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Amazing, rugged, challenging, and beautifully rewarding hike along the mountains of SE Kentucky!


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Map Key

13.7

Miles

22.0

KM

Point to Point

2,828' 862 m

High

2,386' 727 m

Low

2,144' 654 m

Up

2,261' 689 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

26%

Max Grade (15°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Geological Significance · Historical Significance · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

The Little Shepherd section of the Pine Mountain State Scenic trail runs 13.5 miles along the Pine Mountain Ridgeline between Whitesburg Kentucky and Kingdom Come State Park. The first half of the trail follows closely with the previously established "Little Shepherd Road" (Ky State Hwy 1679), and then the second half becomes much more rugged and remote, as you climb above the road and onto the edge of the ridgeline before arrive at Creech Overlook within the boundary of the state park. There are almost a dozen marked overlooks along this trail, with sweeping mountain vistas of Kentucky and Virginia. This hike offers you some of the best views in the entire state of Kentucky.

Description

We parked one vehicle at the "Little Shepherd Trail" parking lot off State Hwy 119 above Whitesburg, KY, and had the other vehicle parked at the "Saltress Trailhead" within Kingdom Come State Park. We began the hike by climbing 0.5 miles uphill on Hwy 1679, before ducking into the woods, and for the next 6 miles, we stayed parallel with Hwy 1679, crossing the road many times.

It was a pleasant stretch of forest, passing us by several mountain gaps named after firearm brands and Native American tribes, such as "Remington Gap", "Winchester Gap", and "Choctaw Gap". Every mile of this section has a mile marker indicating how far you have gone, and the trail is well blazed with highly visible and reflective yellow blazes. Once you pass mile marker 6, the trail takes you up above Hwy 1679 and along the edge of the mountain ridge, and the terrain becomes significantly more challenging.

The grade becomes steeper and more uneven, as you have to do some minor rock scrambling along some sandstone-exposed bluffs. You are rewarded for your effort though, as you arrive at "Buzz Worm Overlook", the first of almost 12 marked overlooks of the Cumberland Plateau nearly 2,000 feet below. Many of the overlooks have religious themes, such as "The Great White Throne", "Upper Room", and "St John's Seat". Those names fit the views appropriately, because the beauty you behold is almost a religious, out of body experience.

Once you reach mile maker 11, you come back down to Hwy 1679 and follow it parallel until you reach "Creech Overlook", which marks the end of this section. However, the PMT continues westward along Hwy1679 and will be built another 60 miles to Pine Mountain State Park. We went 0.5 mi along Hwy 1679 to Saltress Trailhead, where there is "Black Bear Shelter" approximately 0.1mi into the woods. This shelter is a palace, containing two levels, vaulted ceilings, porch when beams, and enough space to fit well over a dozen thru-hikers. We camped there before returning home the next day.

Shared By:

Samuel Janes

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 2 votes

#1470

Overall
  5.0 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#15

in Kentucky

#1,470

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Photos

Buzz Worm Overlook along the Little Shepherd section of the Pine Mountain Trail
Nov 6, 2021 near Cumberland, KY
Buzz Work Overlook
Nov 6, 2021 near Cumberland, KY

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Mar 21, 2022
Kelly Holbrook
15.5mi
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