Starting Point: The Pine Mountain Trail has already become the most famous hiking trail in our region and it's not even finished yet. It is well on its way to becoming Kentucky's signature trail. Eventually, it will stretch from the Breaks Interstate Park all the way along the ridge of Pine Mountain to Pine Mountain State Resort Park. From there, a little leg of the trail will connect to Tennessee's Cumberland Trail at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. In the past year, the corridor for the new trail was itself decreed a linear Kentucky State Park.
The following information will take you by road to destinations along the Pine Mountain Trail to view the abundant wildlife and natural heritage found along Kentuckys newest foot trail.
Q1 Pine Mountain State Resort Park and Kentucky Ridge Forest
(800) 325-1712. Starting Point: Starting at Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Pineville KY. Gas, lodging, and dining opportunities available there.
Is a destination for all seasons. The first KY State Park, created in 1924, has its lodge and trails embellished by beautiful rockwork crafted by stonemasons of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. Located in the heart of the KY Ridge State Forest in Kentucky's southeastern mountains, the setting of this modern resort features some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the state. The Forest is located in Bell Co. and contains 11,363 acre owned by the Ky. Division of Forestry.
Habitat and Trail info: Fire trails provide limited access to the interior of this area. The terrain is mountainous and primarily forested. There are many scenic overlooks in the area.
KY Ridge State Forest is located 5 mi. SW of Pineville on KY 190. Recreational opportunities and lodging are available at Pine Mountain State Resort Park and include 8.5 miles of self-guided trails. Hike to Chained Rock, the Hemlock Garden or various other trails with names like Honeymoon Falls, Rock Hotel, and Living Stairway.
Wildlife Viewing Opportunities: Pine Mountain State Resort Park and the surrounding Kentucky Ridge State Forest are excellent birding spots. Migrant and nesting warblers in spring and summer. You will also encounter deer, elk, fox, squirrel, raccoon, opossum, and the occasional bear.
Q2 Shillalah Creek WMA
From Pineville, take US 119 N. approximately 10 mi. to Hwy. 987, then S. to Cubage to Mill Branch-Hensley Flats Rd. (undeveloped road requires 4WD); from Hwy. 119 take Hwy. 1344 to end, turn left onto Hwy. 217, travel _ mi. to Park Service road. Gas, lodging, and dining opportunities available in nearby Pineville or Harlan, KY.
Habitat and trail info: Shillalah Creek WMA is 2,640 acres and located in Bell Co. and Harlan Co. This area of old-growth forest is an extremely rugged, steep terrain with many high cliffs. Shillalah Creek WMA is located along Brush Mountain N of Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. The area is owned by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Wildlife Viewing Opportunities: Turkey, deer, raccoon, squirrel, and grouse can be found here. Migrant and nesting warblers in spring and summer.
Q3 - Martins Fork Lake and WMA
From Pineville Start out going South on US-25E/ROBERT L. MADDON BYP/PASCAL COSTAZONA JR MEMORIAL HWY toward US-119. Turn LEFT onto US-119 and travel approx. 29 miles. Turn RIGHT onto US-421 S. Turn LEFT onto KY-72. From Harlan take US 421 to Hwy. 987, approx. 4 mi. to lake. Gas, lodging, and dining opportunities available in nearby Harlan.
Habitat and Trail info: Contains 1,394 acres in Harlan Co. Mountainous terrain, forested primarily in second growth hardwoods. There are no roads within the area.
Wildlife viewing opportunities: Grouse, squirrel, turkey, deer, elk, furbearers, and raptors can be found here. Fishing and boating are available on 340-acre Martins Fork Lake.
Q4 - Cranks Creek WMA
The area is located 15 mi. SE of Harlan on Stone Mountain Rd. (off US 421). Gas, lodging, and dining opportunities available in nearby Harlan.
Habitat and Trail info: contains 1,288 acres in Harlan Co. There are no roads within this area. Terrain is mountainous and extremely steep with long, deep hollows. The area is heavily forested, primarily in hardwoods.
Wildlife Viewing Opportunities: Squirrel, rabbit, turkey, deer, grouse, and raptors can be found here. No camping is allowed. Fishing is allowed in Herb Smith Lake. Picnicking is allowed at adjoining Stone Mountain, a scenic gorge area. Half-mile downstream of the Cranks Creek area is the 190-acre Hedrick tract (a gift from Herman Hedrick), which includes the unique wagon road tunnel at the top of Stone Mountain
Q5 Kentenia State Forest
From Harlan take US 421 N to US 119 N then take US 421 N to right on 1679 (Little Shepherd Trail) Distance: 31.2 miles Gas, lodging, and dining opportunities available in Harlan.
Habitat and trail info: This area has mountainous, steep terrain, with narrow ridge tops and numerous rock outcroppings. It is completely forested, primarily in hardwoods. Sightseeing and hiking are available on Little Shepherd Trail.
Wildlife Viewing Opportunities: Grouse, deer, elk, wild turkey, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon and fox. Migrant and nesting warblers in spring and summer.
Q6 Kingdom Come State Park
(606) 589-2479 From Kentenia State Forest continue on 1679 (Little Shepherd Trail) to Kingdom Come State Park. Distance: 18.7 miles Gas, lodging, and dining opportunities available in nearby Cumberland KY.
With an elevation of 2,700 ft., Kingdom Come State Park is the crowning jewel in the crest of Pine Mountain. Named after the popular Civil War novel, "The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come", the park preserves 1,283 acres of unspoiled wilderness. Enjoy wonderful hiking and overlooks.
Habitat and trail info: The 14 hiking trails that crisscross nearly 5 miles of rugged mountain terrain provide the opportunity to explore the park's giant rock formations and scenic overlooks. All of the trails are fairly short in length (1/8-7/8 mile) but many trail routes may be combined for hikes of varying lengths and difficulty. A trail guide publication is available at the park. Trails are open year-round.
Wildlife Viewing Opportunities: Deer and elk are abundant as well as wild turkey, raccoon, squirrel, fox, and Migrant and nesting warblers.
Q7 Bad Branch Nature Preserve
From the junction of KY 15 and US 119 S.E. of Whitesburg, follow U.S. 119 south 8.0 miles. Turn left at junction with KY 932, travel east for 2.0 miles to gravel parking area on left side of KY 932.
Initially, 435 acres of land in Letcher County were dedicated on Sept. 26, 1985, forming Bad Branch State Nature Preserve. An additional 1,088 acres, owned by The Nature Conservancy, were dedicated March 4, 1992, and a third parcel of 820 acres was dedicated September 17, 1997.
The preserve contains Bad Branch Gorge, a forested gorge on the south face of Pine Mountain. This is one of the most significant and beautiful natural areas in the state. Bad Branch, has been designated as a Kentucky Wild River.
Habitat and trail info: foot trail and bridges, 7.4 miles of trail over uneven terrain, strenuous
Wildlife Viewing Opportunities: This preserve protects the scenic beauty of the gorge and one of the largest concentrations of rare and uncommon species known in the state. The preserve also protects Kentucky's only known nesting pair of common ravens (Corvus corax),