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Leaf Peeping Drives


The mountains are beautiful in every season but fall is an especially colorful time to hit the backroads and enjoy a drive. Here are a few of our favorite routes to view the fall foliage. Always remember to be cautious of road conditions and to keep an eye out for the occasional deer, elk, or bear.



LADEN TRAIL: Hwy 2010 (also known as Laden Trail) is just over 5 miles of curves and switchbacks making its way across Pine Mountain. You'll travel through Kentenia State Forest, Kentucky's oldest state owned forest. You'll also see the unmistakable Rebel Rock rising dramatically toward the sky. You can access this road from the northside of Pine Mountain via Hwy 221 or from the southside along Hwy 119. For more informaiton on Laden Trail click here.

LITTLE SHEPHERD TRAIL: Little Shepherd Trail is a 38 mile narrow road extending from 119 near Whitesburg to 421 near Harlan. It follows the crest of Pine Mountain. Portions of the route are paved but others are primitive. Four wheel drive is recommended for drivers who plan to travel the entire length. See how many of Pine Mountain's 58 native tree species you can identify as you enjoy the forest around you. You'll be rewarded with stunning mountain overlooks as you pass through both Kentenia State Forest and Kingdom Come State Park along the way. This trail is open to vehicles but also welcomes hiking, biking, and horseback riding so be sure to share the road.

KENTUCKY 160: Start in the historic city of Lynch, Kentucky and follow Kentucky 160 to the highest peak in Kentucky! The 7 mile stretch leads you up Black Mountain around twists and turns before delivering you to the peak. Your drive ends at the Kentucky Virginia state line 4,144 feet above sea level. This drive is a portion of the Dragon Slayer Hwy 160. Expect to encounter motorcycles and sports cars enjoying the Dragon Slayer's 226 curves!

KENTUCKY 987: This highway snakes upward through a tunnel before passing by the Martins Fork Dam and on to the Martins Fork Lake. Not only can you enjoy the changing leaves on the trees but you can also see them reflected in the waters of the lake along the shoreline. Make time to snap some photos of the mirror effect. Continue on past the lake and keep an eye out to the left as the rock formation known as Castle Rock will come into view.

KENTUCKY 522: Known locally as "the old road", 522 runs from Baxter to Cumberland parallelling 119. Brightly colored trees tower on both sides of the road creating a foliage tunnel in several places. The drive is approximately 20 miles long but intersects Laden Trail so visitors can join multiple routes together for an even longer tour.

These are just a few fall suggestions. Help us by dropping even more routes in the comments so that fall can be enjoyed by all!



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Harlan County Outdoor Recreation Board Authority - (606) 837-3205 - info@harlancountytrails.com
Harlan Tourist & Convention Commission- (606) 573-4495 - harlancenter@harlanonline.net
Cumberland Tourist & Convention Commission - (606) 589-5812 - ctourism@windstream.net
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