Frequent visitors of the Red River Gorge will tell you that some of the best trails in the region are unofficial trails. Anyone who is truly interested in hiking the gorge must buy Jerrell Goodpaster’s Hinterlands book. It has long been considered the Red River Gorge hiking bible and without a doubt, it your best bet for finding Hanson’s Point and other great features.
We parked in the Gray’s Arch parking area and backtracked up Tunnel Ridge Road to the Pinch-Em-Tight trailhead. In this section the trail follows the 319 mile Sheltowee trace along the ridge. We were lucky to see a few Golden-crowned Kinglets and British soldiers (the lichen, not the foreign military).
Stick to the left at the Buck Trail intersection and again to pick up the Rough Trail. I would say it is less than 100 yards on the Rough Trail where the unofficial spur trail branches to the right. Just as the Rough Trail veers to the left and starts to descend, look for a vague footpath on the right. This will take you into a dense thicket of young trees. The path is narrow and low, but always very obvious with the exception of the two campsites you traverse. At the first, you can continue straight ahead, but stay to the right at the second.
Here the ridge narrows to the exposed “Hanson’s Point” and a breath-taking 360 degree view.
This is a great spot for a snack and break before heading back to the main route.
The Rough Trail is so named for its continual steep climbs and descents across the ridges of the Gorge. This section is a great example and quickly falls to a stream-bed.
From there, the trail goes up, up, up, ending in a climb through a magnificent slot canyon. Be sure to watch for signposts as the trail winds among the cliffs.
The final adventure of this trail is a hand over fist climb up a rock. It is not particularly dangerous, but can be challenging and a lot of fun.
The final stretch of trail follows the Rush Ridge Trail, allowing for great views.