March 31st: On our way back from Georgia, we decided to stop in Kentucky and check out Red River Gorge, a rugged park and natural area east of Lexington we had heard much about since our move to Cincinnati. This turned out to be an awesome side trip and a special adventure for Jason and the whole family.
The gorge is indeed very rugged, with steep mountains everywhere that have been slowly eroded into imposing cliff faces. Many of these have further eroded into “arches”, where the sandstone below a hard granite capstone rock is worn away to cause underlying indentations. There are many wicked hiking trails, and this is awesome trail running country, as the Rugged Red Half Marathon held here in mid-September attests to (4000 feet of climb in only 13 miles!).
However, hiking up to the signature Natural Bridge, the highlight of the park and a true natural arch that has eroded all the way through, was not in the cards for us. While there were several trails to view the arch, none of these were wheelchair accessible for Jason. We contemplated our strategy during lunch at Miguel’s Pizza and climbing shop, which is a can’t-be-missed restaurant with super awesome pizza and rice bowls. Finally, we decided to see if we could take the “tram” to the top. This turned out to be nothing more than a short and scarily steep chairlift straight up the side of the cliff and onto the top of the arch. However, the lift operators were incredibly friendly and helpful, and they offered to load Jason’s stroller onto a chair and take it off for us at the top. Jason got to sit with Mom and loved the ride, while the boys rode on ahead to set everything up at the top.
At the top, it was a real struggle getting Jason wheeled across a short but VERY bumpy trail to the top of the arch. But it was totally worth it, as you can see from the scenery in one of brother Ryan’s famous “trip clip” video travelogues at the summit. The bridge is 78 feet across and 65 feet high, but it seems much higher from the top. A very happy day!