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Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail

The Sheltowee Trace is over 300 miles of National Recreation Trail, established in 1979, in the Appalachian region of the Eastern U.S., and reaches from northern Rowan County, Kentucky to the Leather Wood Trail Head in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area just across the Tennessee border. The Trail runs mostly through the Daniel Boone National Forest, and is named for the Shawnee word for “Big Turtle”, which was the name given to Daniel Boone in 1779 when he was adopted as the son of the great warrior chief Blackfish.

Take only pictures; leave only footprints.

Ancient Indian Proverb

There are many hiking trails within the Daniel Boone National Forest. Some of them are easy, and some quite difficult, but the Sheltowee Trace is perhaps the best known. The trail traverses some of the most scenic areas in eastern Kentucky. Hiking all or part of this trail provides a view of rock cliffs, natural bridges, and remote streams. The trail creates a link between many of the forest's developed recreational areas which offer overnight camping for hikers.


The trail follows a North-South route and includes parts of the Wilderness Road and Warrior’s Path. The Wilderness Road was originally cut by Boone to bring settlers into Kan-tuk-kee while the American Colonies were still part of Great Britain. The Warrior’s Path was used for centuries by the native peoples of this region to travel to and from this lush hunting ground. The trail passes Cave Run Lake, Clifty Wilderness, Red River Gorge, Kentucky River, Laurel Lake, Cumberland Falls, Rock Creek Wild River and Pickett State Park in Tennessee. - Rick McQuerry 2007

Jackson County encompasses approximately 35 miles of the Sheltowee Trace, which is open to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain bikes.  Some sections also allow all-terrain vehicles. The areas identified as: Turkey Foot Campground, the City of McKee, and Horse Lick Creek (S-Tree Campground) are designated Section 19, Section 20, and Section 21, respectively of the 38 Trail Sections of the Sheltowee Trace.

Running through at least 17 Kentucky counties, the Sheltowee Trace is marked by the distinctive diamond and turtle blaze. The Sheltowee Trace is designated #100 in the National Recreation Trails system, and can frequently be found written and marked this way.









McKee, Kentucky, the county seat of Jackson County, is currently going through the process of becoming an official, state-sponsored Trail Town. We are excited about the possibilities and opportunities this designation will afford us. To check out our progress on becoming a Trail Town.

​Flat Lick Falls - Gray Hawk, Kentucky

For the most scenic hiking through diverse vegetation, enjoy the trails at Flat Lick Falls Recreational and Scenic Area near Gray Hawk, Kentucky.  From short-loop, handicap- accessible trails through scenic outlooks to longer, more rugged trails, this county-owned recreational area has something for everyone.  Open all year long from sunrise to sunset.


S-Tree and Turkey Foot Campgrounds

In addition to campsites and picnic areas, the S-Tree and Turkey Foot Campgrounds both have trails surrounded by Daniel Boone National Forest.

Warrior's Path - Gray Hawk, Kentucky
The first settlers of these hills were Native Americans who cut the Warrior's Path, a trail connecting the Shawnees in Ohio with the Cherokees in Tennessee and Georgia. Evidence of their habitation of "rock houses," cliff overhangs, are still being found today.

Early settlers were probably hunters and fishermen, but as forests were cleared, farming became the primary industry. The rugged terrain and the lack of adequate roads both isolated the communities and made the people self-sufficient. Many of their crafts have been preserved in Appalachia and help to keep alive the history of these early settlers.

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