More than 250 years ago, a soon-to-be American legend led his scouting party through untamed old growth forests, across wild rushing waters, around uncrossable crags and up treacherous, imposing mountainsides until he reached a jagged peak where he laid his hand on the furthermost rock, looked out and saw a wilderness so vast, fertile, unspoiled and beautiful that he knew this land would be the next place Americans would dream of settling. That man, Daniel Boone, the legendary pioneer and frontiersman, is credited with being the first founder, settler and father of Kentucky.
Several years later, in 1775, when Boone found and blazed a trail through the natural notch in the Appalachians known as the Cumberland Gap, he created the passage that would lead America westward into what would become the state of Kentucky. That passage became known as the Wilderness Road and lead settlers across the mountains from Virginia northwest to Fort Boonesboro, one of the very first English-speaking settlements west of the Appalachians, and through what is today The Kentucky Wildlands.
Daniel Boone’s presence still rings out and can be felt across the region today. Whether on the beautiful, historic Wilderness Road Heritage National Scenic Byway where Boone blazed the original trail through Cumberland Gap, on the peak of the 730-foot-high Pilot’s Knob where he looked out on that first view that took his breath away, or among the gorgeous natural wonders found throughout the still pristine Daniel Boone National Forest, you can walk in the footsteps and trace the path he and the earliest settlers to the area took. You can literally see where he left his mark in places, such as at the free-flowing Lulbegrud Creek in Powell County, which legend has it was named after one of Boone’s party read aloud about the fictional town of Lorbrulgrud in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, or on D. Boon Hut Trail in the Red River Gorge leading to a rock shelter believed to be a winter camp site used by the famous woodsman.
What may be most amazing about all the breathtaking mountains, lakes, rivers, creeks, gorges, trails and lush wooded countryside in The Kentucky Wildlands is that it remains largely preserved and as virtually unspoiled as it was when it was charted by Daniel Boone and his party centuries ago. You can capture that spirit of expectation, thrill-seeking adventure and discovery while you blaze new trails of your own in this beautiful region.
The Kentucky Wildlands is Daniel Boone country and once you come visit and explore for yourself, you will truly understand what he meant when he said, “Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place.”