Effective today, the Auxier Ridge area of the Red River Gorge is reopened to the public, including Tunnel Ridge Road and all trails.
Forest Supervisor Frank Beum of the Daniel Boone National Forest ordered the Auxier Ridge area closed last October after a destructive wildfire burned 1,640 acres. The fire was illegally set during a declared fire ban under drought conditions.
“Since the wildfire, we have been working to restore the Auxier Ridge area and make it safe for visitors,” said Dave Manner, District Ranger of the Cumberland Ranger District.
“We have removed numerous fire-damaged trees along roads and trails,” said Manner. “Other work has included soil stabilization and trail repairs where the soil collapsed or eroded.”
Following the Auxier Ridge wildfire, Forest Service specialists spent several weeks assessing resource damages on soil, water and vegetation. Along the ridge tops, where the fire burned extremely hot, the damages were extensive.
Under exceeding drought conditions last October, the fire burned tree roots underground, causing trees to fall or become unstable. The burned tree roots caused soil to collapse, creating trenches across some trails.
In some areas, burned-out stump holes were nearly two feet deep. Trees and rocks slid downhill, requiring extensive cleanup efforts.
Throughout the Auxier Ridge area, trees remain standing but damaged. Many trees are nearly severed at the base, which could become hazardous during high wind.
“When entering the general forest area of Auxier Ridge, away from roads and trails, visitors will need to use caution and watch for trees that could break or fall,” added Manner. “You especially want to look for potentially hazardous trees when selecting a backcountry campsite.”
No fires bans are declared at this time in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
The three individuals who were responsible for the fire (via an illegal campfire), have never been caught.
For more information on hiking in Red River Gorge, please click here.