We believe autumn belongs to Appalachia! After enjoying these scenic drives this fall, you’ll know why!
Little Shepherd Trail- This 38 mile trail carries you along the ridgeline of Pine Mountain connecting 421 near Harlan to 119 near Whitesburg. With Kingdom Come State Park situated along the way, you’ll have great opportunities to enjoy thick forests, mountain overlooks, and local wildlife. The trail is a favorite with everyone from off-road enthusiasts to rally car racers because of the diversity in road conditions. While the section from 421 to Kingdom Come State Park is primitive and 4 wheel drive might be needed in spots, the section from Kingdom Come State Park to 119 is paved and suitable for all vehicles.
Dragon Slayer Hwy 160- Begin in the historic city of Lynch at the Dragon Slayer Hwy 160 Welcome Center and ascend to the summit of Kentucky’s highest peak: Black Mountain. The route is a favorite among motorcycle groups and car clubs due to the curvy climb. With towering trees all around, the route really shines in fall. For visitors searching for a spooky vibe this fall, Black Mountain is the scene for several local legends including the story of Headless Annie and Joe Christian.
Laden Trail- The push for Laden Trail was spearheaded by the founders of Pine Mountain Settlement School who saw the need for a road connecting their remote campus to the nearest railroad. The road is only a few miles from 522 at Putney to 221 on the northside of Pine Mountain. Despite the short distance, the dramatic curves make it a slow drive, perfect for someone hoping to enjoy fall foliage. While the road is narrow, it is paved and suitable for any type of vehicle. Along the way, you’ll travel through Kentucky’s first state forest: Kentenia State Forest. You’ll also see Rebel Rock, an impressive rock outcropping soaring 100 ft. in the air. If Laden Trail inspires you to take a longer drive, the trail intersects Little Shepherd Trail so you can extend your tour!
Hwy 987- This over 30 mile highway connects 119 in Bell County to 421 near Cawood in Harlan County. The highlight of the drive is the Martins Fork Lake in the Smith community. Enjoy the fall foliage reflected in the 340 acre lake. Plan to bring along supplies to stop and make s’mores over a grill in the recreation area. As you go, marvel at the rock formations high atop the ridge above you.
Slope Hollow- Don’t be fooled by the road’s short distance! The way the climbs and curves across Black Mountain are a thrilling way to pass an afternoon. This connector from Cloverlick near Cumberland to Louellen on Hwy 38 is a rugged and remote drive where you’re sure to encounter wildlife and colorful trees. With few homes and businesses along this route, visitors should only travel in reliable vehicles.
No matter where you drive, the beauty of fall in Harlan County will be evident all around you. stop by one of the tourism offices in our community to let a professional help plan the route that best suits you!