SUMMARY: A difficult hike to Red Byrd Arch. This longer route to Red Byrd Arch ambles along a beautiful river on an unofficial trail that has many good locations for camping. This is the longer route to Red Byrd Arch requires a crossing of the river which at certain times of the year would not be the best choice. Red Byrd Arch is a spectacular site, and while it is labeled on official maps the lack of a trail make it a very secluded site. None of this route is on marked trails or official trails making it difficult. You will absolutely need a GPS and a compass and you will know how to use them. An alternative route via land only to Red Byrd Arch is available, but is not as spectacular.
RATING: Difficult day hike (approximately 4.0 miles total;) This hike uses unmarked trails and many people have trouble navigating the hike. A portion of this hike does NOT have any trail. 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 HIKE: Early spring when flowers are blooming or autumn when you can catch the fall colors. This hike is also nice in winter as it is easier to find the “trail” without all of the growth. 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 full day (6-8 hours) to enjoy this hike. The scenery is spectacular, the geology is interesting; and, the arch is a perfect place to have lunch and explore. Pack a lunch and enjoy the adventure!
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. (6.3 miles)
- Park in well marked parking area on right side of road just after crossing the concrete bridge.
- From the parking area follow the unmarked trail to the right of the marked trail. You will be parking parallel to the river (between the river and the trail on your left) heading up stream. You will pass by moonshiner’s Arch on your left just off the trail. There is a great deal of good camping along this unmarked trail. (1.2 miles)
- At the confluence of the rivers cross the river you have been walking along and leave the unmarked trail and make your way via GPS to Red Byrd Arch. (0.8 miles)
- Enjoy Red Byrd Arch.
- Return to the unmarked trail, and cross the river. (0.8 miles)
- Follow the unmarked trail back down stream to the concrete bridge and the parking area. (1.2 miles)
GPS Coordinates of Confluence of Rivers
37, 49′ 15.7 N
83, 33′ 20.9 W
GPS Coordinates of Red Byrd Arch
37, 48′ 54.9 N
83, 33′ 2.0 W