Auxier Ridge Trail, Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Auxier Ridge Trail #204 in the beautiful Red River Gorge Geological Area of Kentucky is an unforgettable hike featuring narrow exposed ridges overlooking sweeping Appalachian vistas of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Auxier Ridge Trail Interactive Map

HIKING ILLUSTRATED

 

 

Sometimes words fail to accurately describe a place, so we’ll just let the pictures do most of the talking.

Dense fog pools in the Red River Gorge valley among fall foliage and frost-covered trees seen from Auxier Ridge Trail.
Early morning sunlight reveals frost on tree tops and heavy fog that settled overnight in the beautiful Red River Gorge.⁣

Beginning the trail at daybreak may reward early risers with lakes of dense fog pooled on the valley floor.

Woman hiker overlooking fall foliage and pockets of fog in the Red River Gorge seen from Auxier Ridge Trail.

The first two weekends in November are likely your best bet to see peak fall colors, although some say hiking in winter when the trees are bare offers the most spectacular views..

Haystack Rock along Auxier Ridge Trail in Red River Gorge.
Haystack Rock.

As with most popular destinations, get to the trailhead early as parking is limited and fills up quickly. Think sunrise as opposed to mid-day.

Woman hiker on Auxier Ridge Trail in wooded scene overlooking Appalachian vistas in the Daniel Boone National Forest in the Red River Gorge Geological Area of Kentucky.

At about one mile in, the trail makes a 90-degree turn to the right (east), but another trail continues due north (see exclamation point marker on interactive map).

 

This section can be confusing as both trails look well-defined. Instinct may tell you to continue straight ahead, but the correct way is east. Pay close attention to trail blazes on the trees.

View the heatmap overlay on the interactive trail map to better understand this somewhat confusing trail offshoot, or else you may end up backtracking (like us).

Woman hiker on cliff edge of Auxier Ridge Trail overlooking the trees on the valley floor of Red River Gorge in Kentucky.
Views for days.

With about a quarter mile before the northernmost portion of the trail, Auxier Ridge narrows to cliff views on both sides known as the Wizard’s Backbone — perhaps the most striking feature on this hike (see main image at the top of this post).

Three hikers facing the sun with arms outstretched above their heads.
Hiking is better with friends!

At the far north terminus to Auxier Ridge Trail is stoic Courthouse Rock. Everyone in the town of Slade will tell you that you can climb this beast, but this isn’t an effort suitable for the casual hiker. Leave that to the legit climbers.

Large bluff known as Courthouse Rock surrounded by the wooded Red River Gorge in Kentucky.
Courthouse Rock.

From here, you may take the steps built by the Forest Service down to Courthouse Rock Trail and loop back, or simply go back the same way you came. Although it looks like a shortcut, Courthouse Rock Trail actually adds about a mile to the return trip, so choose your route accordingly.

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4 Replies to “Auxier Ridge Trail, Red River Gorge, Kentucky”

  1. I have to admit – I never realized Kentucky had such beautiful hikes and views! I may need to add it to my never-ending list of hiking places lol you guys freaking killed it with that interactive map and the heat overlay. So awesome!! And those photos….wow!! 👏

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