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.
1,131 Total Routes
['4 Stars',173],['3 Stars',507],['2 Stars',334],['1 Star',98],['Bomb',6]
Browse More Classics in Kentucky
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Kentucky:
Featured Route For Kentucky
Manic Impression 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a KY
: Red River Gorge
: Funk Rock City
A little ways past Cruising Lane and RIte of Passage is a broad, tall well featured slab. This is the left of the two bolted routes. The crux is going for the anchors and requires jedi mind control and precision footwork. The route up to the crux is pretty casual at 5.7-8 or so. A must do if you're in the area. One of the best 5.10a sport routes in the RRG....[more] Browse More Classics in KY
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