Mountain Biking

2011 Adventure Race participants. 2011 Adventure Race participants. © Greg Whitis

McCreary County is home to plenty of trails for biking. 

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Mountain bike riding has become one of the more popular recreational activities enjoyed by visitors to Big South Fork. Currently at Big South Fork there are several trails which have been designed, built and are maintained by the Big South Fork Mountain Bike Club. In addition to bike only trails, mountain bikes are allowed on highway edges, back country roads and horse trails. This combination provides bikers of all skill levels with miles of trail options including:

  • Duncan Hollow Loop
  • Collier Ridge Loop
  • West Bandy Trail
  • Grand Gap Loop.

Visit nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/mountainbikeriding for trail descriptions and directions.

Daniel Boone National Forest

A great selection of trails awaits cyclists who seek recreational challenge across rugged terrain. Since most of our trails were constructed primarily for hiking, they are narrow and sometimes steep. You should expect to carry or walk your bike along some sections of trail. Many national forest trails are “multiple-use.” Mountain bikers often share the trail with hikers, horseback riders and off-highway vehicle enthusiasts. Please remember to Share the Trail. Biking in the Stearns Ranger District includes:

  • Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail
  • Laurel Creek Trail.

Visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/dbnf/recreation/bicycling for trail descriptions and directions.

Rock Creek Bike Trail

From Stearns take HWY 92 West toward Monticello. Turn Left after crossing Yamacraw Bridge onto HWY 1363. Turn left onto forest service road 566. Park at gravel pull off at White Oak Junction.

Ride along Old Fidelity Road next to Rock Creek, a beautiful stream with magnificent boulders, ripples, glides, and pools. Enjoy the natural setting and beauty as peddle along, Rock Creek is both a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream, a Kentucky Wild River and is in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

 The Rock Creek Bike Trail offers an easy 8 mile trip to Bell Farm. From White Oak Junction to Bell Farm and back (total of 16 miles) can be done at a casual pace in about 2 hours.  However, you may want to extend your time and carry along a picnic basket, fishing pole, and swimwear so that you can enjoy all that this stream and its beautiful surrounding offer.   

KY Bike Trail  (Ledbetter Trailhead)

From the intersection of US 27 and KY 92 south of Whitley City, head west on KY 92 toward Cabin Creek Road (6.4 miles).  Turn left onto Yamacraw-Bell Farm Road (2.3 miles).  Turn left onto Beech Grove Road/Devils Creek Road/Rock Creek Road (1.3 miles).  Keep right to continue on Beech Grove Road/Devils Creek Road (2.6 miles).  Take a slight right to stay on Beech Grove Road/Devils Creek Road.  Continue to follow Beech Grove Road (0.9 mile).  Turn left onto Bald Knob-Hill Cemetery Road (1.5 miles).

This newly updated bike trail is an excellent addition to the Big South Fork which has recently been honored as an international mountain biking destination by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).

Users of this trail can pick loops up to 33.8 mile in length or have the option of a shorter distance 16 mile loop.  This trail system has moderate to advanced level terrain with access to multiple trailheads.

Rock Creek Loop - John Muir - Chestnut Ridge Trails

Segments of the Rock Creek Loop Trail, the John Muir Trail, and the Chestnut Ridge Trail in the northwest corner of the Big South Fork form a network of rides of varying length and skill levels Combine trail segments for an out-and-back 18-mile ride to the scenic John Muir Overlook of shorter combination of loop and out-and-back rides. To access the area, take Highway 154 north from the junction with Highway 297 between the western park boundary and Jamestown. In 1.8 miles turn right onto Divide Road.

To ride the Rock Creek Loop Trail, follow Divide Road for 4.4 miles and turn left on the road to Hattie Blevins Cemetery. See the map below. The road ends after 2.9 miles at the cemetery. Park there and start riding to the north on the Rock Creek Loop Trail. The first mile of the trail is flat and follows an old road bed. After a sharp right turn, the trail narrows and descends into a ravine to cross Massey Branch. Portions of this descent and the ascent after crossing the creek are steep with sharp turns and switchbacks. Be prepared to walk your bike. The Rock Creek Loop Trail intersects the John Muir Trail at Massey Branch. Dismount and walk your bike across the narrow bridge to the right. The left fork at the bridge is the continuation of the Rock Creek Loop Trail. This section, closed to bicycles, follows the former route of the Stearns Logging Railroad along Massey Branch. It is very scenic and well worth hiking.

After crossing Massey Branch, the John Muir Trail climbs out of the gorge and in half a mile crosses Divide Road. This trail crossing is well marked. The small parking area at this well-marked trail crossing, which can be used as a trailhead for riders planning a shorter, flatter ride.

The 7.4-mile segment of the John Muir Trail from Divide Road to John Muir Overlook is open to mountain bikes. It is mostly flat to rolling, passes several small rockhouses, and crosses several small creeks. Be prepared to dismount and walk your bike across the low, narrow wooden footbridges which are extremely slippery when wet. Practice your cyclocross bike carry on the wooded latter about 2 miles from Divide Road. The trail crosses a variety of maturing hardwood forests, hemlock groves along the creeks, and extensive areas of younger mixed forest recovering after extensive tornado damage in the 1970s and more recent fire and pine beetle damage. A few short stretches of the trail cross lichen-covered sandstone.

After about 6 miles, the John Muir Trail intersects with the Chestnut Ridge Trail. In another mile, the trail starts climbing a narrow knife ridge that ends at John Muir Overlook. At the first of the wooded steps, leave you bike by the trailside and walk to the overlook. Use caution, as the sandstone is slippery when wet. The overlook provides a panoramic view of the valley of No Business Creek. Note the cleared fields in the valley to the west; this is the former Boyette homeplace. It is periodically mowed by the park staff as part of its historic landscape maintenance program.

The John Muir Trail is closed to bikes past the overlook, so ride back towards the west. For a shorter return trip, turn right onto the Chestnut Ridge Trail about a mile west of the overlook. The Chestnut Ridge Trail is a relatively flat former logging road about 2 miles long that ends at Divide Road 0.7 miles north of the Tennessee-Kentucky state line and 1.7 miles north of where the John Muir Trail crosses Divide Road. Go left on Divide Road and after 1.7 miles go right (west) on the John Muir Trail. Descend to Massey Branch (be careful on the hairpin turns), walk your bike across the bridge, and then follow the Rock Creek Loop Trail to the left (west) to the Hattie Blevins Cemetery parking lot.

For a shorter, more direct route to John Muir Overlook, park at the Divide Road – Chestnut Ridge Trail intersection 0.7 miles north of the state line. This trailhead is poorly marked so check your distance and watch for the old road branching off to the right.

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