Dog Friendly Hikes Red River Gorge Kentucky

by | Feb 28, 2024 | Hiking and Travel Tips

Want to bring your dog to the most famous rock climbing destination on the Eastern Side of the USA? Red River Gorge Kentucky is known for its rock climbing but also features a endless supply of dog friendly National Forest Hiking Trails. Come experience the hikes of Red River Gorge with us!

Hiking Swift Camp Creek with my dog in Red River Gorge Kentucky.
Swift Camp Creek Trail in Red River Gorge.

The rock climbing gets the hype in #RedRiverGorgeous. But the hiking trails, fun outdoorsy spots like Miguel’s Pizza, and an area surrounded by State Park and National Forest has PLENTY of hikes too. And they are almost all dog friendly! (Natural Bridge and Whittleton Arch are two that are NOT.)

Cotopaxi camping at Lago Linda Hideaway in Red River Gorge. There are great trails on the grounds for dogs to explore!
Fall Foliage in Red River Gorge.

First things first…

It’s a privilege to bring your dog hiking on public lands. Please leash them if the area requests it, clean up after them, and be attentive. And while we are at it…Leave No Trace and Pack Your 10 Essentials :)!
My dog Cotopaxi is a B.A.R.K. Ranger and if you choose to bring the best companions in the world on hiking trails please consider the same.

Now onto the fun stuff…

Four Dog Friendly Red River Gorge Hikes!
And two places to camp!

  1. Swift Camp Creek Trail, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky.
  2. Lago Linda Hideaway, Campground Hiking Trails, Beattyville, Kentucky.
  3. Rock Bridge Trail, Campton, Kentucky.
  4. Gray’s Arch Trail, Red River Gorge, Kentucky.
  5. Camping: Lago Linda Hideaway (See Above) and Miguel’s Pizza.

Red River Gorge Dog Friendly Hikes

Red River Gorge is located in Kentucky a few hours away from Lexington, Cincinnati, Columbus, Nashville, Knoxville and more. It’s also the 2nd or 3rd prime rock climbing location in the entire United States. (Probably only second to Yosemite National Park in California, maybe Joshua Tree in California as well.) It’s a mecca for climbers but its great location and funky vibe (for rural Kentucky) also makes it a great place for hiking, camping, and other forms of outdoor recreation.

My two favorite hikes to take the dog on are the Swift Camp Creek Trail and Rock Bridge.
The Swift Camp Creek Trail has multiple places to begin and end inside of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Rock Bridge has a trailhead that is nearby to Swift Camp Creek if you wanted to combine these two into an all day hiking adventure.
These two hikes to me are perfect for dogs. They are allowed to be on the trails and the terrain supports them.

The Sky Bridge Station is nearby for grub, though I have never eaten there. Primarily because I have only visited Red River Gorge heading into the offseason. So they have had limited hours.

Two other places to eat that are a little further from these Red River Gorge hikes are:

1. Hop’s. Great food, climbing spots nearby. Try the Butternut Squash Soup on a chilly fall day!

2. Miguel’s. The pizza is good and so is the basketball court. It’s a place to experience. It’s the “Camp Four of the East” and a destination for rock climbers from all over the world!

Both Hop’s and Miguel’s are dog friendly with spacious outdoor seating!

Rock Bridge is a great dog friendly hike in Red River Gorge Kentucky.
Rock Bridge Trail in #RedRiverGorgeous.

Red River Gorge Dog Friendly Camping

We loved staying with our dog Cotopaxi at Lago Linda in our camper van. (We had won it in a contest and did a road trip takeover for our friends Van Rental and Road Trip App at the time.)

The crowd and vibe is a bit calmer and older than Miguel’s. We stayed there with seasonal rock climbers and a group from Quebec who was spending a few months in Red River Gorge climbing.

The campground has TONS of space and miles and miles of actual hiking trails inside of it. We would mainly hike on the other trails in the morning, grab lunch, and come back to hike on the property in the afternoon. They have a restaurant on-site but it’s only open on the weekends during shoulder season.

Miguel’s has cheap dispersed camping and I loved staying there too. However with a dog and being older I would now lean towards Lago Linda. (While spending an afternoon at Miguel’s!)

Both places also have hostel/lodge options if you don’t want to camp!

Red River Gorge is an underrated hiking area and underrated dog friendly adventure spot.

The climbing chatter seems to take away this spot in Kentucky as a great outdoorsy place for things other than rock climbing. And yes the rock climbing is epic, I climb every time we go.

But the trails aren’t that busy, the terrain is perfect for dogs, it is accessible from several major cities, and there is some spectacular scenery. Plus all the places we tried to also go and visit (restaurants, campgrounds, etc) had super dog friendly options for us.

Red River Gorge Kentucky was in my backyard most of my life and it took me a long time to visit there. But once I finally did I have been back and consider it my favorite outdoor adventure destination in the Midwest/High South of the USA.

Go experience it for yourself!

Red River GORGEOUS awaits you and your pup!

Happy Trails to you and your Pups :).
Thanks for reading and supporting Happy People Hike, comment below with any questions about a dog friendly Red River Gorge Kentucky Adventure.

Happy Hiking,
Mike R

Mike Rudd

Mike Rudd

Nomad, Dood Dad, Planet Lover. Hashtag59 & Happy People Hike Lead Intern. Freelance Writer and Content Creator. Health and Wellness Curator.

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