Explore Boone Trace

Tour curated by: Friends of Boone Trace, Inc.

Boone Trace was the first road opened into what was to become Kentucky.

Carved out by the legendary explorer Daniel Boone and his party of trailblazers during March and April 1775, the route was created for the specific purpose of introducing settlers to the new western lands. It is, therefore, of enormous historical significance. In addition to being important to the founding of Kentucky, it is also the opening of the early American West. The route began on Long Island on the Holston River (present-day Kingsport, TN) and continued across the Cumberland Gap and into the heart of Kentucky to Boonesborough. Five Kentucky counties would eventually encompass Boone Trace: Bell, Knox, Laurel, Rockcastle, and Madison.

The historical route has been identified and most of it can be followed using existing roads which are within reasonable proximity to the original trace. One must keep in mind that it was originally only a dirt trail, just large enough for pack horses and not wide enough for wagons.

There are twelve Kentucky Historical Society highway markers along Boone Trace. These markers are used as points of reference to describe the people, places, and events of the historic route of travel. Primary source documents, images, and artifacts are incorporated to enhance the description of Boone Trace.

The sequence of markers presented here are in order as they proceed northward from the Cumberland Gap to Boonesborough, which was the direction first traveled by Daniel Boone and his men in 1775.

Locations for Tour

Historical marker #2217 at Cumberland Gap commemorates the exploits of famed explorers Lewis and Clark, who passed through the Cumberland Gap in 1806. This marker also serves as a reminder for Boone Trace, which traversed this section of the…

Historical Marker #1228 commemorates the oldest house still standing in Bell County. The house was constructed out of brick about 1800. Although the subject matter of the marker is later than the era of Daniel Boone's early exploration, this…

Historical Marker #2045 in Bell County commemorates the exploits of Dr. Thomas Walker, who preceded Daniel Boone and other early explorers to this region. In 1750, Walker named the Cumberland River for Prince William, the Duke of Cumberland, son…

Historical Marker #1426 in Bell County notes the historical significance of Cumberland Ford. This important natural crossing point on the Cumberland River was used by Native Americans, early explorers, and pioneer settlers. The Cumberland River was…

Historical Marker #1600 in the town of Flat Lick (Knox County) commemorates an important point of divergence, if traveling north, or convergence, if traveling south, of the three major frontier roads in this region: the Warrior's Path, Boone…

Historical Marker #927, located on Highway 229 in Laurel County just south of Levi Jackson State Park, commemorates the site of a tavern which once stood on the historic Wilderness Road. This marker also serves as an identifier of the Boone Trace…

Historical Marker #53 in Laurel County commemorates the famous "fork in the road." Here in 1775, Daniel Boone and his party of trailblazers diverged from the more primitive hunting trail, known as Skagg's Trace, and continued on to…

Historical Marker #77 in Madison County commemorates the site of a Native American attack on Daniel Boone's trailblazing party while they constructed Boone Trace in the spring of 1775. Boone and his men camped at this location on Taylor's…

Historical Marker #2473 commemorates the portion of Boone Trace leaving the relatively level Laurel County area into the mountainous and remote Rockcastle County area which became quite arduous for the Daniel Boone and his trailblazing party during…

Historical Marker #1443 in Madison County commemorates "Daniel Boone’s Trace," the famous trail constructed by Daniel Boone and his party of pioneers in 1775. The Trace ran from Cumberland Gap to Fort Boonesborough. Daniel Boone was…

Historical Marker #1577 in Madison County commemorates the home of early Kentucky settler Captain Nathaniel Hart. Hart, a Revolutionary War soldier, was a member of the Transylvania Land Company. As chief negotiator and a leading advocate for the…

Historical Marker #1579 in Madison County commemorates the final destination point of Daniel Boone and his party of trail cutters. These men had taken a long journey during the months of March and April 1775, creating Boone Trace, which was the…

Historical Marker #1520, located at Fort Boonesborough State Park in Madison County, commemorates the founding of this early Kentucky settlement and fort. Fort Boonesborough was the final terminus of the epic journey that Daniel Boone and his group…