michael harr, mba
by Michael J. Harr, MBA on October 6th, 2015

Location

Koomer Ridge Campground is located on KY Route 15 about 2 miles past Tunnel Ridge Road. Here are directions:
  • Traveling southeast, take Exit 33 from the Mountain Parkway
  • Turn LEFT off the exit, travel under the overpass
  • Turn RIGHT onto KY 15
  • Travel 4.9 miles
  • Turn LEFT into Koomer Ridge Campground
We'll text you with campsite numbers. Download and save this document to your phone or print it out - Koomer Ridge Campground Flyer.

Gear Check

At the Campsite
  • Tent, Hammock, or Tarp System
  • Tarp or Ground Cover
  • Folding Chair
  • Lantern
  • Headlamp
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad/Mat or Inflatable Mattress
  • Pillow(s)
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Towel
  • Toiletries (if you plan to shower)
In Your Backpack
  • Toilet Paper in a Baggie
  • ​Hiking/Trekking Poles
  • 2 Reusable Water Bottles
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Trail Snacks (granola bars, beef jerky, etc.)
Clothing 
  • ​Underwear (3)
  • Light or Moderate Weight, Fast Drying Convertible Pants (2)
  • Socks (3)
  • Sweatpants/Jeans
  • Sweatshirt/Fleece
  • Wicking Short Sleeve T-Shirt/Base Layer (2)
  • Wicking Long Sleeve T-Shirt (2)
  • Waterproof outer layer (top and bottom)
  • Lightweight, Fast Drying Trail Shoes -OR- Comfortable Hiking Boots
  • Rain Blocking Hat

Itinerary

Friday
  • Depart NKY at 2:00 p.m.
  • Arrive at Koomer Ridge Campground at 4:00 p.m.
  • Pay for Campsites and Setup Camp
  • Cook Dinner and Chillax
SaturdaySunday

Food

We are expecting up to EIGHTEEN people on this camping trip.  As a result, please be sure to take care of your food needs!  I ain't cookin' for 18:-)

Here are some suggestions:
  • Friday Dinner - Rain is in the forecast, so something quick and easy is desirable.  Hot dogs, burgers, lunch meat, or reheating food made earlier in the week is ideal.
  • Saturday Breakfast - It should be dry on Saturday, and breakfast scrambles are easiest to make with eggs, sausage, and cheese.
  • Saturday Lunch on the Trail - Peanut butter and jelly is always a win unless you're me and like to eat an enormous amount of bologna.  Dry sandwiches are best because they'll be fermenting in your backpack while on the trails.
  • Saturday Dinner - Good weather should prevail Saturday night, so if you want to get  a little fancy with dinner, go for it!  Even so, keeping it simple after a long day of hiking isn't a bad idea either.
  • Sunday Brunch - Miguel's has become a tradition for us at the Gorge.  The community there is outstanding and the pizza is awfully good.  They've also added a huge amount of covered seating outdoors.

by Michael J. Harr, MBA on July 11th, 2015

"Rock Bridge Arch is located near the midpoint of a 1.3 mile loop trail which begins and ends in this picnic area. It is the only example in the Red River Gorge of a type of arch known as a waterfall arch. It was formed by a waterfall flowing over a resistant rock layer, the water worked on a weaker rock section at the top of the falls, and eventually cut through it. Rock Bridge is the only true bridge in the area, as a stream flows beneath it." -USDA Sign at Trailhead
Trail Signs - Rock Bridge Arch Trail - Red River Gorge
[Click or tap the image above to view as a full screen slideshow]
This was the best hike we did over the weekend covering just 1.3 miles of easy terrain, but the payoffs were outstanding. Rock Bridge Arch Trail (#207) had some of the best elements of hiking in Red River Gorge - rock shelters, a creek, waterfall, and an arch. The only thing missing from this hike is a good view from a cliff.

The trail begins from Rock Bridge Rd., a long, narrow, gravel road the move east from Ky. Route 715 for about 5 miles. Once you arrive at the trailhead, Rock Bridge Arch Trail descends into a counterclockwise loop covering about a mile and a quarter. Aside from a couple patches of moderately difficult hiking, it's an easy day hike with plenty to see.

Rock shelters. One of the first features you'll see are a pair of rock shelters with sandy bottoms. With so much sandstone in the area, sand is a regular sight at the Gorge. The larger of the rock shelters has a small trail leading up to a 'second story' ledge pictured below. Take care not to slip, as it's quite slick and not a short tumble to the bottom.

Waterfall. Continuing to descend, you'll come up to a waterfall that also has a nice little beach below it. This is a great stopping point to chill out and take in the scenery. If you decide to cross the creek above the waterfall, be very careful as the water may be stronger than you anticipate and the footing is both slippery and uneven. Cross well upstream from the falls, if at all.

Beach. As you continue on the trail, you'll descend to the intersection of two creeks. From there, you can walk upstream through the water to the 'beach' located just below the waterfall. This sandy beach is a great place to sit, relax, and play. When we were there, a dog was having a field day retrieving her toy as it came down the waterfall.

Rock Bridge Arch. Shortly after the waterfall and beach, you'll come up to Rock Bridge Arch. It's a beautiful and unique arch in Red River Gorge. Also, if you're daring and fit, you can climb up onto the arch to enjoy the views from above. The arch is very slippery when wet, so use good judgment when deciding whether or not to climb the arch.

Post-hike picnic. Once you've finished your hike, there are plenty of picnic tables available in the parking area. Take advantage of these by packing a lunch, and if you're inclined to grilling, go for it - standing charcoal grills are available.

Post-hike beer. If you're in the mood for a beer after your hike, the nearest watering hole is a short drive away. Skybridge Staion has you covered. Located just south of Rock Bridge Rd. at the corner of routes 715 (Skybridge Rd.) and 15 (Red River Gorge Scenic Byway), regional brews can be had for about $5 apiece and they are delicious.
Rock Shelter - Rock Bridge Arch Trail - Red River Gorge
Waterfall and Beach - Rock Bridge Trail - Red River Gorge
Waterfall - Rock Bridge Arch Trail - Red River Gorge
Waterfall and Beach 2 - Rock Bridge Arch Trail - Red River Gorge
Rock Bridge Arch - Rock Bridge Arch Trail - Red River Gorge
Picnic Area - Rock Bridge Arch Trail - Red River Gorge

by Michael J. Harr, MBA on June 27th, 2015

Rocky Branch Shelter #1 Quick Facts:
  • Shelters:  1, sleeps 8-12
  • Tent Platforms:  3, sleeps two 2-person tents with ease
  • Tent Sites:  1, sleeps two 2-person tents or one 3/4-person tent
  • Toilets:  1
  • Water Source:  Rocky Branch (very reliable)
  • Firepit:  Yes
  • US Dept. of Agriculture Link 
Rocky Branch Trail - Jericho Rd Trailhead
Down the street from our house for the week was the Rocky Branch Trail. Last September, bridge work was underway and now, the bridge is in good working order. While much of the trail remains closed - with sections of the old trail permanently so - what is open is well maintained and easy to follow. Overall, this is an easy hike to get back to Rocky Branch Shelter #1 from Jericho Road and onward to the Stairs Col Trail.
Rocky Branch Trail Near Jericho Rd Trailhead - Debris Field Indicating Old Trail Closed
The debris field pictured above is there to indicate that the old trail is closed to hikers. After exploring beyond this pile on the old trail, it's clear why this section isn't open - Rocky Branch has eroded below the trail. At one point, we could clearly see where a foot had punched through the trail on what appeared on the surface to be solid ground.
Rocky Branch Trail - Debris Signaling Old Trail Closed - South End
At the northern end of the closed old trail section is another debris field warning hikers to 'keep out'. It's good advice. The new trail moves a little further uphill and away from Rocky Branch, is well defined, and has a few very small stream crossings. Some have complained that it is difficult to follow the trail, but we would disagree, as the trail is in great shape and debris fields like those pictured here send a very clear message.
Rocky Branch Trail - Sign to Rocky Branch Shelter #1
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 is located a very short walk east of Rocky Branch Trail, just south of the intersection with the Stairs Col Trail.
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Pic 1
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 has plenty of room to sleep 8 comfortably and likely up to 12, if necessary.
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Pic 2
Another pic of Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - be sure to pack out what you pack in.
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Firepit
The firepit at Rocky Branch Shelter #1. It's very close to the shelter and black bear are known to frequent the area. Be sure to follow all bear safety tips - particularly in dealing with food.
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Signs to Tent Platforms and Toilet
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 has three tent platforms that can each house two 2-person tents, an overflow tent site, and a toilet.
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Trail to Water Sources - Rocky Branch
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Water Source - Rocky Branch
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Tent Platform #1
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Tent Platform #2
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Tent Platform #3
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Overflow Tent Site
Rocky Branch Shelter #1 - Toilet
Rocky Branch Trail - Stairs Col Trail - Intersection

by Michael J. Harr, MBA on June 24th, 2015

Lincoln Woods Visitor Center to Guyot Campsite
In total, we hiked more than 14 miles to reach Guyot Campsite, the destination for our first overnight hike in the White Mountains. While the trail is very easy with a gentle grade and excellent footing for the first several miles, Bondcliff Trail is brutal as it makes it's way to Bondcliff Mountain, Mt. Bond, and West Bond Mountain. And, the final two-tenths of a mile down to Guyot Campsite was less than easy - particularly on tired legs.

Here's a quick look at our hike in pictures and be sure to click or tap to view as a slideshow:
Lincoln Woods Trail - Sign at Lincoln Woods Visitor Center Trailhead
Lincoln Woods Trail - East Branch Pemigewasset River
Lincoln Woods Trail - Pemigewasset Wilderness Sign
Lincoln Woods Trail - Bondcliff Trail - Intersection
Iconic View of Cliff at Mt Bondcliff Overlooking Owls Head Mt Bond South Twin
Packs at the Summit of Mt Bondcliff
Bondcliff Trail - View of Ascent to Mt Bond
Bondcliff Trail - View from Summit of Mt Bond Overlooking Mt Bondcliff
Bondcliff Trail - West Bond Spur - Intersection
View from Summit of West Bond Mountain
Trail Markers Near Guyot Campsite
Guyot Campsite - Shelter
Guyot Campsite - Natural Spring
Guyot Campsite - Community Cooking Area

by Michael J. Harr, MBA on June 23rd, 2015

After hiking up to Mt. Osceola and East Osceola Mountain the day before, we were all a little more spent than anticipated. But, Bork and I couldn't take a day off the trails even with threatening skies. We decided to do a quick hike late in the day up to Arethusa Falls. We started out on Bemis Brook Trail and finished the hike on Arethusa Falls Trail.

Although the hike was relatively short, it wasn't without its difficulties. The connecting stretch from Bemis Brook Trail to Arethusa Falls Trail is a steep ascent. Add to this wet conditions and looming darkness and you have a chance at getting lost - like I did.

Bork likes to move quickly on steep ascents to get it over with while I generally take more time so I'm not as spent after the climb. That said, he went ahead. We were separated for a bit before I ran out of trail and had to retrace my steps before meeting up with him at the intersection of Bemis Brook Trail and Arethusa Falls Trail.

Regardless of the missteps, we were treated to some great sights that included Bemis Brook, Bemis Falls, Coliseum Falls, and Arethusa Falls. And, with plenty of rain that day and the week prior, the brook was roaring. It's a great little hike, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for a short hike, lots of water features, and some great views.

Below is a quick recap in pictures. Click or tap to view as a slide show.
Bemis Brook - White Mountains, New Hampshire
Bemis Falls Sign - White Mountains, New Hampshire
Bemis Falls - White Mountains, New Hampshire
Coliseum Falls Sign - White Mountains, New Hampshire
Coliseum Falls - White Mountains, New Hampshire
Ascent from Bemis Brook Trail to Arethusa Falls Trail - White Mountains, New Hampshire
Arethusa Falls Sign - White Mountains, New Hampshire
Arethusa Falls - White Mountains, New Hampshire