Get ready for an adventure at one of Kentucky’s hidden gems. The Red River Gorge via ferrata run by the South East Mountain Guides is located in Wolfe County just outside of Compton Kentucky. We didn’t know much about the course before we made the trip in April 2021 and were in for a pleasant surprise when we finally got on the course!
Red River Gorge Via Ferrata – at South East Mountain Guides
Link: South East Mountain Guides
They will ask you to arrive 10-15 minutes before your pre-scheduled start time so you will have time to pay and sign your waver. From there you will meet your “guide” who will get you fitted safely in your harness and screamer (safety straps/leads). Then walking you through the process on a training wall. This will take 15-30 minute depending on the size of your group.
Once you complete the walk through you are free to start tackling the course on your own. The way the course is set up allows your “guide” to watch the entire course from his post. So if anything does go wrong he can get up and access the course to provide help.
The course itself runs along the canyon walls surrounding the property and is completely visible from the properties deck. And while it may not look extremely long from the ground, it feels like a much longer course once you are on the wall.
The course is broken into 6 different sections. With difficulties ranging from beginner to black diamond. Each section (1-6) has an entrance/exit point with trails leading back to the main office. Allowing you to take a break and restart at any point on the course. This is also important as they serve as passing points. There is no passing on the sections, only at these entrance/exit points.
As mentioned above, the course is split into 6 sections of increasing difficulty. With the final and toughest section labeled the “black diamond.” I’ve done a few via ferretas (Ouray Via Ferrata Guide) and can honestly say that this was the toughest one I’ve ever completed.
While it doesn’t the exposer that some of the higher courses will give you. The technical/strength climbing that it takes to complete the last two section more than make up for it. Primarily on the black Diamand route. Which will have you on a pitch forcing you to stick your feet into the rungs to stay connected to the wall. There are also section where you are using the rock for feat and hand holds.
Red River Gorge Via Ferrata – Closing Thoughts
This was my first time visiting the South East Mountain Guides but it will not be my last. As far as bang for your buck fun, this may be one of the funnest via ferratas in the united states. The fact that you can go as many times as you would like during your booked time, jump to the more advanced sections, and the course difficulty all make this one the best adventures you could have while visiting the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.