With no plans for the 2016 Labor Day weekend, Sarah and I (Mike) decided to go on an overnight trip in the Red River Gorge. We are both trail guides here at Hiking Red River Gorge and wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been recently. After a little back and forth debate, we settled on Hanson’s Point. Well, it was mainly Sarah’s idea. The following is a quick recap of our trip with some pictures of our adventure.
The last section of the trail to Hanson’s Point is unmarked. For this reason, we won’t be giving detailed directions to Hanson’s Point. Nor recommend anyone trying to travel this path unless you are skilled in backcountry navigation and/or have a guide along with you.
We packed up our packs with a few overnight essentials and headed to Red River Gorge Saturday evening. Arriving at a trail head parking around 5:00PM, we quickly jumped out of the car, strapped on our packs and headed towards the Sheltowee Trace Trail to being our adventure.
Starting out on the Sheltowee Trace Trail is an awesome way to begin any adventure. Don’t you agree? For those that aren’t familiar, the Sheltowee Trace Trail is a 323 mile trail that was created in 1979. It stretches from Tennessee to northern Kentucky while cutting through the Red River Gorge. The trail is named after Daniel Boone, who was given the name Sheltowee (meaning “Big Turtle”) when he was adopted as the son of Chief Blackfish.
Traveling down the Sheltowee Trace Trail always makes me think about the thousands of other hikers that have done the same. Our trail guide, Bernard, thru hiked the entire Sheltowee Trace Trail not too long ago. He tackled it alone, with the support of his family, and loved every minute of it. Sarah and I continued down the trail until we reached Signature Rock. We snapped a few pictures of the rock and retraced our steps to our turn off. So far we had only seen a few hikers and a couple with 2 dogs camping.
Reaching the last leg of our hiking, we veered off the trail onto a well hidden unmarked trail. The first stretch was very overgrown and winds through the dense foliage before opening up at the first campsite. This campsite is perfect for larger groups that want to spread out and not be bothered by fellow hikers traveling along the unmarked trail. Nobody was camping, so we ventured around to see what we could find. A large mushroom caught my eye and I had to take a picture of it. It was about the size of a softball and in the middle of the camp site.
Back to the trail we went and continued around the ridgeline. Passing through more brush, thorns and over fallen trees our adventure continued. As it was later in the evening, we did pass a number of hikers leaving the area as we were hiking in. Greeting them with a smile, and a brief hello, we continued on. Well, until we were stopped in our tracks by a large hornet nest in the middle of the trail about a foot over our heads. Yeah, we are short. Bolting past the nest, we emerged unscathed. VICTORY! Maybe it wasn’t such a triumph battle/victory but it sure did get our hearts to pumping.
Right before reaching Hanson’s Point we found two great trees to hang our ENO hammocks from. Making sure not to bother any of the young trees growing, we set up our campsite with as small of footprint as possible. The view was amazing! From our hammocks we could see the edge of Hanson’s Point, Chimney Rock, Half Moon Rock and the valley below.
Walking a few feet on out to Hanson’s Point, Sarah and I found a cozy place to watch the sunset. Nothing short of breathtaking, we stayed until the sun fully set. Now in the dark we slowly walked a few feet back to our hammocks to retire for the night. The stars were out in full force and soon I was fast asleep.
The night was a little chilly and somehow Sarah ended up in the hammock with me. Not sure if she was after my hammock, my sleeping bag, my body heat or all of the above. Needless to say I didn’t mind as the DoubleNest ENO is plenty big enough for us both.
Daylight slowly started creeping in on us. The sun hadn’t fully popped over the tree line yet but was not too far from it. Fog blanketed the valley below us and the morning was starting to warm up. Still half asleep we scurried back out to Hanson’s Point to await the morning sun. The sunrise was even more impressive than the sunset the night before. Sarah and I both sat motionless, not making a sound, watching the sun slowly rise into view. Breathtaking! Looking at each other with smiles on our face like kids on Christmas morning we knew we got just what we came for.
A few more moments passed and we reluctantly decided to be on our way. Heading back to camp, we quickly took down our hammocks and loaded our packs. A quick gulp of water and we were on our way. Backtracking our steps from the night before, Sarah and I journeyed back to the trailhead. Once again passing by the dreaded hornet’s nest and wandering through the dense brush. With a sense of accomplishment in the air we hiked together, sharing laughter, until we reached our car.
What a way to spend a Labor Day weekend! Want to go on an adventure with us? Take a look at some of our other favorite hikes in Red River Gorge. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to get outside. Contact us for more information on our day hikes and overnight experience in Red River Gorge.