I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t enjoy admiring the view from an epic overlook. There’s just something about being able to see across a vast landscape that leaves us awestruck.

The Red River Gorge region of the Daniel Boone National Forest has no shortage of hikes that will take you to some of the most epic overlooks in the state, but Chimney Rock is by far one of the easiest. This short, easy hike will take you to an overlook that’s hard to beat!

The Hike at a Glance

Difficulty: Easy
Length: About 0.5 miles (round-trip)
Hazards: Large Cliffs. See the note below about the deaths at this location.
Rating: 4/5
Landform: View on Kentucky Landforms
Photography: View on The Photographer’s Ephemeris

DANGER: As a general rule, this is an extremely easy, safe hike. The trail is almost entirely paved and the overlook itself has guard-rails around the cliff. Despite this, Chimney Rock holds the unfortunate title of having the most fatalities of anywhere in the Red River Gorge. This is the result of people climbing over the guardrails to get to the very end of the rock outcropping. This is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted. A great many people have lost their lives as a result of falling doing this very activity. Please don’t add to the statistics!

Getting There

The Milky Way as seen from the Chimney Rock overlook in the Red River Gorge.
Fun fact, Chimney Rock is a fantastic place to enjoy some stargazing! Photo by Adam Thompson.

As has already been mentioned, this is an easy to access, easy to follow trail. You will start by parking at the end of Chimney Rock Road, located off Ky-715 in the Red River Gorge. This is a gravel road that can sometimes get a little rough, but I’ve only ever seen it get impassable to lower-clearance vehicles once or twice. You will find the trail-head at the end of this road, located across from the restrooms and the Princess Arch Trail.

The following Google Map should help you find it.

The Hike

Map of the hike to the Chimney Rock overlook in the Red River Gorge.
Map of the hike to the Chimney Rock overlook in the Red River Gorge.

To be honest, I hesitate to even call this one a hike. It’s really more of a walk. Most of the trail is paved and there is really only one small hill at the end. It’s a great side-trip that can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Really, all you have to do is follow the trail. It’s nearly impossible to get lost or turned around on this one!

The Chimney Rock overlook is a great place to catch the sunset. Photo by Adam Thompson.

Something to note is that this easy accessibility makes Chimney Rock a popular spot. As such, I have only ranked this hike as being a 4 out of 5 do to you rarely being able to get it to yourself during peak season. It’s still well worth the trip, however!

So, a half mile, easy hike to one of the very best overlooks in the state. What’s not to love about that?!