SUMMARY: A difficult hike to an unmarked arch with great views. For the motivated hikers and arch lovers stop by Cat’s Paw arch in route, a classic pillar arch.
RATING: Difficult Hike (about 1.2 miles) The distance is short on this hike, but the entire trail is unmarked, most of which is not even a trail, but rather a journey through thick thorns, with a challenging scramble to get below the arch. Wear long sleeves and good pants. This hike uses unmarked trails and many people have trouble navigating the hike. This hike has scrambles/climbs that can be dangerous or deadly. A quality map, compass and deep woods navigating skills are essential for your safety on this hike.
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO WALK: Early spring when flowers are blooming or autumn when you can catch the fall colors. The USDA Forest Office is located in Winchester, Kentucky about an hour from Red River Gorge. For up to date information either stop in the Ranger District Office, visit their website or telephone: (859) 745-3100
AMOUNT OF TIME NEEDED: Allow a half of a day (2-4 hours) to enjoy this hike.
DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD:
- From rest area at exit #33 off of the Mountain State Parkway Turn left, and return to the Mountain State Park – West (8.0 miles)
- Take Exit 40 for for KY-15/KY-715 toward Beattyville. (0.3 miles)
- Turn right at KY-15 N/KY-715 N. (0.7 miles)
- Take the 1st right onto KY-715 N. (2.2 miles)
- Turn left Chimney Rock Road. (2.5 miles)
- Pull off and park on the left side of the road.
- From the pull off where you parked follow the unmarked trail on the RIGHT (opposite-back towards KY-715N) side of the road. (0.1 miles)
- Turn right into the forest at a campsite on a trail that quickly disappears into thorns. You are heading out the first ridge on the right from the beginning of the hike.
- Follow the ridge around (it makes a big L, bending to your left) until it ends on top of a narrow rock area. You are on top of Friendship Arch and Friendship Tube. (0.4 miles)
- To get below Friendship Arch, go to the end of the ridge (100 feet) and scramble down a water runoff on your left side. You will first come to Friendship Tube.
- You will need to scramble down the same water runoff a little more, and then make your way along the edge of the rock face backtracking about 100 feet to arrive below Friendship Arch. Be careful as you scramble down these runoffs and along the rock faces as it would be easy to fall and get injured or killed.
- Return to parking area on the unmarked trails via the campsite (0.5 miles)
BONUS: You will have passed by Cat’s Paw arch coming here (just a short distance to the south.) The main attraction is Friendship Arch, but if you have the time you might want to visit Cat’s Paw arch either coming or going. Cat’s Paw is a pillar arch, it is just below a cliff line.GPS Coordinates of start of hike to Friendship Arch 37, 48′ 52.2 N 83, 36′ 34.2 W GPS Coordinates of campsite 37, 48′ 54.4 N 83, 36′ 29.9 W GPS Coordinates of Waypoint 37, 48′ 51.4 N 83, 36′ 20.7 W