The Sheltowee Trace Association
A 501c(3) non-profit formed to protect, preserve and promote the Sheltowee Trace National Recreational Trail as a significant national resource for the enjoyment of hikers, bikers and equestrians, and for the value that wild and scenic lands provide to all people.
Discover and Enjoy Kentucky's Long Trail
Sheltowee Trace Association, 63 Burtonville Rd., Tollesboro, Ky. 41189 Phone: 606-584-7744
Historical Background on The Daniel Boone National Forest and The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Established in 1937, the Daniel Boone National Forest is the only national forest completely within the boundary of Kentucky. The Daniel Boone National Forest is located along the Cumberland Plateau in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky. The forest encompasses over 707,000 acres of mostly rugged terrain. The land is characterized by steep forested ridges dissected by narrow ravines and over 3,400 miles of sandstone cliffs.
Over 600 miles of trails provide a quiet escape to more remote places within the forest. Hikers, horse-back riders and other trail users get back to nature along the 302-mile Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail that extends the entire length of the Daniel Boone. Hundreds of miles of winding rivers and streams provide the finishing touch in outdoor experiences.
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area was created in 1974 when President Richard Nixon signed into law the establishment of the Park. The new law directed the Corps of Engineers to acquire land for the park and build the facilities before turning the park over to the National Park Service for administration.
Formed by the confluence of the New River and the Clear Fork, the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River (called Big South Fork River for short) is a major tributary of the Cumberland River, which is itself a tributary of the Ohio River. Because the Big South Fork gathers runoff from an extensive rainy area lying more than 1,000 feet above sea level, it has a steep gradient and plenty of flow. Long stretches of the river are sufficiently constricted, steep, and rapids-filled to offer outstanding whitewater canoeing and kayaking.
Families will delight in the park’s hiking trails, which wind past homesteads, bluffs, arches, overlooks, and the river. Horseback riders take to the more than 200 miles of horse trails in the area, and river rats flock to Big South Fork each spring and fall. Mountain bikers are welcome to use Big South Fork’s three bikes-only trails as well as most horse paths. Rock climbing and rappelling are also favorite activities.
The Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail
Conceived by Forest Service employee, Verne Orndorff and completed in 1979, The Sheltowee Trace is a 302- mile trail spanning the length of the Daniel Boone National Forest and deep into the heart of the Big South Fork, offers unparalleled opportunities for outdoor recreation. Open to hiking its entire length, and by sections for horesback riding and mountain biking, the Trace passes through beautiful, rugged and remote landscapes as well as by unique geological and cultural features.
The Sheltowee Trace is a National Recreation Trail and is named after Daniel Boone, who was given the name “Sheltowee” by Chief Blackfish when he was adopted into the Shawnee tribe. Sheltowee translates to “Big Turtle”, so a white turtle symbol has been used to mark the trail.
In addition to the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Big South Fork National Park, sections of the Trace cross Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Natural Bridge State Resort Park and through some sections of private property. The southern terminus of the trail as of January 1, 2013 is located at the Leatherwood Trail Head in the Big South Fork National Park. The northern terminus of the trail is located just of Route 377 or Cranston Road in Rowan County north east of Morehead, Ky.
Some sections of the trail follow or pass near historic trails that would have been familiar to Boone, such as the Wilderness Road and the Warrior’s Path, and many creeks and other landmarks crossed by the trail retain the names bestowed upon them by Boone and other early explorers of Kentucky.
Waterfalls, arches, panoramic ridge-top views and massive sandstone cliffs can all be found within a few miles of each other on the Sheltowee Trace. Whitewater rivers and calm, clear creeks shaded by majestic trees are crossed by the trail. The Trace also passes by Cave Run and Laurel River Lakes.
In every season, the Trace allows users the ability to enjoy the wonders of nature.