Ready for some adventure? Discover all sorts of outdoor activities and awe-inspiring landscapes by visiting Kentucky Trail Towns. From high-adrenaline adventures to family-friendly activities, Kentucky’s 28 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 Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park — excellent for camping and mountain biking. Lake Beshear 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. With access to Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail and multiple horse camps, you’ll discover endless adventure here.
The Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail, running right through downtown Morehead, and the shores of Cave Run Lake highlight this Trail Town’s outdoor offerings. Trails for mountain bikers and equestrians welcome all kinds of explorers. Stop by a local brewery or eatery to round out your experience.
This historical eastern Kentucky town sits on the banks of Tygart Creek and is 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 National Recreation Trail that runs just outside of town.
Stearns 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, offering almost unlimited adventures in and around town. Thrilling whitewater and a growing community of trail runners are just some of the features.
The easternmost Trail Town sits on the border of Virginia and is home to Breaks Interstate Park. Explore one of the deepest gorges east of the Mississippi River, Breaks Gorge, 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 U.S. Bike Route 76 also 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 a variety of 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 too.
Cumberland, Lynch and Benham 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 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 unique destination along U.S. Bike Route 76 and the Boone Trace Trail.
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 locals are just part of what makes Columbia such a special place to visit.
Royalton’s claim to fame is the halfway point of Kentucky’s longest Rails-to-Trail development, 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 National Recreation Trail and U.S. Bike Route 76. In addition to these major trail systems, there are campgrounds and trails for equestrians and off-road vehicles.
On the banks of the Green River in Hart County sits Munfordville. Along with paddling and well-kept local hiking trails, Munfordville has made a name for itself as a home for elite, competitive barbecue and a place where you might 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 eats. Anchored by Mammoth Cave National Park, there are miles of trails, local cycling routes, caves and even zip line experiences.
This southern Kentucky town is a jumping-off point for visitors coming to Green River Lake State Park and its namesake reservoir. Here, you’ll find mountain biking trails and equestrian trails, as well as plenty of water sports and excellent fishing opportunities. Make sure to allow enough time to enjoy all downtown has to offer, including local barbecue, a coffee shop and a full-service bike shop.
Hazard is home to U.S. 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 at Perry County Park.
Estill Twin Cities
Irvine and Ravenna are historic river and railroad towns in beautiful Estill County. The Kentucky River highlights current outdoor adventures. Stop in town for railroad history, attractions and plenty of local eateries, too.
Another gateway to Mammoth Cave, Brownsville also provides access to Nolin Lake State Park. Mountain biking and paddling are popular activities for both visitors and locals alike. Make time to visit the local farmers market while you’re here.
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 complement their long list of trails and parks. Local restaurants, museums and bourbon bars headline a list of attractions in this central Kentucky Trail Town.
Downstream from other Trail Towns on the Green River lies Morgantown. Several river-focused events highlight the calendar, and a scenic downtown offers an artist guild and local businesses worth a visit.
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 projects. A grand old hotel now serves as a charming bed and breakfast. Local cyclists have found a welcoming rest stop in Park City. Stargazers will find one-of-a-kind type of nightlife at Mammoth Cave National Park, a certified International Dark Sky Park.
In Livermore, paddle Rough River and Green River or explore one of three new bike routes. This western Kentucky Trail Town places you near some of the state’s most iconic Bluegrass attractions. Consider visiting the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro and the Bill Monroe’s Homeplace in Rosine.
With access to the Cumberland River and Dale Hollow Lake, you’ll find an abundance of boating, paddling and fishing experiences in Burkesville. Explore Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park for camping, hiking, horseback riding, golf and wildlife viewing. The area is also a favorite among motorcycle enthusiasts, boasting more than 100 miles of scenic routes.
Hyden sits on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River in southeastern Kentucky. Plan a day on the river or explore the Biggerstaff Trails. You’ll also find ATV and OHV riders from near and far on the trails of the Leslie County Off-Road System.
With outdoor offerings, including fishing Lake Liberty, water trail access on the Green River and hiking and biking opportunities on the Shut in Road Trail, Lake Liberty Trail System and Liberty Island Trail, this south-central Kentucky city is teeming with outdoor fun. Schedule your visit around an upcoming event at the Central Kentucky Ag Expo.