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
1,644 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',230],['3 Stars',712],['2 Stars',514],['1 Star',144],['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
Ruby Slippers 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Kentucky
: Red River Gorge
: Emerald City
Another great climb on Emerald City. A great circuit for this area is to access the ledge and do all 5 adjacent climbs without untying your shoes or rope.Just right of the obvious scoop at the bottom of Flying Monkeys lies another bolted line. Climb up the edge of the "dish" and head for anchors at the top. There may be no particular crux on this climb, but it is not without some hard moves. The holds are small, but mostly good. Wear your edging shoes!...[more] Browse More Classics in Kentucky
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.
By Rob Montgomery
From: Lexington, Ky
Oct 10, 2016
Hey Aaron, quite new (really new) to climbing but always up for new things. Shout my way sometime and we'll figure it out. Rob Montgomery~