If you are like me, you want to hike as often as possible no matter what the weather is like. And our weather has been extremely hot and humid lately. I am a member of the Powell County Search and Rescue and we have been responding to a high volume of calls within the last couple of weeks. Many of these are due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. I want to share with you some ways to help your hike be enjoyable and safe.
First thing to do is check the weather. This will allow you to know what clothing to wear. And right now with the heat we have been having, loose clothing is preferred. It allows for better airflow which in turn helps keep you cooler.
Second, choose your trail wisely. Believe it or not this is one of the most important things to do during this heat. There is a big difference hiking on a ridge in the sun to hiking on a lower trail that is all in the shade. Find out the difficulty level and the distance, also.
Third, start early to avoid the midday heat. Miss Katelyn, one of my wonderful co-workers at WSKV, joined me for a hike last Friday on the Skybridge Trail. The first thing we decided was to do it in the morning. And then I chose this trail because it was one of the shorter ones in the gorge and not to strenuous. Well, that is if you start on the trail instead of the bridge. Make sure to do this! Everyone is usually excited to see the bridge first. But if you do that you will have to go up a ton of stairs at the end followed by an uphill grade all the way back to your vehicle.
Fourth, and I cannot stress this enough, take plenty of water. Sweating profusely is a given on a hot weather hike and drinking water is essential to restore your body fluid levels. It's also just as important to replenish the electrolytes you lose through sweating. They play a major role in managing your energy levels. So put a small Gatorade and some salty snacks like a trail mix or energy bars in your pack, too. And now for my last tip.
Fifth, don't feel you have to prove you are in shape. Take breaks! Find a log or a big rock, sit down, pull out your water and snacks and enjoy the scenery. Give your challenged body some much needed rest. Regular breaks also lets your body cool down.
Be careful y'all. I want you to enjoy this beautiful area we live in, but I also want you to get back home safe and sound. OH!! Don't forget bug spray!! Skybridge trail was horrible with flies and deer-flies! The combination of hot and humid weather, a shady forest and a sweaty hiker often results in a swarm of irritating bugs!
Hi there! Has this been a wild and crazy start to our year, or what? If you are like me and so ready to hit the trails, I encourage you to join me in doing it in a safe, healthy and respectable manner. I know we are excited and anxious to get out there but please take a moment to read this and please make sure to do your part.
Do you need some ideas on what trails to go on? You can always read my blog posts or you can check out this page for free maps that can easily be printed! https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/dbnf/recreation/hiking
If you are thinking about going somewhere other than Red River Gorge, below is a list of other areas and their tentative opening dates.
Now, get that pack ready...hiking gear on....and don't forget your water! Stay safe y'all and Happy Hiking!!
We have had the absolute best winter weather for hiking this year! Well...when it isn't raining! I hiked this trail a couple of weeks ago and knew it was going to be great because the parking lot was totally empty. And I was not disappointed. This is probably one of the busiest trails in the are. So a quiet trail...by myself...tends to lead to a wonderful conversation with God.
I was going thru my list of trails that I have wrote about and could not believe I have not shared this one with y'all! My sincerest apologies! I wish everyone had the opportunity to stand on top of this gigantic natural bridge. But not everyone can make the hike. It is rough. It is a gravel/paved/dirt trail that starts right off with...yep, you guessed it...stairs. Whether it be wood steps, rock steps or poles across the trail, there are well over 200, maybe even closer to 300, steps! Now, I always park at Hoedown Island and head up that way. So maybe there is somewhere else to park that would eliminate some steps. Let me know if there is!
Thankfully, though, there are shelters and benches all along the way. Use them folks! Don't be embarrassed or ashamed. This is a hard, uphill hike and I want you to get to the top!
There are a few informational signs along the trail. Take a breather and read those as well. They are very interesting. This is a wide trail with lots of room. At one point there is a sign that mentions this is the easiest trail up to the bridge. It always cracks me up!! Easy?? Maybe coming down.
If this is your first time, know that once you get to the bridge you are not finished. One of my favorite parts of this hike is getting to the top! If you notice in the pictures below, there is a tiny trail that goes between the bridge and another huge rock. You go thru there! Kids love it! I love it! It is seriously one of the highlights of this trail. I took a picture of my foot on one of the steps to show you just how tight of a squeeze it is.
Now you are almost to the top! A few more steps to go! Now, take it all in. Find a spot to sit down and take in the view.
Since I knew this was an opportune time to get a picture of the bridge with no people on it, I went on ahead and hiked the easy trail over to Lover's Leap. It took me about 10 minutes to get over there. But it was so worth it. Look at this beautiful picture! We are blessed to live in this gorgeous part of Kentucky!
Please be safe when you are up top and please do not throw rocks off the bridge. Someone could be down below.
Bundle up, grab your daypack and get outdoors! I would love to hear if you hike it! Be safe y'all!
'Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.' - John Muir
We have had a plethora of warm days in December! This is the perfect weather for hiking. Not to cold and not to hot...just perfect. Hidden Arch trail is a very nice trail to hike. Easy in and easy out with moderate difficulty in between.
As you look at the pictures above, I want to bring a couple things to your attention. Be careful as you walk on all those leaves. They can be very slippery in spots and they also make it a little tricky to see the path in areas. If you do get confused, remember to look for the white diamonds that are painted on trees to mark the trail.
There is a small area that gets pretty narrow and another spot that has a good size rock with tree roots that you have to climb up to stay on the trail. Nothing major, just wanting to make you aware.
And what is a trail without stairs? Gotta keep that cardio going strong, right? What I have pictured is all there is, though. So it's not that bad.
To get to this trail, go to Koomer Ridge Campground. Right now, since there are no campers, drive on down to the campground road to the left. It starts out as Koomer Ridge Trail #220 with Hidden Arch turning off of it about 1/2 mile later but rejoining it on past the arch. So this makes it a loop trail that is about 2 miles out and back. Perfect hike for this weather!
Stay warm, be safe and have fun! Even though it isn't hot, still be sure to pack water an snacks. And remember,
'Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.' - John Muir
This beautiful lake is just past Natural Bridge State Resort Park on Hwy 11. As you round the curve by the campground the lake is on the opposite side of the road. Tucked in and away so neatly that it is easily missed.
Once on the water, you are totally surrounded by a gorgeous, dense forest. I love how quiet it is. The only sounds I hear are the rustling of the leaves from a gusty breeze, water lapping against my kayak and birds singing their songs.
The lake is around 95 acres which makes it a nice couple hour float. If you enjoy fishing, I have seen some giant bass and decent size crappy in here.
It is a trolling motor only lake, which is fine with me. I will be the first to admit that I am a wimp when it comes to choppy or fast moving water. I love the peacefulness of calm waters.
And then we come to this picture. The farther back you go the more clear it gets. This area freaks me out! I guess I have watched one to many scary movies. I could look over the side of my kayak and see a good 10' down. When the water is that clear and I can't see the bottom?? Yep, freaked out.
But then all I have to do is look back up and see this view. Absolutely gorgeous! So since we are having crazy hot weather for September, what better time to get out on the water! Get your PFD (life jacket) on along with some suntan lotion and check this beauty out. Be safe and have fun!
I am a huge fan of state parks. They have some of my favorite things! Hiking trails, lakes, lodges with restaurants and gift shops, cabins and usually some good old peace and quiet. Greenbo did not disappoint!
This trip was all about sweet time with my husband, kayaking and rest. Lakes that allow more than idle speed are not my idea of rest. At least on a kayak. And for those reasons, Greenbo Lake was perfect.
We paddled over 4 miles on smooth water with beautiful scenery. While out in the middle, the water was so dark, almost black. But the closer we got to the shoreline, it turned a beautiful emerald green and was extremely clear.
Most of the surrounding forest was your typical maples, oaks, sweet gum and so on. But we soon came to an area where it was nothing but evergreens. It was almost like we were on a completely different lake. And it smelled wonderful!
We were also blessed to see a deer come out of the woods for a drink. (I drew an arrow on one of the pics below so you can see it...kinda.) Pay attention to your surroundings and take it all in. You never know what you will miss!
And although there was a steady breeze, the sun was very hot. The awesome part, though, of being in a kayak, is you can quickly cool yourself off!
So if you need a new place to kayak, and don't mind driving just over an hour and a half, Greenbo Lake is highly recommended. And an added bonus is if you are a Kentuckian, you get a lodging discount! Have fun y'all and be safe! Always, always wear your PDF. Let me know if you go!
If you are looking for a hike outside of the Red River Gorge, try The Pinnacles just outside of Berea.
This little park area has a few trails to the West and East Pinnacle and a beautiful overlook called Indian Ford Lookout. If you have never been here before, I highly advise you to see the lookout. But let me tell ya, it is straight up and I'd like to die! But so worth it!
It has been about a month since my last hike! I have been wanting to get out, but this heat and hiking really don't mix that well. So we chose to hike out to see the West Pinnacle in the morning and made sure to have plenty of water.
After leaving the huge parking lot, you will take the paved trail marked by the sign in the picture above. This will lead you to the trailhead and also a very nice map. There you will see all the trails they have to offer.
Once you begin going uphill it don't end for a long time. So take breaks. Enjoy the scenery around you and catch your breath. I did about 3 times!
As you can see from some of these pictures, the trail can be nice and smooth at one point, rocky at another and very much filled with roots in another area. The trail will come to an intersection and you will want to turn to the left. There is a really nice bench you can rest on before you venture on.
One of the nice things here is that their trails are very well marked with nice signs.
The closer you get to the pinnacle the more difficult the trail becomes. Climbing rocks and squeezing through some tight spaces. But isn't that part of a fun adventure?
There was a time or two, though, when we wondered if we were there or not. We were getting a little bummed because we weren't finding a wonderful opening where you can overlook the valley below. But we found it! So just keep going until you can't go anymore.
We climbed up on of the pinnacle and was able to see part of our state's beautiful scenery. I will say, though, that it may be better to do this hike in the winter or beginning of spring when the leaves are off the trees. You only have a couple spots with a good view.
Although this trail is in the shade, remember to pack plenty of water. So go grab you camera and have fun! And remember...“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” - John Muir
For one reason or another, I have never hiked to Grays Arch until now. I have lived here in Powell County for almost 13 years and I can't begin to try and calculate all the miles that I have hiked in the Red River Gorge. But for the life of me, I cannot figure out why I have let this gem of a hike sneak by me! I love this trail! So much so that I came home and told my husband that we HAVE to do this together soon!
As you pull into the parking area, you instantly see picnic tables scattered around and all of them in a beautiful setting, If you don't want to hike and are just looking for a new picnic spot, this is really nice. There are even 2 bathrooms close by.
This trail was absolutely wonderful and easy for the first, I'd say, 2/3rd's of the way. Extremely flat with no uphill or downhill whatsoever. It is around 2 1/2 miles from the parking lot to the arch and back. I didn't do the loop trail because Ranger is good for about 2 miles. Any further I would probably have to carry him.
The wild rhododendrons were blooming and you can see some pretty views if you take one of the short paths that veer off the trail. But! Only if you stay a good distance from the edge! I saw we had another serious injury this week in the gorge. Please be safe y'all.
Once you notice you are starting to go downhill, you will pretty much continue that until you arrive at the arch. The cool thing though, is that when you head back you know that it is smooth sailing once you get up top to level ground.
The next few pictures are of the rocks, steps and you guessed it...stairs. SHEW!
When I came to this next spot, I thought I was there! There is a wooden fence with a very well worn path on the other side of it. And if you look real close, you can see the arch. So I just figured you must go around the fence, stay on that path and quickly get to the arch. But my instincts kicked in, saw the diamond on a tree and I continued on the same trail I was on. It sure confused me though. The arch was right there! Why was the trail going away from it?
I cannot stress enough to stay away from the cliff edges. If I would have taken this other path, I would have been on top of a huge rock wall, that you will see when you get to the arch, that is extremely high. One slip of the foot and it's all over. I am so thankful I stayed on the trail. It did eventually lead to Grays Arch.
I was absolutely in awe of the size of this arch! I was bummed because I couldn't get a good picture of it no matter where I stood. It is so massive! It is pretty difficult getting up underneath of it, though. My puppy-dog, Ranger, even had to think about his next steps. So when you do get there, grab a seat and take it all in. Drink your water and grab one of those snacks you brought. It is stunning.
Take advantage of this AMAZING cool weather we are having! Grab that camera, be safe and have fun!
I have not been on Chimney Top for years! It also has been awhile since I have taken our puppy on a hike. So I thought that this trail would be perfect because not only is it easy, it is also quick. Well, unless you decide to chill out at the overlook. Overlooks are like a campfire for me. I can just sit there and stare off into wonderland forever!
As we started on the trail I was so excited to see a paved path! I thought I could finally write that we have a trail that is wheelchair friendly! But it saddens me to say that it is not. The pavement turns rough and more like gravel and there are a couple hills that I think would be hard to push/pull someone. It is still a nice, easy, little hike, though.
You only have to walk .25 miles to see one of the most beautiful overlooks in the Red River Gorge.
As you can see from my pictures, the view is amazing! But even more important is that you can see those views at a comfortable distance from the edge. Please be safe y'all! Choose to get outdoors more and see this beautiful area we live in!
'Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.' - John Muir
I am out of the woods and into the water in this post. It's kayak season! This last weekend I was able to participate in the 3rd Annual Bluegrass River Run at Fort Boonesborough State Park. If you enjoy kayaking or canoeing I highly encourage you to be part of this next year. Not only was the camaraderie with fellow participants great, I also got to spend time and have fun with one of my boys.
I have been wanting to kayak on the Kentucky River for a few years now, but for one reason or another I just never got around to doing it. But if I'm honest, it's probably due to not knowing how quick or strong the river current was and how much debris I would have to paddle around. But I did it and am so glad I did! Not only was the current extremely slow, there was truly no debris. This makes for one nice float. And to top that off, the stretch between the park and Proud Mary's BBQ (take-out), is absolutely gorgeous.
One of the first cool things I noticed was this huge hole in the side of the cliff. My son thinks it is a vent of some sort. I just think it is cool.
Another highlight was watching Blue Heron Cranes landing in the tip top of a tree! I have never seen that before! I always see them on a branch close to the water or them standing in the water. But as I floated closer I noticed that this tree was FULL of them. If you look closely at the photo below you can see black spots all over the top of the tree. Those are nests! So cool.
On this trip I learned that our state's namesake river is 260 miles long, about one-third of a mile wide and has an average depth of 20 feet. The river is broken up with a system of locks and dams every 15-20 miles. 100 miles of the river, including the stretch we floated, is within a canyon system called the Kentucky River Palisades. We live in such a beautiful part of the state y'all.
Just as we round the bend to the take-out spot, there is a waterway off to the right which is Boone Creek. Of course we had to check it out. We were able to go in a little ways but had to turn around because of a fallen tree blocking any further access. The little bit we floated was really neat!
And then, before we knew it, 2 hours had come and gone and we could start hearing the roar of I75. Up ahead we saw the bridge and new the float was coming to an end. Although my arms were pretty tired, I would have loved to keep going.
But now I know that I love kayaking the Kentucky River. I hope that if you haven't and been thinking of doing it that you try this stretch. You will love it! Please wear you PFD at all times when floating. Take some water with you and maybe even a little snack. But most of all have fun and #optoutside!