Fall Arch Hunting in The Red River Gorge

It’s finally time for another adventure! This time around I decided to get out into the Gorge to enjoy some of the fall colors and to hunt for some new to me arches.

Along the way, we take a look at Rockhouse Pillar Arch, Rockhouse Arch, Turtleback Arch, Pooch’s Turtle Falls, and a complete moonshine still.

Rockhouse Pillar & Rockhouse Arch

The primary goal of this trip was to check out two new-to-me arches: the Rockhouse Pillar and Rockhouse Arch. Both of these landforms were within a few feet of each other in a remote drainage of the Clifty Wilderness portion of the Red River Gorge. The rhododendron through here was thick and challenging to navigate through, but that wasn’t enough to stop me from reaching my destination!

An iPhone shot of Rockhouse Pillar Arch.
An iPhone shot of Rockhouse Pillar Arch.

Upon reaching the portion of the cliff line containing the arches, I was quick to spot the Rockhouse Pillar Arch. While this is a unique little pillar, it certainly wasn’t the main spectacle of the day!

iPhone shot of Rockhouse Arch.
iPhone shot of Rockhouse Arch.

Rockhouse Arch was just a few steps away from the pillar arch and was a lot more impressive than I had expected. Looking at this arch, it’s no mystery how it formed. You can clearly see that this was once a rock shelter whose roof collapsed, forming the arch. Unfortunately, the dynamic range in this scene is so extreme that getting a usable shot of this arch is nearly impossible. I’m not happy with the results I walked away with this day, so I may return sometime in the future to try again.

Turtleback Arch

After exiting the drainage containing the impressive Rockhouse Arch, I decided to go check out Turtleback Arch. Reaching this particular arch requires a few fun rock scrambles and the location isn’t necessarily obvious as you have to round the base of a shelf on the cliff line to find it. After a bit of searching, however, I was able to find it and spend some time photographing it.

Turtleback Arch.

It’s also worth noting since it can’t be seen in this particular shot, that Turtleback Arch is actually a double arch. This shot I got on my iPhone illustrates that nicely.

The Old Moonshine Still

Some fall color surrounding Swift Camp Creek.
Some fall color surrounding Swift Camp Creek.

I rounded off my day by visiting an old moonshine still site. This site, located in the back of a fenced-off rock shelter, dates back to the prohibition days. The area still contains the still, some old barrels, and even a few old moonshine jugs. The Forest Service has fenced off the rock shelter containing this site to help preserve it.

An old moonshine still in the Clifty Wilderness.
An old moonshine still in the Clifty Wilderness.

Just so it’s abundantly clear, I did not cross the fence to get this picture! I stuck my phone through a small gap in the fence. Please be sure to always respect these preserved sites!

After spending some time appreciating this unique spectacle of the Gorge I looped around and headed back to the car. All in all, this made for an excellent day hike!

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