A publication of Appalachian Voices

A publication of Appalachian Voices

Hidden Treasures #6: Kentucky

Red River Gorge

Auxier Ridge Trail. Photo by
Kerry Mark Leibowitz

Auxier Area Trails
Daniel Boone National Forest

(606) 663-8100
Daniel Boone National Forest’s Red River Gorge Geological Area is a popular recreation destination for hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, hunting and fishing. This area is spectacular in its natural sandstone cliffs and rock formations.

The Auxier Ridge Trail near Slade, Ky., leads hikers 2.1 miles along a narrow ridge that ends with sweeping views of the gorge, including Haystack Rock, Auxier Branch and the Double Arch. From here, hikers can follow the Courthouse Rock Trail through forests and across streams. This leads back to the Auxier Ridge Trail and the parking area for a total of three miles.

For a longer loop, from the Auxier Ridge Trail, hikers can access the Auxier Branch Trail at a fork where it joins with the Courthouse Rock Trail. This trail is lined with ferns, poplar and beech trees and seasonal wildflowers. From this trail, follow the 4.4-mile Double Arch Trail. Hikers can take this trail to Double Arch for a scenic overlook or head straight for the parking area. This hike is roughly 7.5 miles.

Backcountry camping requires a permit, which costs $3 per day, $5 for three days or $30 annually, and can be obtained through payment envelopes on-site. — By Hannah Gillespie

Little Shepherd Trail
Kentenia State Forest

(502) 564-4496

Kentenia State Forest is the oldest state forest in Kentucky, having been gifted to the state by the Kentenia-Cantron Corporation in 1919. Located in Harlan County, there are seven scattered parcels which total 4,081 acres along the south side of Pine Mountain.

little shepherd

Little Shepherd Trail.
Photo by Jamie Middleton

The Little Shepherd Trail, which is best for vehicle travel, starts at U.S. 119 and ends at U.S. 421. It is a 38-mile narrow, winding road that traverses the crest of Pine Mountain. A portion of this road runs through Kentenia State Forest. Offering stunning views, some overlooks on the Little Shepherd Trail allow visitors to see both sides of Pine Mountain.

This road features broad vistas, rhododendron and mountain laurel and views of rocky, narrow ridges with steep slopes called hogbacks.

Only parts of this road are paved, so vehicles without 4-wheel drive may not be able to make the entire 38-mile trip. Though rocky at times, visiting the Little Shepherd Trail is worth experiencing the views and history embedded along the ridges of Pine Mountain. — By Sara Crouch

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