Hike the Indian Staircase Loop and Cloudsplitter

Red River Gorge - Search Nearby - Added by Jen Kachinski

The hike to Indian Staircase and then to Cloudsplitter is quite the adventure! Climb a staircase allegedly etched into stone by Native Americans years ago.If that's not enough, keep going and make your way to Cloudsplitter for a real thrill! Cloudsplitter is a definite adventure. You also backcountry camp in many areas along the trails as we did. We camped on the top of Indian Staircase and wow, did we have a view for the sunrise and set!

Starting at the Bison Way Trailhead #210. You'll take this until you come to the intersection of the Sheltowee Trace Trail #100. Go left. You're going to turn right on the unmarked trail just past the sign that says stay on trail. This is quite the incline. Keeping going until you get to the base of Indian Staircase. Make sure to use extreme caution in climbing this! You'll be able to see the etched stairs to go up. After the scramble up to the ridgeline, you'll see a magnificent overlook. You can follow the trail about another 6 miles or so to Cloudsplitter. This is going to intersect again with the Sheltowee Trace Trail. You'll know for sure by the white diamond markings on the trees. You'll eventually come to a giant carin on your right with a marked tree. Follow that up until you get to the base of Cloudsplitter. You'll see a couple ropes to use to climb up. You can also opt to climb up the side instead. Again, use caution. The is also a small cave that you can venture through leading to the "window". The views are awesome from the top! To get back to the Bison Way Trailhead, you'll have to continue following Sheltowee Trace Trail to the road and walk back to Bison Way. We recognized some hikers and hitched a ride back. This ends up being about a 10 mile hike so be prepared!

Be sure to reward yourself with pizza at the famous Miguel's pizza!!

If backcountry camping, be sure to stop at the Shell Station or the Gladie learning center to get a permit.

Distance

10 Miles RT

Type

Loop

Activities

Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Nearby Lodging

Renfro Valley KOA

Mount Vernon, Kentucky

Corbin / Laurel Lake KOA

Corbin, Kentucky

Ashland / Huntington West KOA

Ashland, Kentucky

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Hike it don’t take the lift!

Hike the trail it is a memorable and unique hike.

Awesome!

The climb up Indian staircase is fun and challenging and the views are fantastic. Definitely one of my favorite hikes at the gorge. I'm going to upload an adventure soon for another one of my favorite spots!

Favorite Trail

Love this place

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