Overview. Pine Mountain Trail is an ideal place for anyone new to backpacking. It's a lightly traveled trail with outstanding shelters every 8 to 12 miles. It's also among the best places in Kentucky to warm-up for Appalachian Trail section hiking with plenty of elevation change to challenge your legs.
Beyond the backpacking experience, the trail offers a series of spectacular views thanks to rock outcroppings that are clear of trees. This is a ridge-top hike, so be sure to carry extra water during hot days. We hiked this during a heat advisory and were fortunate that Adena Spring was still flowing.
Trailhead. There are very few roads that cross Pine Mountain and US-23 is a big one. You'll find the trailhead located southwest of the Marathon gas station at Pound Gap. Please park away from regular customer parking in the out lots to the side and rear of the building. AND, checkout their pimento cheese sandwich - my favorite lunch when in the area.
Trail navigation. Of all the trails I've hiked in Kentucky, this is the best marked of them all. It's difficult to imagine getting lost on this trail because blazes are plentiful, directional blazes appear at intersections, and point of interest signs abound. Plus, the Pine Mountain Trail Conference provides an excellent map linked above. Once at the trailhead, follow along Pine Mountain's ridge line southwest until you reach the southern terminus.
CAUTION - CLIFFS. There are many cliffs along this trail and while they're not the shear drops that are commonly found in Red River Gorge, for example, they are just as dangerous. In particular, the rock outcroppings that provide spectacular views can be very slippery when wet. Take care with your steps and stay away from cliffs' edges.
CAUTION - BEARS. We came across five black bears while on this hike. Be sure to take all bear safety precautions to protect yourself and these beautiful animals. Shelters have bear poles for food storage - use them.