Camping In Daniel Boone National Forest
View from Tater Knob in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky, USA.
Boone National Forest offers many areas for all kinds of campers, from RVs to tents. RVs can find sites within three areas of the park: Cumberland, London Ranger, and Sterns. There are many areas for campground camping as well, and the range of amenities varies, so do some research before picking a site. Campgrounds are in the same three districts as RV camping plus the Sheltowee Trace District. Cabins are available in the Cumberland District for those who want a bit more comfort.
Daniel Boone National Forest Waives Recreation Fees On National Get Outdoors Day
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In time with the celebration of National Get Outdoors Day, Daniel Boone National Forest is waiving recreation fees on Saturday, June 11.
As per a report, fees will not be collected at forest-operated recreational sites on Saturday, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Forest Service. The waiver doesnt apply to concession-operated sites and reserve group-use areas.
Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor H. Scott Ray said that the National Get Outdoors Day was designed to allow both experienced outdoor enthusiasts and newcomers to explore the public lands, Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor H. Scott Ray said.
I hope that our visitors take this opportunity to explore a new trail or enjoy a new activity on the Forest, he said.
No recreation fee is required on Saturday, June 11, at the following locations:
- Cave Run Lake all boat ramps outside of developed campgrounds
- Laurel River Lake all boat ramps outside of developed campgrounds
- Bee Rock Boat Ramp Laurel County
- Clear Creek Boat Ramp Bath County
- Billy Branch Day Use Picnic Area Rowan County
- Natural Arch Scenic Area McCreary County
- Appletree Shooting Range McCreary County
- Keno Shooting Range Pulaski County
- Whitman Branch Shooting Range Laurel County
- Redbird Crest Trail Clay and Leslie counties
- White Sulphur OHV Trail Bath County
Camping fees are waived for Saturday evening, June 11, at the following locations:
Go Horse Camping At Barren Fork Horse Camp
Horse camping might be one of the unique experiences you can try in Daniel Boone National Forest.
Horseback riders seeking an outdoor, overnight experience can stay at Barren Fork Horse Camp in Stearns District, one of the forests four designated horse camping areas.
Barren Fork Horse Camp is a favorite horse campground with multiple interconnecting riding trails in a forest setting.
A neighboring pond offers fishing opportunities, and a picnic shelter is accessible for group use.
The Barren Fork Horse Camp was initially the location of a coal-mining town under the Barren Fork Mining and Coal Company, which operated from 1881 to 1935.
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Hawk Creek Valley Suspension Bridge Trail
Hawk Creek Valley Suspension Bridge Trail crosses over Hawk Creek, which is generally well-stocked with various fish species. The trail is highly trafficked and worth it to view the amazing overlooks, 100-foot suspension bridge, and several waterfalls. The route of the trail has an elevation gain of about 560 feet. Pets are allowed on the trail.
Length: 3.8 miles
Best Places To Camp In Daniel Boone National Forest
Camp Kentucky had a chance to connect with Kimberly to talk about the Daniel Boone National Forest. She gave us some insights on the huge park from recreation activities to the best places to camp in Daniel Boone National Forest.
Get To Know Daniel Boone National Forest
When was the Daniel Boone National Forest FoundedThe Daniel Boone National Forest was founded in 1937. It was originally named the Cumberland National Forest but was renamed in 1966 after the adventurous frontiersman who explored most of Kentucky. As a national forest , Daniel Boone Forest is spread across 21 counties of eastern Kentucky. The 708,000 acres of national forest land are intermingled with state and private land in these counties, which significantly increases tourism/economic opportunities for local communities.
What are the most popular activities in the forestThere are so many recreational activities and opportunities at Daniel Boone National Forest. Camping, hiking, and fishing are just a few of the many popular activities. The forest has more than 600 miles of trail that are managed for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and off-highway vehicle use in designated sections. Swimming and boating in the numerous rivers, lakes and streams through out the park is also popular. Many people come to walk around the forest for all of the nature viewing from thousands of plants to the abundant wildlife and breathtaking scenery.
London Ranger District
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Boone & The Cumberland Gap: A Brief History
Daniel Boone at the Cumberland Gap
The Transylvania Company hired Daniel Boone in 1775. His job was to widen a gap through the Appalachian mountains in what is today Kentucky and Virginia. There are only five natural ways to travel to the west one of those is the Cumberland Gap in the four-state region of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The widening of this gap would make the western portion of the continent much more accessible and open to settlement.
Boone started his trip on March 10, 1775 with 35 axmen. They began cutting a trail from Long Island in Kingsport, Tennessee through the forests and mountains to Kentucky, land which the Transylvania Company had obtained from the Cherokee and Iroquois in the area. However, the Shawnee attacked the explorers, killing a number of Boones men. The remaining men, along with Boone, fought off the attack and finished their task of widening the route through the mountains in that area. One of the first English-speaking settlements west of the Appalachians, Fort Boonesborough, was set up by Boone and his men on the other side of the Gap.
Biking Around Daniel Boone National Forest
Riding a bicycle along State Highways 77 and 715, which go through the Red River Gorge Geological Area, provides one of the best ways to view this portion of the forest.
The Red River Gorge Geological Area is unique in that it is an area that transitions from the northern and southern ecosystems.
Bikers can also go along the Sheltowe Trace from Hwy 192 to Laurel Lake Dam, which his just a nine-mile trip one-way.
Some off-road trails include the Ned Branch Trail and Lakeside South Loop. These trails, when combined with the Twin Branch Trail, make up a seven-mile loop. The trail goes through the forest and features some stretches along the cliff-line.
Off-road trails on logging roads arent promoted by the Daniel Boone National Forest but do offer some extreme riding for experienced cyclists.
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Hiking In Daniel Boone National Forest
With more than 500 miles of developed trails, the Daniel Boone National Forest offers ample opportunities for visitors of all skill levels and interests. Scaling cliff surfaces and rappelling off the face of a mountain isnt necessary when exploring the forest.
The Sheltowee Trace National Recreational Trails allows for visitors to explore the entirety of the forest. It runs 254 miles from the northern tip of the forest throughout all kinds of terrain including through canyons, over mountaintops, along river and lakes, and past many cliffs.
Developed recreational areas can be found along the trail so that hikers have the option of camping in the forest with the convenience of modern facilities.
This trail also links to other trail systems in what is known as the Red River Gorge Geological Area, Cave Run Lake, Cumberland Falls State Park, Laurel River Lake, and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.
Another popular trail is the Natural Arch Trail. This is located in the Somerset District and features a 60 by 100-foot sandstone opening. Then there is the Nathan McClure Trail, which takes hikers on a scenic walk along Lake Cumberland. There are several other trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest that appeal to everyone from families to die-hard hikers.
Rock Climb At Red River Gorge
The Red River Gorge is one of the best outdoor rock climbing destinations in the United States.
Climbers from other countries visit this sandstone mecca of spectacular rock formations, such as high cliffs and sandstone arches.
The Red also offers hiking opportunities with roughly 500 miles of trails that wind through rocky terrains.
Outdoor enthusiasts visit the gorge all year to enjoy not just climbing and hiking but also camping, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and other recreation activities.
With so many areas, routes, and things to do at The Red, you might feel youre barely scratching the surface.
The Red River Gorge offers family-friendly accommodations with their lovely cabins and breathtaking treehouses for more extended and more comfortable stays.
The Red River Gorge is federally designated as a National Geological Area, National Archaeological District, and a National Natural Landmark.
It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Image from The Dyrt camper Shari G.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is in the Daniel Boone National Forest, on the shores of the Cumberland River. There are two campgrounds to choose from, with sites for tents and RVs. Amenities include electric and water hookups, Wi-Fi, laundry, flush toilets, showers, and a general store. Both campgrounds put you front and center to the parks resort-style comforts: the lodge, visitor center, cafe, pool, tennis courts, and dance pavilion. You can fish the river for bass, hike the 17 miles of trails, or mine for gems. And dont forget to admire the parks main feature, Cumberland Falls. Cumberland Falls is a great place to appreciate stunning natural phenomena while enjoying outdoor recreation.
Seeing Cumberland falls was a first for us and we were in awe! Would have loved to seen the legendary moonbow but we had to make our way on the trail for our backpacking trip. Followed along the river almost our entire trip and found some wonderful spots to camp and relax. Only spotted one snake along the trail. Was well marked until we got a few miles in then it got a little tricky but only adds a little more to the fun! Megan D.
How To Get There
Interstate 75 and Interstate 64 pass through Daniel Boone National Forest. Watch for brown signs denoting the various exits to state parks and recreation areas.
For Red River Gorge, take I-64 East to Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway , then exit at Slade . For Cumberland Falls, take I-75 to Cumberland Falls Highway . The Natural Arch Scenic Area is located in Southern Kentucky off of US 27. Cave Run Lake is 1.5 hours east of Lexington, accessible from I-64.
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See The Cumberland Falls
Cumberland Falls is heaven for outdoor enthusiasts, with 17 miles of hiking trails winding through the parks scenic areas.
Located in Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Cumberland Falls is Kentuckys largest waterfall.
It stretches 125 feet wide and rises 69 feet tall, dubbed the Niagara of the South.
Cumberland Falls is beautiful during the day, but it comes alive at night a few times a month.
The falls mist creates an enchanting moonbow , the only moonbow in the western hemisphere.
It only appears on a clear night during a full moon.
Unlike many other Kentucky State Parks, Cumberland Falls is accessible 24 hours a day to allow hikers to see the moonbow.
The Moonbow Trail, which connects to many backpacking trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest, is long and arduous so prepare for a challenge.
There are alternative options to see the waterfalls, such as the Cumberland Falls Trail, a half-mile long trail, the most popular route with excellent views of the Cumberland River.
Best Things To Do In Daniel Boone National Forest Ky
The Daniel Boone National Forest is one of those fantastic places to spend days without running out of things to do.
Established in 1937, this national forest in Kentucky encompasses 708,000 acres of federally owned territory within a proclamation boundary of 2,100,000 acres.
Formerly known as the Cumberland National Forest, the forests name was changed in 1966 to honor Daniel Boone.
He was an explorer, pioneer of early American history, and founding father of Kentucky.
The Daniel Boone National Forest stretches across 21 counties in Kentucky, with four ranger districts, namely Cumberland, London, Redbird, and Stearns.
The forests terrain is mainly rocky, with numerous visible water features home to various flora and fauna, including reservoirs and major rivers.
All of these bodies of water flow into the Ohio River.
The park also has smaller streams that only flow after heavy rain.
Daniel Boone National Forest is a famous recreational and tourist attraction that serves a million or more visitors each year, with plenty of places to stay, hike, bike, climb, do water activities, and more.
Here are the best things to do at the Daniel Boone National Forest:
Van Hook Falls And Cane Creek Valley
This trail enters the primitive Cane Creek Wildlife Management Area, descending to gorgeous Cane Creek with its huge rock slab formations. Then, it veers north past Cane Creek to reach Van Hook Falls. Along the trail are rock formations, sandstone bluffs, and waterfalls. The waterfalls along the pathway tend to flow with more current after a good rain, but that also means it will most likely be muddy.
Length: 5.7 miles
Hiking Biking & Climbing Galore
Of course, Daniel Boone National Forest is a great place to go for any of the mainstays of outdoor recreation. The forest boasts more than 600 miles of trails ideal for both day hiking and backpacking, plus year-round bike friendly roads, and sandstone cliffs that climbers fawn over. Considering the sheer size of the forest, youd be hard pressed to have the same experience each time you go. Every visit is a new adventure, no matter your outdoor recreation preference.
There are a few trails and excursions that stand out above the rest. The Sky Bridge Trail in the Red River Gorge section of the park is short and sweet, but includes views that will stop you in your tracks. The trail is a one-mile loop thats family and dog friendly since much of it is paved. For a path less traveled, try the Rock Bridge Trail. Its a 1.4-mile hike thats rated as moderate but is actually quite easy. The trail is accessible year round and takes visitors past waterfalls.
Bikers are sure to find a challenge in the park. The majority of the trails were originally designed for hiking only, resulting in several narrow and steep sections. But many of the designated biking trails are shared trails. Among these that are less used by non-bikers, is Section 16 of the larger Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail. This section is entirely roadway, which means it provides a more bike-centric trail experience.
Originally written by RootsRated for Kentucky Tourism.
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An Insider’s Guide To Daniel Boone National Forest
Its one of those wonderful places that you stumble upon, spend an entire day exploring and enjoying and leave wondering how youd never previously heard of it. The national forest is one of those great spots hidden in plain sight. It spans more than two million acres and 21 counties, yet many people dont know it exists. Read on for the big reveal, as well as tips and tricks from an insider.
Paddle At The Cumberland River
The Cumberland River, which runs through the Daniel Boone National Forest, offers excellent water rafting and canoeing opportunities.
The river is divided into two sections: Upper Cumberland River and Lower Cumberland River.
The Upper Cumberland River runs 17 miles, with most sections rated Class I and II rapids, excellent for advanced beginner skill levels.
The put-in location begins from Redbird Bridge and ends 200 yards above Cumberland Falls, where paddlers must take out immediately to avoid getting carried over the falls.
The Lower Cumberland River, also called Cumberland River below the Falls runs 11.6 miles with sections rated as Class III and several challenging rapids.
This is one of the few whitewater sections of the river that runs all year round, but the best runs are during late summer and early fall.
The put-in location begins from the sandy beach of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park and ends in the Mouth of Laurel Boat Ramp.
This section of the Cumberland River can take four to six hours to paddle, best suited for intermediate and advanced paddlers.
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Fish At Lake Cumberland
The construction of Wolf Creek Dam on the Cumberland River in 1952 created what would become Lake Cumberland.
Lake Cumberland, dubbed The Houseboat Capital of the World, is a haven for water lovers in a landlocked state.
It is the ninth-largest reservoir in the United States and one of Kentuckys most popular vacation destinations.
The reservoir, which provides flood control and hydroelectric power generation, now has over 50,000 acres of waterways and over 1,000 miles of shoreline.
Lake Cumberland features some of the best fishing spots in the state.
It hosts national competitions where anglers hope to catch various species, including trout, black and white crappie, sturgeon, walleye, and striped bass.
How Big Is Daniel Boone National Forest
Daniel Boone National Forest, originally called Cumberland National Forest, encompasses 708,000 acres and 21 counties in southern and eastern Kentucky. Its somewhat interesting that the national forest was ultimately named after the famous frontiersman, Daniel Boone, seeing as how he was born and spent his childhood in states other than Kentucky. Moreover, he didnt particularly care for the coonskin cap that history inevitably placed on his head. Nevertheless, the name of the forest was changed in 1966 in honor of the explorer.
Canadian writer and expert on Boone, Alix Hawley, wrote about Dans life, holding it up as the classic American belief that paradise was just beyond the next mountain, with the constant desire to pick up and move on. Dan never really stopped exploring through North Carolina and the Blue Ridge mountains, and later his wife and children into the Kentucky wilderness of his fantasies, Hawley says. Daniel Boone died of natural causes in Missouri at his home when he was 85. His body was exhumed and re-buried in Kentucky 20 years later.
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