Indian Stairwell Indian Stairwell

LengthDifficultyViewsSolitudeCamping
Approx: 1.2 miles mi.Hard

Hike Information Hike Information

Indian Staircase From Slade (exit 33), you will turn left onto 402 W. Follow 402 until you see signs for the Red River Gorge, you will turn right onto 77 E. When you come to a fork in the road, continue straight, instead of following 77. You will now be on 715 E. Indian Staircase is not an official trail, so there will be no signs. You will be looking for the “Bison Way” trail head parking. It's located right before the stone bridge near the Gladie Learning Center. You will begin on Bison Way, a one mile trail that connects to the Sheltowee Trace. Bison Way is an easy trail that is quite level for the most part. It meanders along at a mid mountain level, around mossy boulders, with the Red River below, and limestone cliffs above. Once you reach the end of Bison Way, you will see a sign for the Sheltowee Trace. The trail comes to a T, you will want to take a left! From here the trail begins to go up hill. You will walk through dense forests, rich in Hemlock and Mountain Laurel. Since Indian Staircase is an unofficial trail it is not marked very well. You will have to keep an eye peeled for side trails cutting off to the right. There are two trails that can take you the direction you need to go. The easiest one is quite large, and is the second one you will come to. There is a notch cut out into a tree, and also an “I. S.” (Indian Staircase) carved directly into an white diamond official trail marker, pointing towards the unofficial trail you need to follow! This trail is short, and leads uphill towards the cliff. You'll walk along massive boulders, and eventually start your way up the rocks, you will walk up several “stairs” worn into the rocks, before you reach the main set! Indian Staircase is a huge cliff face, that has been worn down over many, many years of foot travel! The “stairs” are not carved out, but worn down! You will be amazed by the ease of walking straight up this cliff! Although it is not terribly dangerous, it is still quite high, and caution must be used! This trail may not be great for someone who is very afraid of heights. The view from the top is breathtaking! A huge line of cliff stands tall in front of the staircase, and curves around all the way to where you are standing. It is a deep canyon. The echo from this place is amazing, you can hear your voice call back not only once, but twice! Perhaps this has something to do with why the Native Americans came to this area often, regularly enough to etch foot holds into solid stone! If you'd like to try a more adventurous exit route, you can follow the cliff line. With your back to the staircase, you will want to go right, walking along the ridge. There are several beautiful overlooks, and even an awesome side view of the Indian Staircase! From this angle, you will be amazed that you walked up that cliff! Once you come to the end of this ridge, you will have to do some scrambling to get down a little section of cliff, there are tree roots to hold onto. This section of trail is a lot more strenuous than the original Indian Staircase trail. Even if you chose not to go this route, it is still worth walking out a little ways, just to see the side view of the Indian Staircase! You can always simply go back the way you came! Indian Staircase is a must see, if you love cliffs, or if you are interested in the archeology of the area! It is truly an amazing place, and it is an awesome feeling knowing you are walking in the foot prints of the Native Americans that once called this beautiful region home!

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This is not an Official Trail

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Indian Staircase From Slade (exit 33), you will turn left onto 402 W. Follow 402 until you see signs for the Red River Gorge, you will turn right onto 77 E. When you come to a fork in the road, continue straight, instead of following 77. You will now be on 715 E. Indian Staircase is not an official trail, so there will be no signs. You will be looking for the “Bison Way” trail head parking. It's located right before the stone bridge near the Gladie Learning Center.

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