Hike is done!

April 10, 2016

I made it to Martin’s station today and delivered the medallion. No more strange sleeping spots or cold wind.

At Cumberland Gap National Park, John and I got nothing but positive response to what we have been doing with this research. This year’s hike has not only filled in some question marks on the map but served to take the conversation to other levels. We met community leaders and others who want Boone Trace to be preserved for history’s sake and to boost the local tourism economy.

A major factor in seeing Boone Trace preserved is to have it traveled. Right now the best way to do that is to visit boonetrace1775.com and click on the header to see the interactive digital map. This map shows both a driving route (solid line) and the original path (dotted line). Pick a section and do some pioneer exploring yourself. Study the landscape and see if you can pick out that little road hidden among the hills and valleys.

Walk On,

Last Night On The Trail

I am in my last campsite before finishing my trek tomorrow. The weather promises to be 22 degrees as a low but I think I picked a good spot that will keep me warm. Although I’m in a heavily populated area I have found a wooded section with hills on both sides which conceal me. Just to the east of me is a graveyard and to the west of me is a funeral home.

Tomorrow I walk just an hour and a half and I’m in Cumberland Gap National Park. This weekend is an event where they will be unveiling a new commemorative quarter that shows Cumberland Gap. After I visit some of the booths and talk to some of the reenactors I will hike the last eight or nine miles to Wilderness Road State Park in Virginia.

The things we learned on this hike will be added to what we know about the makeup of the trail today. We have talked to community leaders, National Forest engineers, and historians who are interested in making BT available for hikers, bikers, horse riders and anyone who would like to stand on a piece of ground that played a major role in forming our country.

Boone Trace is coming alive again and I do hope you take the time to explore as much as you can.

Walk On,

Day 7 – Connecting Dots

We traveled 2 sections today that are shown on Neal Hammon’s maps but at first didn’t seem logical to be original Boone Trace. They travel up and down mountains and through gaps which seemed more difficult than lower paths in the area. After a much more critical inspection of those lower routes it is plain to see they were artificially leveled with bulldozer and dynamite.

Along Stinking Creek, north of Flat Lick, we found remnants of a road running through cattle pasture and a neighborhood, which lines up perfectly with Neal Hammon’s map.

Farther south, John, Steve and I, climbed through Pogue Hollow. It was choked with brambles and downed trees. Deer and elk tracks crisscrossed on game trails and it was prime bear country. According to Hammon’s map, it was a passage for Boone and the pioneers. Today we really have no hope of finding remnants of the trace because of extensive logging and strip mining which has completely altered the topography. Even so, it is an adventurous hike in rough and wild mountains. We know pioneers traveled between these peaks and just need to picture in our minds eye the virgin timber they walked through.

These two sections are now clearer to us and a few more dots are connected. Even though these may never be publicly offered for travel, the question marks along Boone Trace are being replaced with exclamation points.

Tomorrow our project is Log Mill Road and on to Middlesboro.

Walk On,

Yesterday’s News – Day 6 – Adding To What We Know In Laurel & Knox County

Mike and I headed out from Levi Jackson Park today and walked the roads to Happy Hollow Rd. When I did last year’s hike I missed recording this area because of no juice in the Satcom. This time I was at full power and now have the GPS data I needed.

The Happy Hollow/Boggs Lane sections are genuine Boone Trace and hope some day we see families come out to walk it for the day.

Over the past two centuries this section has seen logging and homesteads. It is on this section the first Kentucky postman was killed.

The terrain today has been brushy with brambles, but the original road is easy to see.

We were met at the other end by Steve and Doug. They are both members of the Knox Historical Society. Steve is also on the board of Friends of Boone Trace and Doug walked 16 miles last year with Givan and I.

We motored down to a few areas that have some routing questions in the Bimble area and after some mountain climbing found a new discovery. A visible road that comes out of Shy Mug Hollow through a low gap. A local land owner and life long resident pointed it out and he believes it to be genuine BT.

As for a future public path, we need to do some more research. The entire Shy Mug Hollow is owned by the Brown family who farm and ranch there. We respect their land and don’t wish to impose on them. There is historic evidence that after Boone marked his original road, settlers by passed Shy Mug Hollow to avoid the steep terrain and used the next low land feature, Trace Branch Creek, also known as Higgins Hollow.

I have no cell service so you are getting this update a day late. I am not staying at the campsite I had planned but in a small cabin on Steve’s property just off Higgins Hollow. I’ll be walking to my next night spot from here by way of another genuine BT section in Bimble. In fact it is the actual dividing point of BT and the Wilderness Road. I placed a GPS mark on the map at the exact separation point. I’ll start my SatCom in the morning to try and preserve the mark for you to see. It’s the first ping mark after the long straight line from farther north.

Three more nights and this trip is wrapping up with many new points to be added to what we know of Daniel Boone’s road into the Kentucky wilderness.

Walk On

Day 5 – This Was A Map & Newspaper Day

Day 5

This morning I woke up with a thick layer of frost inside, and outside, my tarp. The cattle pasture just outside looked like a crop duster flew over and dropped powdered sugar. I had to pull my clothes into my sleeping bag to warm them and take off the frozen crunch before I put them on. The best way to deal with crawling out into this type of environment is to do it fast and don’t stop moving till the pack is filled, on your back and your on the move.

I didn’t walk far though. I crossed through the cattle pasture with about 30 bovine eyes on me until I climbed the last gate. The next 17 miles was to be all pavement so Mike picked me up on the road and we motored the trace.

We ended up at Levi Jackson State Park and had a quick talk with a news reporter. John Fox met us at Mike’s house and we went over maps for the next few days.

So far this years hike has been less fan fare and more down to business with developing this trail for the public. The economics, trail design and legalities have been discussed with both county and town movers and shakers. In my walk I have passed some new Boone Trace historic markers and Boone Gap is closer to becoming a state recognized rest stop. All thanks to the Friends of Boone Trace.

I am being put up tonight at Mike’s house and sleeping in a real bed. We are starting out tomorrow from Levi Jackson Park.

Walk On,

Pictures from day 1 of the hike provided by author, Laura Frantz


Original Boones Trace. Mile 14 of Day 1


Otter Creek which Boone followed to Fort Boonesborough

Otter Creek which Boone followed to Fort Boonesborough

Be sure to follow my Facebook as well as the Facebook of Friends of Boone Trace for more photos of the trip

Day 4 – Pure Kentucky Wilderness

Day 3 & Thoughts from a Fellow Hiker

Day 3 – Brief Note Sent From DeLorme inReach GPS

Out of energy and out of cell service. I was met early in the day by Mike, who had walked with me the first day. We made it to the camping spot but the trip has been brutal. Too much pavement. Mike is staying the night and walking the day tomorrow. Clear skies and cool temps. Tomorrow will be forest!

Walk on,


A few pictures from Day 1 from Sharon Lane


The “Redhouse” built in 1810


Hikers: Gin, Curtis, Sharon and Mike


Curtis and Mike

Thoughts from my fellow hikers

The 1st time I heard about the Trace was last year in the Herald Leader on Given and Curtis’ first hike to Kentucky. The same year I was in the process of hiking my very first hiking/backpacking experience with the Sheltowee National Recreation Trail that runs through the Daniel Boone National Forest with the association. That was a life-changing experience and I knew I wanted to be a part of this Boone Trace trail and experience the history of Daniel Boone. I have great respect for all of those who are keeping this trail alive for our children and generations to follow. Starting at the Fort and passing by the oldest graveyard I have ever seen and walking past a home still standing from the 1800’s was like standing there back in time. Part of the trail goes through a farm and is the most actual part of the trail by Otters Creek. The land owner came to greet us on the trail and shared how the land has been his family for 200 yrs.  They fought with the Indians and the land was split and that’s how it was in the family. At that moment I could imagine how it must have been for the families and walking down the path. For me, it is more than just  a walk….its connecting with our heritage and history, connecting with wonderful people I would otherwise never have met, and most important is the support of the community along the way! I’m looking forward to getting back on trail again and keeping the dream alive!

Sharon Lane – Hiked 1st Day

Day 2 & Thoughts from One of Yesterday’s Fellow Hikers

Day 2 Begins

I’m not sure how my tarp stayed in place last night. The wind thrashed it so violently I thought I would end up sleeping with it wrapped around me to not lose it in the tree tops. It held till after midnight when things calmed. The temperature continued to drop till it got down to 23 degrees. I chilled just a little but not dangerously so. The only part of me that went numb was my face and only because I can’t sleep with it inside a stuffy bag.
I’m currently (11am) trudging down hwy 25 toward Berea. Nothing but pavement today. I have Professor Heckbert and some of his students waiting to join me for the Berea portion.

Evening of Day 2

If you’ve been watching the map today you’ll notice it went haywire. The fact is that this is more of a research and educational trip to figure out details for when it is opened to the public. Last year I insisted I walk every inch. This year, not so much. In order to meet mayors, hikers, and others I’ve hopped in Johns truck to cover some of the pavement. I actually walked most of Berea but forgot the SatCom (GPS) in the truck. So that explains the wonky points and lines.

I was met on the trail by Kerri Hensley, Tourism Director for Berea and she walked a portion of Berea with me and Gin Petty, who joined me again today. Gin walked 15 miles yesterday and from Berea to Boone Gap with me today. She is 70 yrs old and an artisan in Berea. She made her living with her craft and out walks most younger people. I’m not one to desire getting autographs and handshakes from celebrities, it’s spending time with real people like Gin that thrill me.

I’m early but setting up camp in Boone Gap tonight.

Walk On

Thoughts from My Fellow Hikers

Day 1, Boone’s Trace Hike

I followed Curtis on his initial hike in 2015 via the web and, being a Boone admirer of many years, hoped to hike Boone’s Trace in future. Yesterday, April 2, was a truly remarkable day in many ways.

As a Kentuckian, I have an avid interest in Boone, my ancestors having followed Boone into the Bluegrass in the latter 18th-century. Also, as an author, I try to incorporate as much Kentucky history in my books as possible. So yesterday, during the first few miles of hiking, several things stood out to me. Not far from the site of the original fort is the Nathaniel Hart cabin, only the foundation remaining, along the trace. Having researched the Hart family history, coming across this was especially meaningful. Across from this is a pioneer graveyard, another moving site I will revisit soon. We walked on, crossing fields and forests, roads and railroad tracks. I thought how little Boone would likely recognize today aside from Otter Creek and the Kentucky River. Yet I truly sensed his presence and spirit along the way, a lasting legacy that stays with us today.  At the end of the first day’s hike, it seemed fitting to conclude at Twitty’s Fort, another meaningful site that changed lives and history.

I kept thinking throughout how vital it is to preserve the trace, honor it by hiking and visiting landmarks along the way, and continuing to remember just how HUGE Boone’s trek was for Americans today. My hope is that schoolchildren can be taken on sections of the trail and that its significance can be taught in history classes. I wish that I could continue on the remaining days of the hike with Curtis and others but my schedule prevents it at this time. Hopefully there will be another trek. Curtis is the best leader for this journey, given his ancestry and also his leadership skills, too many to name here. I’ll always be grateful for our time on the trace and I encourage others to walk it and honor it and keep the memory of Boone and those first settlers alive today.

Many thanks, Laura Frantz

Laura is the author of a number of historical novels. Be sure to visit her website at LauraFrantz.net.


Day 1 of the 2016 Boone Trace Hike

Day 1
We left Fort Boonesborough at about 9:30 a.m. with a clear, blue sky and cool temps.

In the group were Mike, Gin, Sharon and Laura. The five of us kept a good pace and nobody walked too slow or too fast. The paved portion was what could be expected with the occasional car and narrow shoulders.

We made it to the historic Red House where the Bucher family fed us an amazing spread of BBQ and fixins. You could just tell in the short time we were with them that there is a lot of love in that family.

We headed out satiated and soon got to the overland portion of today’s hike.   Dirt paths, cattle fields and farmland that follow Otter Creek. Many of the land owners met us along the way and wished us well. Kentucky seems to be full of very positive people.

By the time we made it to Richmond, the winds had become a full on bluster which sapped our energy. After we crossed Lake Reba Park and Pumpkin Run Rd., we were all drained. Since Hwy 25 is not true Boone Trace we decided to hop in some vehicles and be shuttled the last couple miles to the Fort Twetty site where I am camped.

The DAR ladies, and others, put on a nice dinner for us. It was too windy to dine in the open so the Director of Tourism, Lori Murphy-Tatum, pulled some strings and we went to a nursing home across the road to eat in their dining room. State Rep. Rita Smart was with us and we talked about the excitement surrounding Boone Trace.

The temp is dropping fast and will dip below freezing by morning so I’m hunkering down.

Walk On,
Hop over to the Richmond Kentucky Tourism Facebook Page for more photos.