Martin's Fork Trailhead - Red River Gorge
My in-laws were in town to play with the kids and the weather looked perfect, so I headed to the gorge for the day. The Tunnel Ridge Road is still closed after a couple wildfires, but only up to the Nada Tunnel.
I saw a post on kywilderness (http://www.kywilderness.com/forum/index.php?topic=7369.msg48655) about the "back door" from Martin's Fork. I had looked at the map on occasion and every time I looked across the valley from the other side, I thought that it looked like a bushwack along the ridge that parallels the Nada Tunnel Road would be possible. This trip report confirmed it.
I got to the Martin's Fork Trailhead around 10:30 on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. My car thermometer said 40 degrees. The sun was shining and the only potential issue was I was fighting a head cold which is arguably better than fighting a hangover
I followed the obvious user trail out of the parking lot and up towards the ridge. After one false start, I reached the top of the ridge after a bit of scrambling. Once at the top of the ridge, there was a somewhat obvious trail that had been flagged. This made the trail mostly easy to follow, there were probably 5 or 6 different color tapes, most very faded, but still noticeable/followable.
I hit TRR around 12:30 and headed towards Auxier Trailhead. It was very weird coming around the corner and not seeing any cars at all. It turns out that I really like the gorge without any people in it. I still ended up carrying garbage (I think mylar balloons should be illegal).
I headed out towards Courthouse Rock with the idea that I would loop back on Courthouse Rock trail. I ended up enjoying the views for so long that when I got to Courthouse Rock, I turned around and headed back. I had an easy trip back until after I had climbed down from the ridge and lost the trail, a little bit of bushwacking and I was back at the trailhead around 4, the thermometer said 48 degrees.
I liked this old burned tree on the ridge
Double Arch from across the valley
An amazing day, it felt like I had the whole gorge to my self.