Login with Facebook
 ADVANCED
Kentucky
Select Area...
BSF (placeholder) 
Knobs Forest Knobs 
Red River Gorge 
Stonecrest 
Western Kentucky 

Kentucky  


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 37.5794, -85.0781 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 2,848,056
Administrators: saxfiend, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Andy Laakmann on Oct 4, 2006
You & This Area
Best routes for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [1 person likes this page.]
Enjoying the fun, juggy climbing on Toker. October...

Description 

Sandstone...

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.


Getting There 

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



Weather station 7.7 miles from here

1,303 Total Routes

['4 Stars',190],['3 Stars',564],['2 Stars',409],['1 Star',108],['Bomb',7]
['<=5.6',93],['5.7',79],['5.8',104],['5.9',126],['5.10',292],['5.11',298],['5.12',211],['5.13',54],['>=5.14',5],['',0],['<=V1',17],['V2-3',16],['V4-5',7],['V6-7',1],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Kentucky:
Roadside Attraction   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Red River Gorge : Graining Fork Nature Preser...
27 Years of Climbing   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 65'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : The Gallery
Autumn   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Red River Gorge : Long Wall
Send Me on My Way   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Muir Valley : Bruise Brothers Wall
Creature Feature   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Red River Gorge : Phantasia
Plate Tectonics   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 70'   Muir Valley : Tectonic Wall
To Defy The Laws Of Tradition   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Red River Gorge : Left Flank
Rock Wars   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 120'   Red River Gorge : Long Wall
Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 60'   Muir Valley : Tectonic Wall
A Brief History of Climb   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 100'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : The Gallery
Breakfast Burrito   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Whip-Stocking   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Air Ride Equipped   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Muir Valley : The Solarium
Fuzzy Undercling   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Red River Gorge : Military Wall
Amarillo Sunset   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 50'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : North 40
Banshee   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Muir Valley : The Solarium
Twinkie   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Red River Gorge : Phantasia
Ro Shampo   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Red River Gorge : Graining Fork Nature Preser...
BOHICA   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 100'   Red River Gorge : The Motherlode
Kaleidescope   5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Browse More Classics in Kentucky

Featured Route For Kentucky
Jakob on Creature Feature... climbing the awsome j...

Creature Feature 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a  KY : Red River Gorge : Phantasia
A "hero" climb with one cool steep move and a lot of huge holds.Get up to the ledge at the base of the route, just below the big roof and clip a bolt. Lean out over the roof to some big holds and ape your way onto those. You can practically campus the route from there, but heel-hooks look cooler. Clip a bolt above the roof and pull up to stand on the less-than-vertical face. Continue up on plates and puzzle pieces to a set of anchors and lower off. Or continue on plates and edges to the top of ...[more]   Browse More Classics in KY

Comments on Kentucky Add Comment
Show which comments
By Aaron1
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.

-Aaron
Beyond the Guidebook:
The Definitive Climbing Resource
Inspiration & Motivation
to Fuel Your Run
Next Generation Mountain
Bike Trail Maps
Backcountry, Sidecountry
& Secret Stashes
Better Data. Better Tools.
Better Hikes!