Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
700.00 ft (213.36 m)
Trail type
5.40 mi (8.69 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Gray's Arch is one of the most impressive geological features in the Red River Gorge Geological Area. Thousands of people flock to Gray's Arch to see the 50-foot-tall and 80-foot-wide rock formation. There are multiple ways to see this arch: One route for viewing the arch is an out-and-back hike.  This is an extremely popular route because Gray's Arch merely 1.2 miles away from the trailhead. However, the route covered in this description is the loop hike that is formed between the Gray's Arch Trail, Rough Trail, and Pinch-Em-Tight Trail.

The trail starts at the Gray's Arch Trailhead. Due to the popularity of the trail, expect the parking lot to be very crowded during peak seasons. It is best to start this trail in the early morning to get a parking spot. There is a fork in the trail approximately 0.25 miles into the hike. The spur trail to Gray's Arch is found along the right fork in the trail (the arch is 0.75 miles away from the fork), and the route for the loop to the Rough Trail is taken via the left fork in the trail. A seasonal 50-foot waterfall forms at the top of the bluffs that are located to the right of Gray's Arch. The waterfall appears most frequently during the spring and after heavy rainfall.

The Rough Trail extends for approximately 2.75 miles and is the most difficult section of trail. The elevation fluctuates and takes hikers from the top of the cliffs down into the bottom of the gorge and back up to the top of the cliffs. The bottom of the gorge contains a vast diversity of vegetation including varied species of ferns and mushrooms. The thick forest canopy provides for cool shade along this section of trail. There are designated spots for backpacking along this trail as well. However, a permit is required and can be purchased for $3 at local gas stations and designated visitor centers.

Hikers will reach a trail junction after hiking on the Rough Trail for 2.75 miles. At this point, hikers should continue right at the junction along the Pinch-Em-Tight Trail, which will ultimately them back to the Gray's Arch Trailhead. This section of trail is relatively flat and luxurious. Keep an eye out for deer and wildlife on this section of trail.

Overall, Gray's Arch is an incredibly impressive landmark, and the loop is a beautiful hike with fascinating geology, incredible views of the gorge, and interesting plant vegetation. Hiking to Gray's Arch is worthwhile on any visit to the Red River Gorge.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Beautiful arch. Bluff formations. Low crowds.



Trailhead Elevation

1,270.00 ft (387.10 m)

Highest point

1,670.00 ft (509.02 m)


Historically significant
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Kentucky


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