The Red River Gorge in Kentucky is a 5-hour drive from my Middle Tennessee home. The Gorge is beautiful, and it is well worth the drive.
An October Trip for Fall Color
On Wednesday, October 21st, 2020, Scott Rosenberger and I met at the Shell Station at Exit 33 on Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway in Kentucky. The Shell Station sells permits for overnight parking in Red River Gorge in Daniel Boone National Forest. At around 11:00 a.m., we headed to Gray's Arch Recreation Parking Area.
We dropped off my car and drove Scott's car to the Auxier Ridge Trailhead. From there, we hiked about two miles to Courthouse Rock. The late October weather was perfect. It was sunny and warm with a high of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. We met a lot of people along the way. Several had children and dogs with them. There are many wonderful views along Auxier Ridge Trail. The leaves were at peak fall color.
Red River Gorge Cliffs
A Friendly Snake
Stars and Meteors
After Courthouse Rock, we drove back to Grays Arch Parking Lot. From Tunnel Ridge Road, we hiked along Pinch-Em-Tight Trail to Rush Ridge Trail. We turned onto Rough Trail and then took an unmarked trail over to a bluff with an excellent view of the gorge. We set up our tents just a few hundred yards from the bluff because someone was camping on the bluff.
After we cooked our evening meal, when it got dark, we walked over to the very end of the bluff. The Orionid meteor shower was at its peak as we watched the night sky. At around midnight, we saw several meteors. The stars were bright, but some of the meteors were brighter than any of the stars. I had expected to see the meteors all heading in the same direction, but not so. The meteors came from everywhere and were heading in different directions. It reminded me of when the Enterprise from Star Trek went into Warp Drive. We were there about 1 1/2 hours and saw more than 20 meteors as they streaked across the sky.
The next morning, I had coffee, but no breakfast. I was too full from the Backpacker's Pantry Lasagna the night before. We hiked over to Grays Arch. We saw a few people who were lost and helped them find the trail they wanted. I was surprised at how many families had young children. One family had three young children and were heading down a steep section of the trail toward Grays Arch. I wondered if they were going to have to carry the youngest who was only about 4 years old back up that trail.
Another Evening of Stargazing
After we reached the car, we drove into Slade Kentucky and had lunch at La Cabaña Mexican Restaurant. The restaurant had a large outside dining area. Because of COVID-19, customers wore masks until they were seated. All of the staff wore masks.
After a very nice meal, we drove back to Grays Arch Parking and hiked back to the bluff. No one was camping on the bluff, so we set up our tents out there. We took our air mattress pads and our sleeping bags with us to the end of the bluff so we could lie back and view the stars and meteor shower. We only saw a few meteors, and once the fog rolled in and our sleeping bags began to get damp from dew, we walked back to our tents and called it a night.
I got up before daylight and made my coffee.
A Pesky Hornet
I had my headlamp on, and a huge hornet kept darting at my face. I'm not a fan of bees and hornets, and this one was so big that it looked like a 'murder hornet.' I switched my headlamp to red light hoping that the hornet would go away. The hornet flew against the side of my tent and fell dazed to the ground. A few seconds later, it flew away and didn't come back. Thank goodness!
Camping in the October Trees
Great Weather, Great Hike, Great to be Home
At around 7:30 a.m. Eastern time, we hiked back to our cars and headed home.
The late October weather had been as good as we could have asked for. Daytime highs in the low 80s, and nighttime lows in the 50s. The low lying-towns had lows in the 60s, but out on the bluffs and ridges the temps dropped into the 50s. I was glad that I had brought my 0-degree rated sleeping bag. It kept me plenty warm. I have a 45-degree rated down sleeping bag, but when I have used that bag in temperatures in the low 50s I was cold all night long.
I arrived home by 1:00 p.m. Central time. It was a wonderful trip, but it is always great to get back home. My wife, Linda, had my lunch ready. I had chili, chips, Parmesan cheese, and some greens. It was all so very good.
Another great hike in the books. I am so grateful to be able to experience the beauty of nature. Thank you, Father for it all!
Grays Arch Recreational Area
© 2020 Ron Grimes
Ron Grimes (author) from Tennessee on October 27, 2020:
Thank you, Tom Cornett! You are right. Eastern Kentucky is absolutely beautiful. It is a gift.
Tom Cornett from Ohio on October 27, 2020:
Great Hub Ron. Beautiful pics and video. It has been ages since I've been through Eastern KY. It is one of the most wonderful places on Earth.