Updated: Aug 25, 2021
The KAT is the premier overland route in Kentucky. The Kentucky Adventure Tour is the perfect amalgamation of Appalachia with its quaint towns and villages, scenic rivers, and dense forests.
Adventure Rating: Baja
Trip Length: 933 miles, 7-14 days
Season: Year round, but Spring - Fall recommended.
Technical Rating: Mostly green, blue on the alternative "hard trails".
Typical Terrain: 60% gravel and dirt roads, 40% paved backroads.
Recommended Vehicle: Truck/SUV w/ 4x4 and AT tires.
Adventure Vans: Sprinter 4x4s should be able to handle the majority of the main route. There are some sections with low hanging branches that may make passage for high roof Sprinters more difficult.
Alternative Routes: Yes! See bottom of route details for info.
The Kentucky Adventure Tour is a 900+ mile loop (not counting the hard sections) around the hills and mountains of southeastern Kentucky. It is about 40% rural narrow twisty paved roads with the rest being gravel, dirt roads and trails. The route can be run in either direction, and you may choose to start at any location you like. Most adventurers tend to do portions of the route, but we recommend doing the entire track if you want to experienced Authentic Kentucky.
KAT Segment 1 (254 mi) Segment 1 travels from the Hindman area to just outside of the small village of Livingston. Much of this section of the route travels through the Daniel Boone National Forest, which contains numerous campgrounds and side trails to explore. The Red River Gorge Geological Area is definitely worth visiting, and provides numerous swimming, fishing, and boating opportunities. KAT Segment 2 (242 mi) Segment 2 travels from the Livingston to Newcomb, and also traverses through the Daniel Boone National Forest. The route also passes through the 125,000 acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Segments 1 and 2 of the KAT both provide numerous recreational opportunities, especially those involving water (boating, swimming, fishing, etc). KAT Segment 3 (215 mi)
Segment 3 passes through a combination of forest service roads and county roads and byways. This section does pass through the Cumberland Gap area, but recreational opportunities are fewer compared to segments 1 and 2, although we definitely recommend checking out Pineville Overlook and Chain Rock.
KAT Segment 4 (222 mi) This section of the route begins in the Clintwood, VA area, and makes it's way back across the Kentucky border and concludes near Hueysville. This segment travels primarily through county roads and byways. Please be mindful of private property, as dispersed camping opportunities on this segment will be far and few between.
The route features numerous "hard trails" along the route. If you're looking for something bit more technical and challenging, then you'll want to check these out!
Dispersed camping is permitted in various areas within Daniel Boone National Forest. We encourage adventurers to take advantage of the exquisite wild camping, where permitted.
DP1 - Southfork Elk view
DP2 - North Fork Kentucky River
DP3 - Nada Tunnel
DP4 - Red River Gorge Geological Area
DP5 - Red River Jump Rock
DP6 - Wildcat Battle Monument
DP7 - Natural Arches
DP8 - Laurel River Lake
DP9 - Dog Slaughter Falls
DP10 - Wagon Arch
DP11 - Yamacraw Historic Bridge
DP12 - Princess Falls
DP13 - Twin Arches
DP14 - Pickett Fire Tower
DP15 - Oscar Blevins Historic Farmstead
DP16 - East Rim Overlook
DP17 - Pineville Overlook
DP18 - Cumberland Gap
DP19 - Pinnacle Overlook
DP20 - Hensley Settlement
DP21 - Black Mountain
DP22 - Birch Knob Observation Tower
DP23 - Mill Rock Point Overlook
Maps + Navigation
>> Always check with local land managers for road closures and conditions.
Gaia GPS (Neotreks Land Use layer, Gaia base layer)
Download GPX files
TIP: To expose alternative routes and points of interest in Google Maps, open the sidebar and select the desired layer.