A climber working up Banshee. May 2013.
From a climbing standpoint, you can define the Bluegrass state with that one word.
From Morehead, through the Red River Gorge and the Rockcastle River watershed on down into Tennessee via the Big South Fork (of the Cumberland River) out to the coalfields of Western Kentucky, the dominant exposed rock is sandstone.
By far, the best quality rock overall is in the Red River Gorge. That's not to say that the rest of the state is choss, just that the greatest concentration of quality developed climbing happens to be there.
If you're not climbing sandstone in Kentucky you need your head examined. There really isn't anything else to climb except some unconsolidated limestone. The geology of Kentucky could almost be called boring. But it really isn't.
The Eastern end of the state is all Cumberland Plaeteau. What most people, locals and visitors alike, call "mountains" are actually the topmost edge of a vast plateau. The exposed cliffs and valleys are a result of aeons of erosion down into that plateau. If you don't believe me look at the horizons. Flat. There are no peaks, no high chains of summits dividing the landscape. Oh, there's local relief, but the scale is small.
The scenery is distincly different from that of the Blue Ridge, the Smokies and other chains along the Appalachians. Different in relief, but similar in ecology and climate.
Western Kentucky is unique in it's own way. It's the same general type of rock, but different consistencies and arrangements.
Most climbing in the state is easily accessible from major highways. I-75 funnels most visitors to the Mountain Parkway and then on to the Red River Gorge.
The Big South Fork is a little further off 75 and parallels it at a distance.
Western Kentucky access varies, but doesn't suffer as much from the crazy gravel backroads of the Eastern end of the state.
Climbing Season For the All Locations area.
Weather station 7.7 miles from here
1,493 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',213],['3 Stars',643],['2 Stars',458],['1 Star',142],['Bomb',5]
Classic Climbing Routes in Kentucky
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Kentucky
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Kentucky:
Featured Route For Kentucky
Grippy Green 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a KY
: Red River Gorge
: ... : The Dark Side
This is the "slabby" route that everybody looks at on their way to the steep routes at the Dark Side. However, few people stop to sample the intricate moves, interesting holds, and easy but spicy finish.Follow a pretty, left arching flake past two bolts to a shake below the first crux. Small seams, and crimps gain a rail which leads right and up to a hueco with good holds in the back. Easy edges and amazing chicken heads peter-out to small iron rock protrusions just below a horizontal break. ...[more] Browse More Classics in KY
Latest Regional Forum Messages
From: Piqua, OH
Jan 19, 2015
Hey. Need a TRAD partner. Inexperienced and looking to learn more! Always a good time at the RRG. Let me know if interested, thanks.