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10 ATV Trails in Kentucky Better Than The Bourbon

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Recreational ATV riding is a great way to explore the beautiful state of Kentucky. Here are the best ATV trails in Kentucky that riders of all skill levels will enjoy. 

Aside from its famous horses and Bourbon, The Bluegrass State of Kentucky also has rolling hills and glacial features that makes it a popular destination among ATV enthusiasts. Stretching from Illinois in the West to West Virginia in the East, there are dozens of ATV trails to explore in Kentucky.

From National Forest trails to privately-owned ATV parks, these are some of our favorite ATV trails in Kentucky.

atv trails in kentucky

ATV Riding in Kentucky

Before you hit these ATV trails in Kentucky, you may be wondering what to expect.

In general, ATV’s are not street legal in Kentucky.

They may only be ridden on public roads when it’s necessary to cross a road to stay on the trail, or in other special circumstances.

Protective headgear is required at all times, and your age will dictate the permitted engine size of your machine.

Anyone under the age of 16 may not operate more than a 90cc engine and must be under the supervision of an adult at all times. 

Daniel Boone National Forest 

Explore more than 150 miles of multi-use trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

The forest encompasses 21 counties of Southeast Kentucky, with over 700,000 acres of land set aside for recreation and preservation.

The forest has more than 150 miles of trails that are open to OHV traffic and is split into four distinct ranger districts.

A pass is required for OHV trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest. 

Cumberland District

This is the northernmost district of the Daniel Boone National Forest and includes the very popular Cave Run Lake.

The town of Morehead has local services, while Lexington is just an hour away.

This district also has loads of other recreation opportunities, such as camping, boating, and hiking, in addition to one OHV trail system. 

  • White Sulphur OHV Trail System – 17 miles of trails formed by Forest Service roads and hiking trails are open to OHV’s from May 1 through November 30. The trails are well-maintained, making them mostly beginner-friendly. 

London Ranger District

The Central part of the Daniel Boone National Forest has the largest selection of off-road trails and trail systems.

Laurel River Lake is one of the most popular spots for recreation enthusiasts visiting the London Ranger District. 

  • Goodwater OHV Route – a 3-mile loop best for intermediate riders
  • Renfro OHV Route #302/302A – a 5-mile loop from the S-Tree Campground, suitable for beginners and intermediate riders
  • Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail – this entire trail is nearly 300 miles long, although only certain sections are open to OHV traffic. Trail #100 has several sections and connector trails you can explore on ATV.

Redbird District

This section of the forest is closest to the Virginia and West Virginia borders with four trails to choose from.

With over 100 miles of trails, this is probably the best area to find ATV trails in Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest. 

  • Redbird Crest Trail #801 – three trailheads offer access to this lengthy trail system
  • Gilbert Creek/ Elisha Loop Trail #802 – a 14-mile loop trail for vehicles 50” or less
  • Left Fork of Elisha Creek #803 – a 7-mile loop near the ranger district office

Stearns District 

The southernmost district of the Daniel Boone National Forest is home to several OHV trails and trail systems.

This is also home to two designated Wild Rivers, Rock Cree, and Cumberland River.)

  • Rock Ridge OHV Trail – sections 506 and 506A offer nearly six miles of difficult terrain with sharp turns and steep hills.
  • Straight Creek OHV Route – sections 501 and 501A have two miles of easy, flat trails that are perfect for beginner riders
  • Yellow Cliff OHV Route  – this 2.25-mile trail is fairly easy, with a couple of narrow spots along a ridge. 

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

Along the border of Kentucky and Tennessee, Land Between the Lakes has 170,000 acres of land set aside for recreation.

It’s a popular spot for boaters, hikers, campers, and fishermen. For OHV’s and ATV’s, there’s the Turkey Bay OHV Area.

Here you’ll find over 100 miles of OHV trails, just waiting to be explored.

All trails are marked for difficulty, and there’s even a “turkey trot” trail for those 16 and under to practice their riding skills.

For overnight visitors, the OHV area contains two 24-hour generator camping areas, and there are several campgrounds within the Land Between the Lakes Area.

For those seeking a hot shower and a bed at the end of the day, Paducah is just 30 minutes away, while Nashville is only 90 minutes from Land Between the Lakes. 

Rush Off-Road

This private ATV park near the West Virginia border has over 100 miles of trails scattered across 7000 acres.

Rush-Off-Road is open to ATVs, side by sides, motorbikes, and 4WD vehicles.

Trails range from beginner to challenging, with roll cages and helmets required for the most extreme trails.

Trails are open from mid-May through the end of December, and you can expect a lot of mud and ruts during rainy periods.

Single-day passes, one-week passes, and an annual pass is available. 

Camping is available on-site, although there are no hookups or showers available at this time.

There are several private cabin rentals and campgrounds in the nearby vicinity, while the river town of Ashland, dozens of hotels, and restaurants just 30 minutes from Rush-Off-Road.

Wildcat Adventures Offroad Park

This family-friendly off-road park offers over 2,000 acres of forested land in Southeast Kentucky.

Wildcat Adventures has over 100 miles of trails, with something for every experience level.

With affordable daily and weekly passes, this is a great spot for the whole family.

The trails are well-maintained and clearly marked, so even beginner riders can have a blast. 

The park features a fully-equipped campground, with 42 RV sites that have water, sewer, and electric hookups.

Primitive campsites are also available if you want to rough it.

There are eight furnished cabins or homes for rent on the property, and they sleep anywhere from four to 14 people per cabin.

There’s usually food concessions, too, and the town of London is just 15 minutes away. 

Hollerwood Park

Near Kentucky’s famed Red River Gorge, Hollerwood Park has 2,500 acres of scenic trails.

This is some of the best scenery in Kentucky, and some of the most challenging OHV trails.

Everything from mud pits to rock climbs, and they even have night riding at Hollerwood.

If you forgot something at home, or need a cool souvenir, the on-site store has you covered, and a food truck for when you get hungry.

There are shower houses for men and women, but only primitive camping on-site.

Between the Red River Gorge Geological Area and the Natural Bridge State Resort Park, there are plenty of other camping and lodging options in the area.

In addition to many small towns in the area, Lexington is just an hour away. 

New to ATV Trails in Kentucky? Take a guided tour with Backwoods’ Off-Road Tours!

Wrights Area 252 Riding Park

Located along the scenic Kentucky Great River Road National Scenic Byway, Wrights Area 252 Riding Park has12 miles of trails on the Mississippi River, just outside the town of Burkley.

There are a mud pit and a wide variety of difficulties in the trails.

This park is on the smaller side, and it’s only open on the weekends, but it’s also one of the few free ATV trails in Kentucky.

It’s also growing, so there may be more trails added by the time you visit again.

The Area 252 Trading Post has drinks, snacks, and some riding gear. 

While Burkley is a small, unincorporated town, there are several towns in the area, and Paducah is less than one hour away.

Shawnee National Forest is about an hour away, so you can also explore some ATV trails in Illinois while you’re in the area. 

Dirty Nasty Off-Road Park

This park near Morehead Kentucky has 600 acres for all kinds of machines to explore.

Dirty Nasty Off-Road Park is one of Kentucky’s newer ATV parks, and it’s only open on Saturdays.

The park is known for fun events like scavenger hunts, races, and obstacle courses. 

You can make a weekend of it by camping overnight at the park.

At this time, camping is primitive, but there are plans to expand with hookups and showers in the future.

You’re also really close to Cave Run Lake and the Cumberland District of Daniel Boone National Forest, so there are tons of camping and lodging opportunities nearby. 

Blue Holler Off-Road Park

Not far from Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park, Blue Holler Off-Road Park has over 1000 acres to explore.

You’ll see all kinds of machines here, exploring caves, mud, and waterfalls.

The park is known for fun events like the Redneck Rave and they also side-by-side rentals if you’re looking to try a new machine.

Blue Holler has clean bathrooms and showers, too!

Camping is available nearby in Mammoth Cave National Park, as well as several small tourist towns in the area.

Nolin Lake is another popular recreation area just north of the park, and Bowling Green is less than one hour away.

Dirty Turtle Off-Road Park

About 45 minutes from Louisville, Dirty Turtle Off-Road Park has nearly 300 acres of off-road trails for ATVs, Side-by-Sides, buggies, Jeeps, and RZRs.

The park has a family-friendly atmosphere, with trails for all levels of difficulty.

There are campgrounds, camping cabins, a general store, and a fun calendar of events to check out.

The Ohio River town of Carrollton is just 15 minutes away, with several hotels and restaurants. 

Black Mountain Offroad Adventure Area

For a good time on the ground and in the sky, head to Black Mountain Offroad Adventure Area.

Rated the #1 Offroad area in Harlan County, this park has over 200 miles of trails.

OHV trails range from easy to extreme, many of them repurposed from old mining and logging roads.

They even offer guided tours if you want to get a better lay of the land before setting off on your own.

In addition to some of the best ATV trails in Kentucky, Black Mountain is also home to the Thunder Zipline.

Take a two-hour canopy tour 400 feet above the forest floor. 

There are primitive campgrounds throughout the park, as well as two RV campgrounds near the park.

The town of Harlan is a tourism hub just 15 minutes from the park, with several lodging choices. 

Fun ATV Riding Clothes

While protective gear is essential on the trail, it’s ok to look cute and share your wilder riding side with the world. I’m a big fan of ball caps and love this adorable “ATV hair, Don’t Care” hat from Sew Vivid Design on Etsy. Be sure to Check out all this cute ATV apparel.

Recommended ATV Riding Resources

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