For the best of Kentucky’s great outdoors, visit one of the 24 Kentucky Trail Towns across the state featuring a variety of activities and landscapes second to none. From high adrenaline adventures to family-friendly activities, Kentucky’s certified Trail Towns are ready to welcome explorers of all stripes. Once the adventure ends, the experience continues in these active communities. Locally-owned restaurants, shops, and places to stay combined with world-class hospitality make Kentucky Trail Towns worth visiting again and again.
Kentucky’s first and most western Trail Town—Dawson Springs— is home to the Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park and a state forest of the same name. A scenic lake and the Tradewater River, a tributary of the Ohio River, make for a full complement of outdoor offerings.
On the banks of the Rockcastle River, Livingston attracts a number of trail users to the Daniel Boone National Forest. A renovated school building makes an attractive visitor center where people will also find the home of the Sheltowee Trace Association.
The northern terminus of the Sheltowee Trace and the shores of Cave Run Lake are the highlights for Morehead, Ky. Trails for mountain bikers and equestrians welcome trail users of all stripes. A local brewery and several local eateries make for a complete trip.
This historical eastern Kentucky town sits on the banks of Tygart Creek and just down the road from Carter Caves State Resort Park. Several historical festivals and equestrian-focused events provide highlights throughout the year. Rock climbing and cave exploration at the state park make for a unique Trail Town experience.
The self-proclaimed Cycling Capital of Kentucky, London sits just off Interstate 75 between Lexington and Knoxville. Their cycling offerings are highlighted by the annual Redbud Ride each spring. Don’t overlook local options for bikes with knobby tires, or the portion of the Sheltowee Trace that runs just outside of town.
Stearns, Ky. serves as the northern gateway to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Surrounding the Big South Fork is the southern end of the Daniel Boone National Forest making for almost unlimited adventures to be had in and around Stearns. Thrilling whitewater runs and a growing community of trail runners are just some of the highlights.
The eastern most Trail Town sits on the border of Virginia, and is home to Breaks Interstate Park. Explore the largest gorge east of the Mississippi River cut by the Russell Fork River, Elkhorn City and the Breaks have been home to whitewater enthusiasts for decades. The Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail and US Bike Route 76 all headline this mountain Trail Town.
Jamestown is home to Lake Cumberland, Wolf Creek Dam, the Cumberland River, and all the world-class fishing and water sports that go along with them. Lake Cumberland State Resort Park offers all the amenities for visitors as well as its own impressive network of trails.
Gateway to the Redbird District of the Daniel Boone National Forest, Manchester is the most off-road friendly of Kentucky’s Trail Towns. Local and federal trails invite riders and a multitude of vehicles to this eastern Kentucky town. Don’t overlook the phenomenal creek fishing and paddling in and around Manchester.
Cumberland, Lynch, and Benham Ky., are historic coal towns nestled between the mountains of Harlan County, Ky. Home to the state’s tallest point at Black Mountain, the Tri-Cities feature to numerous trails and events.
Kentucky’s most artistic Trail Town, Berea is no stranger to attracting visitors. Recent efforts to develop and promote their outdoor offerings make Berea a uniquely situated Trail Town along US Bike Route 76 and the Boone Trace.
This historic college town in southern Kentucky sits along the banks of Russell Creek, a major tributary to the Green River. A quaint downtown square and friendly people are just part of what makes Columbia a special place to visit.
Royalton’s claim to fame is the halfway point of Kentucky’s longest Rails to Trail, the Dawkins Line. This former rail line features impressive tunnels and numerous bridges. Hikers, cyclists, and equestrians will all find a place on the Dawkins Line.
The iconic Red River Gorge needs no introduction for rock climbers. Home to main stays like Natural Bridge State Resort Park and Miguel’s Pizza, Slade has a full menu of different adventures and local restaurants to explore.
This Jackson County Trail Town sits at the intersection of the Sheltowee Trace and US Bike Route 76. In addition to these major trail systems, there is camping and trails for both off-road vehicles and equestrians.
On the banks of the Green River in Hart County sits Munfordville. Outside paddling and well-kept local hiking trails, Munfordville has made a name for itself as a home for elite, competitive barbecue and as a place where you may find yourself on the set of a movie.
Cave City + Horse Cave
These adjoining towns cross county lines but offer much in the way of outdoor adventure and local restaurants. Anchored by Mammoth Cave National Park, there are miles of trails, local cycling routes, caves, and even zip lines to experience.
This southern Kentucky town is a jumping off point for visitors coming to Green River Lake State Park and its namesake reservoir. Mountain bike and equestrian trails can be found, as well as plenty of water sports and excellent fishing. Make sure to allot enough time to enjoy all downtown has to offer, including local barbecue, a coffee shop, and full-service bike shop.
Hazard, Ky. is home to US Bike Route 76, an extensive trail network for ATVs and UTVs, and the North Fork of the Kentucky River. In recent years, local groups have developed a world-class trail system just outside of Hazard.
Estill Twin Cities
Irvine and Ravenna are historic river and railroad towns in beautiful Estill County. The Kentucky River highlights current outdoor adventures, with plenty of railroad related history, attractions, and restaurants available in town.
Another gateway to Mammoth Cave, Brownsville also provides access to Nolin Lake State Park. Mountain biking and paddling are two popular activities for visitors and locals in Brownsville. The local farmers market is one to be sure to visit if given the opportunity.
Don’t be fooled by the moniker of Kentucky’s “first urban Trail Town,” Elizabethtown is full of great outdoor adventure. As the name implies, they have the community assets to fully compliment their long list of trails and parks. Local restaurants, museums, and bourbon bars are just some of what you’ll find in this central Kentucky Trail Town.
Downstream from other Trail Towns on the Green River lies Morgantown. Several river-focused events highlight the calendar for Morgantown, and a scenic downtown offers an artist guild and local businesses worth a stop.
Park City is a picturesque town at one end of the Mammoth Cave Railroad Hike Bike Trail, one of Kentucky’s oldest Rails to Trails. A grand old hotel now serves as a charming bed and breakfast. Local cyclists have found a welcoming rest stop in Park City. A soon to be certified Dark Sky city, Park City will offer a one-of-a-kind type of nightlife for star gazers.