Photo courtesy of Paul Hopkins
A Road Well Worth Traveling
The Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail is a linear state park still under development. Once completed, the long distance trail designed for primitive camping, backpacking and hiking, will span approximately 120 miles from Breaks Interstate Park to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and pass through many natural areas such as Bad Branch State Nature Preserve, Kingdom Come State Park and Blanton Forest along the Pine Mountain range. The trail will be a means for showcasing the wild highlands and conserving the natural and cultural heritage of Appalachia for future generations.
Bringing It All Together
The Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail will also be utilized as a segment of the proposed Great Eastern Trail that will link existing trails in the Appalachian Mountains into a new, long distance trail stretching ultimately from Alabama to New York. Due to its location in more remote areas of the Appalachians, hikers will have a more primitive backcountry experience, providing an alternative to the relatively crowded Appalachian Trail.
Trail head locations have or soon will have kiosks with maps and information about the Pine Mountain Trail.
Birch Knob Section
Currently a contiguous trail from Breaks Interstate Park to US 119 is designated in two sections. The section from Breaks to US 23 is the Birch Knob section and totals 28 miles. In Pike County, Kentucky, the Birch Knob trail head is located in Elkhorn City at the end of Carson Island road in front of Elkhorn City Hall.
The US 23 - US 119 is named the Highlands section and totals 16 miles for a total of 44 miles. Construction has not yet passed beyond US 119. However, if hikers wish to do so, they can hike on the Little Shepherd Trail (LST). The Highland Section begins on US 23 toward US 119 on top of Pine Mountain.
Little Shepherd Trail
The Trail Head for the Little Shepherd trail begins near the Kingdom Come State Park and continues for another 38 miles from US 119 to US 421. The LST is a narrow, 1 1/2 lane blacktop road open to vehicular traffic, though lightly traveled. From US 119 to Kingdom Come State Park is 14 miles where primitive camping and water is available. There is a Kiosk in Kingdom Come State Park toward US 119.
Two trail shelters can be found along the Highlands section for use by backpackers. The shelters are simple, open wood structures with bunks and table, meant to serve as a dry place to rest along your journey. Shelters can accommodate up to 12 backpackers, and are designed to be shared use facilities.
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