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Sheltowee - Osborne Loop

Difficult
 3.8 (12) 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

  3.8 from 12 votes

#2531

Overall
  3.8 from 12 votes
5 Star
8%
4 Star
67%
3 Star
25%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#23

in Kentucky

#2,531

Overall
350 Views Last Month
7,011 Since Oct 14, 2017
Difficult

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92%
8%

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


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Check-Ins

Jun 12, 2020
Steve Kistler
Feb 15, 2020
Colin Runnion
Dec 6, 2019
Will H
Nov 6, 2019
Brent Boden
19.8mi
Oct 24, 2019
Paul Lacher
Oct 18, 2019
Kenneth Carrier
19.8mi
May 27, 2019
Kaitlyn Sommer
crowded on memorial day, red River seems fun, sights unimpressive 16.8mi
May 24, 2019
Michael Mox
Memorial Day Weekend 2019 - CROWDED!