Some of the most incredible hiking trails and adventures in the country can be found in The Kentucky Wildlands. Hike more than 600 miles of pristine national forest trails; trek alongside beautiful cascading waterfalls; discover unique natural wonders, such as towering sandstone cliffs, arches and bridges; ascend historic lookouts and majestic peaks offering expansive, breathtaking views; follow buffalo-created paths; and visit authentic mountain Trails Towns. The options for hiking in this Appalachian region are truly unlimited with trails ranging from easy to very strenuous in difficulty.
In the Daniel Boone National Forest alone you’ll find more than 708,000 sprawling acres of federally protected land crisscrossed by 600-plus miles of connected trailways filled with abundant wildlife, such as the Bark Camp and Panoramic Trails. The Sheltowee Trace is a 323-mile trail (mostly moderate) running through the Daniel Boone National Forest from the Tennessee border in the south up to Kentucky’s northeast corner. Secluded waterfalls, such as Creation Falls in the incredible Red River Gorge Geological Area, and awe-inspiring cascades, such as the seven-story Cumberland Falls (known as the Niagara of the South) and Vanhook Falls, are accessible via numerous trails to accommodate different hiking abilities. The Red River Gorge is home to the highest concentration of sandstone arches east of the Mississippi and to hiking that offers stunning sights throughout the year: flowering rhododendron and pink lady’s slippers in the spring, maidenhair ferns in the summer, fiery red maple and golden poplar leaves in the fall, and ice-draped cliffs in the winter.
The roads less taken lead to exclusive natural wonders, such as the underground flowstone cascades of the Cumberland Gap Caverns (guided tours available), or summits with stunning, panoramas, such as the three-state view at Pinnacle Overlook. Experience the awe-inspiring view Daniel Boone beheld more than 250 years ago at historic Pilot Knob. Retrace paths used by wild buffalo (and later Daniel Boone) on trails such as Manchester’s scenic River Walk and stroll through charming pathways-connected Appalachian Trail Towns.
From iconic trails, such as Indian Staircase or Indian Arch, to lesser-known ones, such as those in Bad Branch State Nature Preserve, from nature walks to hikes not for the faint of heart, you’ll never run out of new places to explore on foot in The Kentucky Wildlands.