Power Loop Hike

Hiker Red River Gorge Backpacking Map
Distance: 9.3 Miles loop
Difficulty: +++
Scenic Views: ++
Elevation Relief: 500ft ^^^^
Ownership: Daniel Boone National Forest, USFS

Red River Gorge Backpacking Map: $14

The Power Loop Hike…need more explanation? This favorite 9.25 mile loop has 4 ‘ups’ or creek-to-ridge ascents, which is 1800 feet of cumulative ‘up’ elevation change. If you finish it in 4 hours, you’re walking good; in 3 hours you’re marching; and in 2 hours you’re smokin’. About a 1/3 of the loop is on the Sheltowee Trace. This is one of the best loops in the Daniel Boone NF.
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Furnace Arch, Sheltowee Trace

aalCave Run Lake Trail Guide
Distance: 6 Miles round-trip from trailhead
Difficulty: ++
Scenic Views: +++
Elevation Relief: 500ft ^
Ownership: Daniel Boone NF, USFS

Sheltowee Trace North Trail Map

Hiker Hiker Hiker

Imagine the scene around Clear Creek Iron Furnace in the 1830’s, the trailhead for this hike. Scores of men were clearing old growth trees by acres a week, cutting limestone from the creeks, and hauling iron ore rock from neighboring hillsides to fuel one of largest iron furnaces in Kentucky. Iron was produced roughly nine months out of the year. The process was a laborious affair, but the profit was great until much larger deposits of iron ore were found in the southern Appalachians and around the Great Lakes.

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The cut wood was slowly burned in dirt covered pit to make charcoal. The furnace was ‘charged’ from the top in layers of ore, charcoal, and limestone and when full, the furnace was stoked with forced air until the charcoal was white-hot and the whole furnace roared tremendously and blasted heated air, flames, and a shower of sparks from the top. That’s when the furnace was in blast and slowly molten iron would flow from furnace bottom and fill trenches of sand to make pig iron ingots. The iron ore found in rocks is basically rust and is rendered as elemental iron in series of chemical reactions in the furnace.

Today you can still see many aspects of the furnace operation. The hand-cut limestone furnace still stands. Glass and slag are found downstream. The fuel for charcoal of course grows around abundantly. The limestone outcrops as you ascend the trail south from furnace. The Sinks is a sinkhole in the limestone bedrock produced by the slow process of erosion. Atop the southern extent of this trail, you’ll find the same rugged sandstone the produces the great rockshelters in the Red River Gorge. In fact, if you continue hiking the Sheltowee Trace south, you’ll travel through the heart of the Gorge.

Furnace Arch is a low broad arch that resembles the iron furnace in shape. The sandstone outcrops in the area offer a few campsites, though no water along the ridge top. The scenic quality of this area, with blooming rhododendron against craggy boulders, is worth a day of exploration.

Auxier Ridge & Double Arch Trails

Hiker Red River Gorge Backpacking Map
Distance: 3.2 Miles loop trail
Difficulty: ++
Scenic Views: ++++
Elevation Relief: 400ft ^
Ownership: Daniel Boone National Forest, USFS

Red River Gorge Backpacking Map: $14

Auxier Ridge is one of the great hiking areas in the Red River Gorge. Hikers have two loop options here. First, you can hike out the Ridge on trail #204, passing some excellent scenic overlooks, and return on Trail #202, Courthouse Rock trail. The second option is to return by way off Auxier Branch Trail, #203, with a side trip to Double Arch. This second option uses the closed Tunnel Ridge Road to connect back to the trailhead.
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Rock Creek Loop, a cool summer hike

Twin ArchesHiker Big South Fork Map
Distance: 6.6 Miles round-trip
Difficulty: ++
Scenic Views: +++
Elevation Relief: 520ft ^
Ownership: Big South Fork, NPS

Big South Fork Trail Map: $12

Hike the scenic crossroads of the John Muir Trail and Sheltowee Trace. Rock Creek Loop is a 6.6-mile loop in our Big South Fork Guide. Half of this loop follows the cool waters of Rock Creek, a trout stream with small stretches of swift water and deep pools for summer refreshment.

Hikers weave through a forest dominated by old, stately Hemlock and American Beech trees with grassy, wildflower areas along the stream bank. The trail is a rugged footpath with a bridge across Massey Branch. Numerous backcountry campsites along the loop offer great weekend backpacking options with side trail options into Pickett State Park and the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Rock Creek Loop

Gray’s Arch Trail

Hiker Red River Gorge Backpacking Map
Distance: 3.4 Miles loop trail
Difficulty: ++
Scenic Views: ++++
Elevation Relief: 400ft ^
Ownership: Daniel Boone National Forest, USFS

Red River Gorge Backpacking Map: $14

This well-used and maintained trail is the first (or last) segment of the challenging 10-mile Power Loop Hike. Starting at Gray’s Arch trailhead parking (map) walk a short quarter-mile double-width foot trail to an intersection with the Martin’s Fork Trail. Continue to the right passing the small field on Butterfly Hill. About a mile into the hike, you’ll find a few ridge top campsites west of the trail. An unmapped trail follows a narrow ridge above Left Flank climbing area.

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Swift Camp Creek Trail

Hiker Red River Gorge Backpacking Map
Distance: 7.8 Miles one-way
Difficulty: +++
Scenic Views: +++
Elevation Relief: 500ft ^
Ownership: Daniel Boone National Forest, USFS

Red River Gorge Backpacking Map: $14

The best trail in the Clifty Wilderness Area. Starting at Rock Bridge trailhead and hiking down Swift Camp Creek as it cuts a steep, narrow gorge, you’ll experience the least-visited area in the Red River Gorge. Trail often skirts cliff edges and side trails wind down to the creek and cool water in the summer heat. Nice campsites exist near Pooch’s Turtle Falls, Don Juan’s Garden, and Steamboat Rock.
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2010 Draft of New Great Smoky Mountains Trail Map

Welcome to our new topographic map of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At 1:50,000 scale, this will be the most detailed map published of the park. We’ve added a couple new features to help better navigate in this wonderful national park, such as the new official trail system and elevation contours. We’re almost done!

You can check out a public draft here: http://www.outrageGIS.com/grsm/draft and please tell us what you think in the below comments section.

New Features:

  • 1:50,000 scale, which is 140% enlargement of the Trails Illustrated map
  • 100-foot contour interval with 500-foot index contours
  • Canopy cover type indicating deciduous, evergreen, shrub, grass, and open areas
  • 1-minute Geographic coordinate grid for GPS
  • Elevations for trail intersections and other points of interest
  • Mileage shown between trail intersections and campsites
  • Updated official trails and campsites
  • Unique hillshading shows topography clearly

Ridge Trail at Cumberland Gap NHP

Buy this mapHiker Hiker Cumberland Gap Map
Distance: 16 Miles round-trip from the Civic Park trailhead at Ewing
Difficulty: +++
Scenic Views: ++++
Elevation Relief: 2,000ft ^^
Ownership: Cumberland Gap, NPS

Cumberland Gap Trail Map: $14

The Pixel Team hiked up to Hensley Settlement after the Southeastern Foot Trails Conference and it was a fantastic, sublime experience. Sherman Hensley hiked up this mountain in 1903 with his pregnant wife and all of the tools and livestock they could drive. They saw a large, flat expanse on the mountain summit and carved out a pioneer homestead. Two backcountry camps are within 0.5 miles of this historic community.

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3D map of Natural Bridge State Park

If you have used our Red River Gorge hiking map, you’ve noticed that trail intersections are labeled. This is to help read the elevation profiles. Another way to represent relative changes in elevation is with a 3D map. Below is a simple render of the core, historic trails in Natural Bridge State Resort Park. There’s about 7 miles of trail shown on this map, and they’re probably the most used trails in the Red River Gorge.

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Chimney Tops and Road Prong Trail

Appalachian TrailHiker Great Smokies Trail Atlas
Distance: 9 Miles round-trip from trailhead
Difficulty: +++
Scenic Views: +++
Elevation Relief: 1,800ft ^^
Ownership: Great Smoky Mountains, NPS

Great Smokies Trail Atlas: $14

As you drive from the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road, you’ll catch glimpses of the Chimney Tops, a summit outcropping of tough, erosion resistant metamorphic rock. Originally deposited as sedimentary rock, such as shale, sandstone, and siltstone over 500 million years ago, the rocks that make the mountains here first experienced metamorphosis becoming a hard, slate-type rock, and then mountain building forces to form the folded and faulted Appalachians, with peaks as high as the Rocky Mountains. Today, after 200 million years of erosion, Chimney Tops stands at 4,800 feet and roughly a 1,400 vertical foot climb from the trailhead below. As you walk and climb along the last quarter-mile of the ridge, you’ll clearly see the bedrock tilting down to the right, evidence of the great tectonic forces that thrust up the mountains that you’ll admire around you from this inspiring prominence.

The name the Cherokee Indians gave Chimney Tops, was Forked Antler. As you scan the ridge from valley overlooks, you can easily imagine the shape of a deer’s antler. The first 3/4 mile of this hike follows Road Prong, a stream that reaches the crest line of the Smokies. If you continue up Road Prong trail, you’ll hike one of the oldest trails in the area. Long used as an Indian path through the mountains, the path was expanded during the Civil War to move troops through the Smokies connecting Smokemont, North Carolina with Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The road was called the Oconaluftee Turnpike and it passed through Indian Gap at the summit. Today the summit is marked with the Appalachian Trail and Indian Gap is called Luftee Gap.

A note about climate and slope in the mountains. The high mountains in the area form steep, thinly soiled slopes, which are historically prone to landslides after extended periods of heavy rain. You’ll see many scars and debris fields from previous landslides as you hike to the summit. And the Smokies know plenty about rain: the summit line receives on average more precipitation anywhere east of the U.S. mountain west coast.

Because of the elevation, the temperature is similar to Canada, but because of the relief (over a mile above surrounding foothills), the precipitation pattern is more typical marine, creating colder and wetter conditions. Because of the proximity to Gulf and Atlantic tropical air masses, summer storms, especially remnants of hurricanes, can produce torrential rain events. These storms increase flash flooding and landslide hazards. In the late winter, polar air masses from the north can create an upslope flow forcing up moisture rich air and produce heavy snowfall. With an average of 5-8 inches of rain per month, streams can be difficult to cross anytime of the year. Please contact the park service before any backcountry trip.

White Rocks and the Ridge Trail

White RocksHiker Hiker Cumberland Gap Map
Distance: 16 Miles round-trip from trailhead
Difficulty: +++
Scenic Views: ++++
Elevation Relief: 1,800ft ^^
Ownership: Cumberland Gap, NPS
Google to trailheads

Cumberland Gap Trail Map: $12

The White Rocks overlook to Martin’s Fork on the Ridge Trail is the “power-date” of overnight trips in Cumberland Gap. You have a massive ascent, a capital view, and great camp at Martin’s Fork rustic cabin. The stadium rockhouse Sand Cave helps cool your engines and spirit. Trees bent dog-legged by mountain top winds great you like old friends. You are on the Ridge Trail.whiterocks-hike-rgb-web-lar.gif

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Scales, grids, and graticules

ScalesMeasurement scales, grids, and graticules for our printed map titles. Print them at home and use them in the woods to more precisely locate yourself with a GPS unit set to DD MM.MMM, on a UTM grid, or just measure linear distance.

These handy print outs have other information about the map they cover and fit in the polyzip carry bag.

Remember, don’t rescale these pdfs when you print them.

To download scales, visit: outrageGIS.com/scales

Historical & 3D Maps of the Great Smokies

Historical MapWe’re continually updating the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trail Atlas and hope to have a pre-release sample here by early March. The emphasis now is cleaning the labels on the 1:90k map series. These two maps here are sections in the atlas and we appreciate any feedback or comments. Each link takes you to a zoomable and pannable image of the map.

The map on the left is the Pioneer Places of the Great Smoky Mountains, a 1926 U.S Geological Survey map overlaid with modern-day park destinations. The map shows the park on the eve of its creation. The cartography is exceptional and has been preserved where possible. Many of the park place names have changed over the century with the addition of many dedicated names after the park’s creation. In some cases names were moved to accommodate significant persons deemed more worthy of a place name than the existing title.

3D Map of the Great Smokies
The map on the right is a Bird’s Eye View of the Great Smoky Mountains. This 3rd draft 3D map shows the major landforms in Smokies and helps the hiker understand the topography and major drainages in the park. Each feature has an elevation (in feet above sea level) tagged in its label. The Appalachian Trail is signified by the yellow line. This major revision pushes the colors to purer CMYK mixes that make it less muddy in process-color printing.

Cumberland Gap Trip Planner

Trip Planner Great Backcountry Trips at Cumberland Gap
This webpage with zoomable map shows awesome backcountry trips in color-coded loops, all of which use some segment of the Ridge Trail. Trips are organized as weekend excursions with suggested camping and water access. The map is a simplified version of the full topographic trail guide found here. The full map also contains the useful elevation profiles for trails.

The page also has links to audio about recreation in Cumberland Gap. The audio is part of the free audio driving tour we produced entitled, The First Frontier Audio Driving Tour. The entire tour can be download for free at firstfrontier.org.

Hiker Hiker Cumberland Gap Trail Guide
Ownership: Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, NPS
Google to trailheads

Cumberland Gap Trail Map: $12

Red River Gorge Climbing Areas

Rock & DogHiker Red River Gorge Sports Map
Distance: Varied mileage for approaches to climbing areas
Difficulty: ++++
Scenic Views: ++++
Elevation Relief: 800ft
Ownership: Daniel Boone National Forest, USFS, Red River Gorge Climber’s Coalition, The Muir Valley, and private lands
Google to trailhead

Red River Gorge Sports map: $7

The Red River Gorge is internationally known for rock climbing. With the expansive development of climbing areas in the Gorge, numerous guidebooks have been published to help climbers find new routes. The current definitive publication and website is RedRiverClimbing.com. An interactive map locating climbing areas pulls from redriverclimbing.com’s online guidebook and shows the myriad of publications currently available. While the basic GPS-gridded map with 50 crags, the Muir Valley, and the Southern Gorge can be purchased here.