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Keeping safety first when hiking at the Gorge

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 17:52:32-04

POWELL COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Red River Gorge is a true gem of Kentucky and more hikers from across the country are taking the Slade exit off the Mountain Parkway to find their next trail.

Summer is usually a busy time for rescue teams in the area.

"Happy to have them, but we just want people to be careful when they come here obviously," said John May with Wolfe County Search & Rescue.

May says his team has responded to 38 different rescues this year.

"Ranging from swift water back during the flooding to typical Red River Gorge traffic; lost hikers, injured hikers, things along those lines," said May.

Lisa Johnson with the Powell County Search & Rescue Squad says her team has already responded to 38 missions in 2021.

"You know we had three Friday. And we didn't get out till 2:30 in the morning," said Johnson.

Back in 2019, Johnson says the Squad responded to 68 different rescues.

"I don't look forward to ever beating that record of 68. That's one record you don't want to beat," said Johnson.

But at this rate, both squads may eclipse that number. With the rest of the summer and fall on the horizon, Johnson hopes travelers keep common sense in mind.

She says most importantly, never hike alone.

"Know your trails, read about your trails before you come in. Know your National Forest, what the rules are, there are laws and they'll save you in the long run," said Johnson."We want people to come here and enjoy our little slice of heaven, we just want them to do it safely," said May.

Johnson also says you should keep a whistle with you so you can alert people if you need help, bring plenty of water, and keep an eye on the forecast.