Having hiked a large portion of the marked trails in Red River Gorge to view some of the most spectacular natural landmarks in the park, I often curiously wonder about some of the secret trails within the gorge. Those familiar with the area know that the park is riddled with hidden trails leading to secret arches, waterfalls, and stone landmarks. With a little research and basic orienteering skills, even the most novice hiker can experience the thrill of finding one of the many hidden sights within Red River Gorge.
Arch Of Triumph | 0.60 Mile Out & Back
Double Arch Trail Map | Daniel Boone National Forest
With that in mind comes a note of CAUTION: This is an unmarked trail, not registered on any official map of Red River Gorge Geological Area. This hike includes scrambling over exposed cliffs and rock ledges that have resulted in deaths and injuries. Do not venture out alone. Use common sense and do not attempt anything that would put yourself or others at risk. This is NOT meant to be an instructional article, but a recollection of my own journey. Some of these hikes are NOT suitable for small children Do your own research before going out and attempting this hike!
Arch of Triumph is one of the smallest of the hidden arches in Red River Gorge. This well hidden arch sits atop a narrow exposed ridge between Double Arch Trail and Auxier Ridge Trail. The well worn path leading to this hidden gem is regularly traveled and even passes by a commonly used camping spot in the area. Reaching it is quite easy, as the path is mostly flat and requires only a small scramble near the very end of the trail to reach the arch below.
I began my journey by parking in the roundabout lot adjacent to the Double Arch Trailhead, just before entering the Auxier Ridge lot. Following the old forest road that leads to Double Arch, I hiked approximately 0.15 miles until reaching a small unmarked trail heading to the right at an angle, just behind a downed tree. This is the start of the trail to Arch of Triumph.
The path is hard packed and well traveled making it easy to differentiate between some of the other user made trails. Make your way past a large campsite and pick the trail back up just behind the wide clearing. Several large downed trees block the path in a few areas, changing the direction of the trail. Eventually, you’ll run into the second campsite atop a solid sandstone clearing.
Crossing the campsite, a small trail leads through the brush as it maneuvers atop the ridge that forms into the arch. There are steep drops on both sides including a sheer cliff to the right. Just stick to the middle of the trail to avoid wandering off the cliff. Making my way under several downed trees hanging over the trail, I exited onto the top of a solid rock bridge.
This is the top of Arch of Triumph. Stay directly in the middle of the bridge as you make your way to the back of the arch. You’ll eventually be headed to the left of this area, but the safest way down is a little further ahead. To the right is a sheer cliff plunging a hundred feet to the ground.
A slip here could potentially be deadly, so use extreme caution. Once you reach the back of the arch, the path curves slightly to the left. Here, I was able to spot several ledges that resemble a narrow staircase leading down onto solid ground.
Parting my way through the brush, I followed the sandy trail about a dozen feet to the opening of this whimsical small arch. Its opening is narrow, but leads to a pretty spacious area just on the other side. Its not advisable for anyone to climb inside this arch as the floor has a steep pitch sliding towards a 100 foot plunge down a cliff. Use some common sense.
Retrace your steps back up the rear of the arch and over the bridge when heading back. From the start of veering onto this trail to the arch and back is approximately 0.60 miles, or a little over half a mile. Most people tend to add this to their trip to visit Double Arch or even to view another hidden arch in the area known as Star Gap Arch. Stay tuned for our next hike to find what some consider to be one of the most beautiful arches in Red River Gorge, Star Gap Arch. Until next time, see y’all on the trails!