Go Play Outside: Red River Gorge

Hiking and camping are two of my favorite outdoor activities and, in my opinion, fall is the best season for both.

If you live in Southern Ohio, both hiking and camping are available at multiple locations within just a few hours’ drive. This summer, our family took a quick three-day trip down to one of our favorite places in the region–the Red River Gorge. It’s technically a “geological area” with an impressive collection of canyons and natural arches located within the Daniel Boone National Forest. It’s only a 2.5 hour drive from Cincinnati, in Central Kentucky, which is the perfect distance to get outta town and go play outside.

On this trip, with our three kids in tow, we rented a cabin inside the Gorge (we used the rental company Red River Gorgeous), so we were only a short drive away from all of the trailheads. We also ended up with a cabin on a creek with bunk beds (!), which was the perfect place for the kids.

Campfire. Creek-dipping. Bunk beds. Perfect.

During our long day of hiking, we took a short hike up to Whistling Arch (which is where I almost had a mild heart attack watching my son climb in the arch with my husband). And then we hiked the 1.5 mile Rock Bridge loop. The kids got a little tired toward the end of the loop, but it was well worth the work and gave me a good idea of how resilient they would be on a longer-distance hike. (And gave me more experience carrying a 20lb baby on a descent/ascent.) We do a lot of rugged hiking locally, but new terrain is always good practice.

If you live in the area or feel like driving down to Kentucky for a new adventure, check out the Red River Gorge. Do it alone, or with kids, or with your favorite hiking buddy. Rent a cabin or bring a tent. (Backcountry camping will cost you a small overnight fee.) Bring a kayak for the river or your climbing gear for the canyons or your bicycle for the scenic roads. However you do it, find some time this fall to do it.

Go play outside!

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