Rough Trail #221

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Grays Arch Landslide Map

5/10/2021: Grays Arch Trail has suffered a landslide from heavy precipitation. The trail has been closed for visitor safety, leaving the arch inaccessible. Crews will be working over the next few weeks to re-bench and open the trail. Visitors are asked to refrain from visiting Grays Arch until this work is completed. Rough Trail can still be accessed from the Grays Arch Trailhead.

Rough Trail #221 extends through the Red River Gorge between KY 77 and KY 715, traversing the Gorge from west to east.

This challenging trail climbs from streamside to ridge-top and back down again several times. Use care when crossing streams after heavy rains. The trail  At the east end the Swift Camp Creek Trail #219 continues into Clifty Wilderness for almost another 7 miles making for a long trail outing of nearly 15 miles one way.

Rough Trail begins on the western end at Martins Fork Trailhead. From the trailhead hike back toward Nada Tunnel and cross the road at a footbridge. The first section climbs up Martins Fork and abuts Grays Arch Trail #205.

From the intersection with Grays Arch Trail, it continues on toward Grays Arch itself through its second section, first continuing out a broad, flat ridge before dropping down a newly cut section of trail and then some steep stairs. At the bottom of the stairs go a few yards to the right for a view of Grays Arch before turning around and continuing east on Rough Trail. The trail continues down into the deep valley and immediately begins climbing up to Rush Ridge. The second section ends when the trail levels out on top.

The third section immediately drops steeply over a rock step from the crest of the ridge and then passes under an overhanging section of cliff and then into a narrow slot canyon for a short distance before coming out on a steep slope that drops down to Rush Branch. Again, Rough Trail begins climbing steeply as soon as it hits bottom. The third section ends with the third climb along the trail as Rough Trail intersects the Sheltowee Trace on Pinch-Em-Tight Ridge.

Once on top of the ridge, Rough Trail runs with the Sheltowee Trace straight out the ridge for about a mile before beginning another descent. In the valley, the trail crosses the creek in severl times before splitting. The Sheltowee heads north and Rough continues east, crossing the creek several more times. Then there is a steep climb out of Chimney Top Creek to Chimney Top Road.

At the beginning of the fifth section is another respite before the descent into Parch Corn Creek. There is one more big climb before the end at KY 715.

Trailheads: Martins Fork Parking Area on KY 77 and Rough Trail/Swift Camp Creek Trail parking area on KY 715.

Avenza Digital Maps

A Red River Gorge digital map is available from the Avenza Maps online map store.

At a Glance

Fees No fee for trail use.
Permit Info: A Special Use Permit is required for commercial activities (for example: fishing tournaments, boat rentals, trail rides, outfitter guides, races, etc). A permit is also required for all noncommercial group uses involving more than 75 people.
Open Season: Open all year
Restrictions: This trail is developed for hiking only. 
  • Alcohol use prohibited: Consumption of alcohol is prohibited on national forest land and Kentucky lakes and waterways. KRS 222.202; (Order DB-02-15)
  • Parking is restricted to paved pull-offs marked with large "P" signs, along KY 715 and KY 77. (Order DB-02-15)
  • No camping in rock shelters. Camping and campfires are prohibited within 100 feet from the base of any cliff or rock shelter. (Order DB-02-15)
  • Graffiti is prohibited. Do not chisel, carve or spray paint. Damaging, altering or defacing any archaeological resource or natural feature is prohibited under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and 36 CFR 296.4 and 261.9.
  • Food Storage Restrictions are in effect to reduce odors that attract bears. In the backcountry, hang food and garbage at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from any tree or post used for suspension. (Order DB-02-15)
  • Campfire must be DEAD OUT before leaving. You will be held liable for suppression costs if your campfire starts a wildfire.
  • No camping within 300 feet of any developed road, trail or Tunnel Ridge Road and its associated parking lots; no camping within 600 feet of Grays Arch. (Order 12-02-15)
  • No climbing or rappelling within 300 feet of Sky Bridge, Grays Arch, Nada Tunnel, or Chimney Top Rock overlooks. (Order 12-03-15)
  • Prohibited: Possessing or operating a motor vehicle on roads, trails and areas not designated for that purpose on Motorized Vehicle Use Maps. 36 CFR 261.13.
  • Shortcutting a switchback on trails is prohibited. (Order DB-08-15)
  • Clifty Wilderness: The following are prohibited: motorized or mechanized equipment, possessing or using a wagon, cart, bicycle or other vehicle, and entering or being in a designated Wilderness as part of a group of more than ten people. (Order DB-05-15)
Closest Towns: Slade, KY
Passes: No fee for trail use. All vehicles on KY 15 or in the Red River Gorge and Indian Creek area north of KY 15 must display a recreation permit for backcountry camping between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. $3/day; $5/3 days; $30/annual pass.
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service
Information Center: Gladie Visitor Center
3451 Sky Bridge Road
Stanton, KY 40380

General Information


Parking is available at the trailhead on KY 77 and Rough Trail/Swift Camp Creek trail parking area on KY 715.


East end of Rough Trail
From Slade, travel east on KY 15 for 7 miles and turn left onto KY 715. Continue 4.1 miles to the Rough Trail/Swift Camp Creek Trail parking area on the left.

From Pine Ridge, take exit 40 off the Mountain Parkway and head west on KY 15. Turn right onto KY 715; continue 4.1 miles to the Swift Camp Creek/Rough Trail parking area on the left. Rough Trail begins from the parking area.

West end of Rough Trail
From Slade, travel west on KY 11/15. After about 1.5 miles, turn right onto KY 77. Follow 77 through Nada Tunnel. The Martin’s Fork parking area is on the left.


This trail does not meet accessibility standards for persons with disabilities.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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