“A quintessential Red River Gorge running experience.
— Chris Chaney
Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The Auxier - Courthouse Loop has been a natural attractor for runners for years. The ridge has magnificent views and challenging terrain and it naturally makes sense to return via the different and interesting Courthouse Rock Trail.
There is a lot of foot traffic along the ridge. The lower trail is starkly different and gets far less. It is a bit more remote and if you get into trouble it's unlikely someone will come across you quickly on Courthouse Rock Trail #202
Need to Know
There are a series of manmade steps at the end of the ridge. If you do this loop clockwise you'll have a grunt climb. Clockwise there is a quasi-scramble to gain the ridge.
Lots of roots and eroded sections of trail. This is also an exposed ridge for much of the run and can be dangerous in storms. The Courthouse Rock Trail is below cliff line and gets a fraction of the traffic that the upper section gets and can feel remote.
This run is quintessential Red River Gorge. The ridge is rolling and tough at speed. The views are nothing less than amazing. You pass Haystack Rock, Courthouse Rock and overlooks along the way.
The lower section of the loop along Courthouse Rock Trail #202
is distinctly different from the ridgetop portion (Auxier Ridge Trail #204
) and feels remote and isolated.
A variation of this run is to traverse across Auxier Branch on the Auxier Branch Trail and gain Tunnel Ridge Road to return to the trailhead. You can also detour to Double Arch on this variation.
Flora & Fauna
You will likely see birds, maybe snakes, and possibly squirrels. Deer and bear live in the area as well as bobcats, but they are rare and you have to be darn lucky to see them. This is the Red River Gorge so flora is diverse and amazing.