottom where the little trail winds down along Center Creek. Most of the snow was melted, but that made Center Creek very, very, high and swift and had left the other trails really icy. It was a day with highs in the 20s, making it both really important and nearly impossible not to get too wet. I stopped for a lunch break at that little rockshelter about halfway up the switchbacks and my legs decided to cramp up and not let me continue for a good long time. Yeah, I guess you're right; it's pretty intense.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: keith on April 04, 2003, 11:48:11 PM
Arthur and I had a pretty intense hike up to Natural Bridge once.

3/4 miles uphill is a bitch with 20" of snow and downed trees  ;D
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: discojett on April 05, 2003, 12:55:01 AM
i like incense.  anything but patchouli.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: andy_p. on April 05, 2003, 02:39:06 PM
I've read also that there is a cave on the trail to Pinnacle Point.  Do any of you all know anything about this?
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Thumper on April 05, 2003, 11:04:02 PM
Okay, I'm gonna go ahead and show my ignorance: Where exactly is Pinnacle Point?
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: andy_p. on April 05, 2003, 11:55:56 PM
I could be wrong, but I thought Pinnacle Point was the highest elevation in Ky.  It is located near Cumberland Gap.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Thumper on April 06, 2003, 07:21:50 AM
Ah! Well, there's a feature called the Pinnacles near Cumberland Gap. You can get there via automobile or hike up on several trails, including the Ridge Trail. There are some nice views from several overlooks around the Pinnacles, some Civil War earthworks, and several really cool natural rock columns. There is a small cave on the Lewis Hollow Trail that you can pass on the way to the Pinnacles -- and there may be others I don't know about. I love hiking in the Cumberland Gap area, but I wouldn't call any of those trails "intense" by the definition that I've been so stubbornly defending here. But this is a hike that can give you (I think) about 1500 feet of elevation gain, the upper part of which is pretty steep. I like the little loop around the Lewis Hollow/Ridge/Gibson Gap trails at CG, and there's a campsite available at the top near Gibson Gap (not to mention a developed camping area at the bottom).

The highest point in Kentucky is Black Mountain, which is right on the Virginia border in northeast Harlan County. Unfortunately (for a number of reasons), it's on private land owned by the Penn Virginia Coal Company. You can go there, but since the coal company claims it's dangerous, you have to sign a release and agree to stay on the little access road up to the summit. I believe that you also have to agree to get out by dark. It's a walk of somewhat less than three miles, very tame, and there's nothing much to see once you get there. All things considered, it's much more fun to go to Kingdom Come State Park and look at Black Mountain. Most people who summit Black Mountain do so because they just want to say they've done so, but there are enough of them that you can actually get the release form online.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: Cliftyman on April 07, 2003, 12:25:21 PM
Black Mtn is pretty nice from Kingdom Come.  I don't know if I would want to go on top unless I had the cahonies (sp!) to climb that old tower though....  From what I understand there is no view unless you can get up there.
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: timbros on April 07, 2003, 01:08:24 PM
Here's a link to the online release form for Black Mountain

http://americasroof.com/ky-release2.html
Title: Re: Intense Hikes
Post by: keith on April 07, 2003, 01:08:43 PM
cajones  ;)