Sunday afternoon the Chainring clan (including canines) hiked out what I call Dunkan Ridge in Red River Gorge. Some people call it Tarr Ridge or more appropriately (but still not official) Tarr Ridge East. It is the ridge that is the watershed divide between Dunkan Branch and Wolfpen Creek in the Red River Gorge. Its one of my favorite easy ridgetop hikes anywhere.
In the past I have ridden the trail along the crest of Dunkan Ridge. Its an unofficial trail so there is no ban on bikes. Its not in the designated wilderness area. It is, in essence, Unofficial But Legal (UBL) for mountain bikes. And its a great trail.
On the west side there are some high and narrow ridge fingers which end in exposed overlooks above Dunkan Branch. All along the ridge you can catch glimpses of the massive and remote high cliffs of the upper Wolfpen drainage. Its really just a great but little known area.
Tuesday night the same Chainringers headed off to Lex Vegas to observe the Southern Lights at the Horse Park. Since the SAG Wagon was at capacity I opted to stay behind. Suddenly I had a window of opportunity about an hour and half wide. It was time to take the Simply Simple Bike to the Gorge!
Since the sun was sinking fast I took along the Lazer Mark II though I had no idea what kind of charge it had. I parked in the unofficial lot at the top of KY 77 past Fortress Wall. And I had decided on the drive up that I wanted to revisit Tarr Ridge proper as well. I'd only been out that ridge once and probably in '94 or '95. It was much as I remembered it. For about a mile I followed a gently rolling distinct double track which ended in an open field on a knoll. The road seemed to punctuate in a hardly used campsite so I turned around to backtrack and then ride Dunkan.
|The only deafall I couldn't ride over or around|
There was still good light as I crossed 77 and dropped fast onto the narrower trail on the east side. Dunkan Ridge must have been at least partially double track in the distant past, but now its just a wide and smooth single track that rolls with the crest of the ridge.
Trail faeries have chainsawed deadfall from the path and I hammered down on the SSB driving further and further out the ridge. Finally I reached the last big campsite before the trail turns tight amd narrow with a barrier of downed pines. Without slowing I slingshot around the campsite and pointed my front wheel back to the car. It was just as fun and fast returning as it was riding out. I burned my light but never really needed it.
In the end I rode 4.2 miles. To be honest that was a good mtb fix to be so close to home. I'll keep working to get more and better trails in the area, but for now Dunkan might be just the trail I need to preserve my sanity.