This wall has long been noted for having the "best" concentration of offwidths in the Red River Gorge. For some people using the words "best" and "offwidth" in the same sentence inspires chuckles or even desperate laughter. But for others the warm fuzzy feeling begin and they shrug on ragged clothing and head for the crag.
Characterized by colorful, abrasive rock Muscle Beach is a tall imposing band of sandstone. There are just enough non-offwidths to interest the masses, but don't expect to hike up to this wall and find a partner. The crowds usually stay away.
Follow 9b to an overused camping area on the right side of the road. You'll see a low concrete ford blocked by a gate. Park here.
Hike across the creek and make a hard right turn on the opposite bank. Follow the trail south for a few minutes and then bear left as the trail bend into an open area.
Look for an old logging road/trail to the left in the middle of the field. Follow this up and back to the northeast, pass the first road on the right and take the second one, trending back to the southeast. When the road tees either bushwhack straight up to the wall near Close Encounters for the main wall or take the road left until it intersects with a ridge near some boulders for the bouldering area. The route Minas Ithil looms above.
The culverts (large water tubes) under the dam are blocked by sediment and debris. This means that water flows over the dam instead of through/under it. I imagine that on a hot summer day this stream crossing is refreshing, but at the beginning of December it was absolutely frigid and painful. On December 4th the water was about 3 inches deep and flowing at a moderate rate.
Besides the cold water itself, the concrete conducts a significant amount of heat away from your feet. On top of all of this, the concrete is slimy and slick, which means you must move slowly and carefully to avoid taking a spill.
I recommend bringing along stream crossing shoes/sandals/crocs/whatever if you intend to to head to Muscle Beach.
We also saw a sign over by the trash cans that mentioned several bridges and dams on FS 9b were going to be removed some time in 2012. This seemed to imply that this clogged dam would be one of those demolished, although it was not 100% clear.