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Sheltowee - Osborne Loop

Difficult
 3.9 (14) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This hike presents a pleasant loop through some of the classic trails in the Red River Gorge.


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Map Key

19.8

Miles

31.9

KM

Loop

1,274' 388 m

High

718' 219 m

Low

2,474' 754 m

Up

2,501' 762 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

32%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

On this hike, you'll cross many beautiful streams, utilize the Sheltowee Suspension Bridge over the Red River, and see a few arches as well. Indian Staircase and several other overlooks can be found along this route.

Description

You can anticipate sufficient water supply throughout the Rough Trail #221 and Sheltowee Trace. At the base of Lost Branch Trail #239, expect to leave the water behind as the trail increases in altitude through Osborne Bend Trail #240.

At Rough Trail #221 and Sheltowee, be sure to take Sheltowee Trace northbound and not to the southwest. Sheltowee Trace has the unique Turtle Blazes.

Once Sheltowee Trace meets the Red River, a wood and cable suspension bridge spans the river and flood bank.

The Sheltowee section between the river and Bison Way has some intermediate grade with beautiful payoff. The best camping seems to be before and after this section. Within this rise, you'll find a few arches and overlooks, as well as Indian Staircase.

The Sheltowee - Lost Branch junction forms at a beautiful streambed in a hollow. The east bank has space for camping with decent tree spacing and minimal undergrowth.

Lost Branch Trail #239 quickly climbs to meet Osborne Bend Trail #240. The northerly section of trail will take you to the concrete bridge parking lot on 715.

One can take 715 back up the hill to your parking space at the Rough Trail #221 parking lot.

(As a side note, you might consider doing this in reverse so that your trail doesn't end with hiking uphill on the road. I personally prefer this direction for the purpose of a gradually more interesting/unique environment.)

Flora & Fauna

Pine, oak, and sycamore stands scatter the trails. Thick fern beds grow in the hollows and wildflowers spread across the drier areas.

During the day, we saw jays, a red-tailed hawk, buzzards, and golden finches. The mossy areas host newts and red efts.

At night, we heard coyotes and hoot owls.

Contacts

Shared By:

Stephen Hornbeck with improvements by Kara Leann

Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 14 votes

#2444

Overall
  3.9 from 14 votes
5 Star
14%
4 Star
57%
3 Star
29%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#21

in Kentucky

#2,444

Overall
95 Views Last Month
9,079 Since Oct 14, 2017
Difficult

0%
0%
0%
14%
79%
7%

Photos

Chimney Top greets visitors from across the Sheltowee Trace on the Red River.
Jan 18, 2017 near Frenchburg, KY
Indian Arch poses for a dramatic photo along the Sheltowee Trace.
Jan 18, 2017 near Frenchburg, KY
Suspension bridge over the Red River.
Jan 18, 2017 near Frenchburg, KY
A large boulder rests beside the trail.
Jan 18, 2017 near Frenchburg, KY
Sheltowee Trace crosses Salt Fork Creek. Watch your step.
Jan 18, 2017 near Frenchburg, KY
Wolf tracks dot the snow on the Sheltowee Trace Trail.
Jan 18, 2017 near Frenchburg, KY

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Oct 19, 2020
Chris W
Take some side hikes to the top of the ridgeline especially in the area of Indian Staircase for some spectacular views.
Oct 3, 2020
Jim James
Wonderful white cliff 2.3mi — 1h 00m
Sep 19, 2020
Landon Kovach
21.5mi — 8h 20m
Aug 23, 2020
Glenn Estes
Run/Hike. Good mix of terrain. Awesome training loop. 20.6mi — 6h 11m
Jun 12, 2020
Steve Kistler
Feb 15, 2020
Colin Runnion
Dec 6, 2019
Will H
Nov 6, 2019
Brent Boden
19.8mi