Elevation: 1,113 ft
GPS: 37.874, -83.654 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Chris Chaney on Oct 4, 2006
Admins: saxfiend, Jason Halladay, Shirtless Mike
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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.

Getting There

Take 9b until you see semi-developed camping on the right. Then you'll see pit toilets on the left. Park across the road from the pit toilets.

Hike to the creek and cross on some placed boulders. Cross the creek then hike downstream bearing left toward the treeline near the end of the open area. Before reaching a small stream coming in from the left look for a faint trail on the left (duck under a fallen tree) and follow this trail through thick undergrowth.

The trail eventually meets up with an old overgrown logging road which goes up, then left, and then levels out. Pass the first road fork on the right and at the second intersection (in an open area) take the hard right up the hill. When it briefly levels out leave the road and bear right toward the main corner of the cliff where Close Encounters With a Wench is located, or switchback left to reach Minas Ithil and the bouldering area.

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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. Dec 9, 2011
Just went to Muscle Beach yesterday. There is a ton of New Development the renders the old directions completely useless. The dam is no longer there, neither is the parking area or the campsite on the inside left bend for Minas wall.
Now, for people who have never been there, you park 1.5 miles down the gravel road (it's closed for the season of 2015). Walk the gravel road until you get to a board/sign and some bear protected garbage containers. It should be rather obvious, as it's now a large piece of excavated land. Currently there's a wood sided porti poti on the right as well.

Essentially when you come up to the sign (which explains the creek restoration project) you can see the top of Muscle Beach straight ahead. Poking out with a bit of orange rock feature through the top of the trees. This is particularly evident if it's winter/fall.

Cross the creek, there are several rock hopping ways. We crossed almost directly behind the sign. Walk Straight across the field, almost bearing left a little, until you hit the tree line. Go straight uphill and pick the path of least resistance. You should after maybe 200 ft of uphill find what could be considered an "old road". It's clear it might have been a road, and not natural to the forest, but it's very very overgrown. Lot's of small trees and bushes and overgrowth. Don't expect an old tire track dirt road. But when you hit it, I think, it's obvious. Take the road left (otherwise North west ish). It will gradually wind up the hill, crossing many mounds. Eventually you'll be able to pick up a very very faint trail. Keep following the road/trail.
You'll make it to a spot where boulders start appearing. There will be four downed trees across the road (although there are many down trees on the road, these four are somewhat together, separated by no more than 25 ft in between them). You should be able to see the cliffline at this point. After the first downed tree, veer left up the bank and follow a very very faint trail up hill towards the cliff line. Keep mostly right and you should come up to the 5.9 crack. Nov 29, 2015
Chris Chaney
Stanton, Kentucky
Chris Chaney   Stanton, Kentucky
Other than the creek crossing the directions should still work. I'll check it out soon and revise if necessary. Dec 18, 2015
I'd probably just skip this crag in the summer unless you like ticks, posion ivy, and thorny bramble. The approach trail seemed non-existent. Jun 23, 2017