Overview. Bork and I started our backpacking trip at the Northern Terminus of the Sheltowee Trace, Kentucky’s longest trail. To get there, we dropped Bork’s car at Archaic in Red River Gorge and had Rat shuttle us up to the trailhead. The goal for the day was to make camp on the ridgeline at the first available site - right at a mile up the trail.
Route Type | Point-to-Point
Total Distance | 1 mile
Overall Difficulty | Moderate
Sheltowee Trace Section 1 Info from USDA Forest Service
Sheltowee Trace Map from USDA Forest Service
*Note: the Sheltowee Trace has undergone a number of reroutes since the Forest Service map’s publication.
Trailhead. The trailhead for the Northern Terminus is a shortish drive north of Morehead off of KY-377/Cranston Road. The trailhead area is more sparse than we anticipated with no restrooms or trash cans, but we were fresh from the city, so not bother. [map]
Trail navigation. This opening mile is easy to navigate by following the Sheltowee Trace blazes - a turtle on a white diamond.
Water. There is a small stream with unknown reliability steps away from the trailhead. It’s best to have all the water you need prior to starting this section, as once the ridgeline is gained, there is no water for 9+ miles without bushwhacking down to a stream below. I carried 80 oz. onto the trail, and it was just enough for each day.
Story. We arrived at the trailhead at about 7:30 pm, so finding a campsite was the sole priority. On our way up the ridgeline, a turtle greeted us. This was very fitting, as Sheltowee is the name given by Native Americans to Daniel Boone and means ‘big turtle’ - presumably because Boone was tall and regularly carried a backpack. As luck would have it, we’d be greeted by a turtle each day of our trip.
After gaining the ridgeline, we found a number of no trespassing signs posted (pictured below). If you look closely at the last legible line, you’ll have a nice laugh if you’ve seen the movie:-) It is private property east of the trail for most of Sheltowee Trace Section 1, so be sure to respect property boundaries.
Once we made camp, we strung up our food bags a good ways down the trail since this is a Bear Aware area. We bedded down at dark - Bork in his Eno hammock and me in my Alps Mountaineering tent. Also, unless you need a fire for warming or drying, skip it.