A Kentucky Scenic Byway

Scenic byways are iden­ti­fied as high­ways with excep­tion­al road­sides and view­sheds. In 2020 the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet des­ig­nat­ed Athens-Boonesboro Road (KY 418) between Ford Road and Grimes Mill Road as a Kentucky Scenic Byway.  From Grimes Mill Road to Athens has been a Scenic Byway since 1995.

Traveling this route, one begins across the Kentucky River from Fort Boonesborough, estab­lished by Daniel Boone in 1775, and ends in Athens, near Boone’s Station, which Boone set­tled in 1779 — mak­ing this one of the most his­toric, as well as scenic, roads of Kentucky.  Due to its his­tor­i­cal asso­ci­a­tion, the byway was named Daniel Boone Heritage Trail.

The sites below—historical, scenic, recre­ation­al, and commercial—are encoun­tered on a dri­ving tour of the scenic byway.  The tour begins at the inter­sec­tion of Ford Road (KY 1924) and Athens-Boonesboro Road, Mile 0.

  • Beginning of the scenic highway
  • Map of the driving tour
  • Stone fences, such as the edge-laid fence here, line much of the road along this scenic byway.
  • Kentucky River Palisades at Mile 0.2
  • Nursery Place at Mile 3.8

Driving Tour

H, his­tor­i­cal; S, scenic; R, recre­ation­al; C, com­mer­cial; * Kentucky Historical Highway Marker

Fort Boonesborough, H, R, *

Daniel Boone, act­ing on behalf of the Transylvania Company, led 30 woods­men here in March 1775.  Col. Richard Henderson fol­lowed with a par­ty of set­tlers.  The fort was erect­ed on the west side of the riv­er.  Now one of Kentucky’s most pop­u­lar state parks.  Boonesborough Road (KY 388)

1.  Boonesborough Ferry, H, *

Kentucky’s first fer­ry, estab­lished by the Virginia Assembly in October 1779.  The license to oper­ate the fer­ry was grant­ed to Col. Richard Callaway.  The fer­ry endured until 1931, when Boonesborough Memorial Bridge was built across the riv­er.  Mile 0.1

2.  Boone & Callaway Girls’ Kidnapping, H, *

The cap­ture of Jemima Boone and Fanny and Betsy Callaway by a par­ty of Shawnees and Cherokees in July 1776 was one of the most thrilling events on the west­ern fron­tier.  Daniel Boone pur­sued with eight men, and against all odds, the res­cue was a com­plete suc­cess.  Mile 0.1

3.  Three Trees Canoe-Kayak Rental and RV Park, R, C

Locally-owned water­craft rental busi­ness, sea­son­al.  (859) 749‑3227  Mile 0.2

4.  Kentucky River Palisades, S

The tow­er­ing lime­stone cliffs, viewed across the riv­er from Three Trees, mark the begin­ning of the Kentucky River pal­isades.   At the base of these pal­isades, one finds the old­est exposed rocks in Kentucky, formed in the Ordovician Period about 450 mil­lion years ago.  Mile 0.2

5.  Billy Bush Riverside Park, R

County-owned park, open dai­ly.  Named for Capt. Billy Bush who estab­lished the Bush Settlement between the Kentucky River and Winchester in the late 18th cen­tu­ry.  Mile 0.3

6.  Coffee Springs Falls, H, S

Wet-weath­er water­falls ema­nat­ing from the Coffee Springs, named for the pio­neer set­tler, Ambrose Coffee.  Mile 0.5

7.  Boonesboro Quarry, H, S

This aban­doned rock quar­ry was oper­at­ed in the 1930s and 40s by J. A. Fries & Co. of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Caldwell Stone Co. of Danville.  Allen-Codell Co. of Clark County oper­at­ed the quar­ry until it closed in the 1950s.  Mile 0.8

8.  Lisletown, H

After Emancipation, this black com­mu­ni­ty was estab­lished by Fielding Lisle on the plateau above the Kentucky River.  Lisle, a for­mer slave, served in the 114th U.S. Colored Infantry dur­ing the Civil War.  Mile 0.8

9. John Holder Trail, R, S, H

The 2.8‑mile hik­ing trail is on the pub­li­cal­ly-acces­si­ble por­tion of Lower Howard’s Creek Nature & Heritage Preserve.  Mile 1.1

10.  Salt Spring Trace, H, S, R, *

This pio­neer trail, which led from Boonesborough to Lower Blue Licks, began as a buf­fa­lo road and Indian path.  It was dis­cov­ered by ear­ly set­tlers in 1775, marked and used exten­sive­ly to get to the Blue Licks, where pio­neers hunt­ed buf­fa­lo and made salt.  Mile 1.1

11.  Halls Restaurant, C

Hall’s on the River has been a land­mark for more than half a cen­tu­ry.  The first restau­rant here was run by leg­endary river­man Johnny Allman in the 1940s.  Hall’s Restaurant opened in 1966.  Mile 1.1

12.  Blackfish Ford, H

The low-water cross­ing of the Kentucky River at the mouth of Lower Howard’s Creek was named Blackfish Ford after the famous Shawnee chief.  Blackfish and his 400 war­riors crossed the riv­er here before lay­ing siege to Fort Boonesborough in September 1778.  Mile 1.1

13.  Col. John Holder, H, *

Kentucky mili­tia offi­cer, Col. John Holder, estab­lished a pio­neer sta­tion in 1782.  He lat­er added a boat­yard, ware­house, fer­ry, grist­mill, and tav­ern.  His enter­pris­es led to the devel­op­ment of the Lower Howard’s Creek indus­tri­al center—one of the first in Kentucky.  Mile 1.1

14.  Brooklyn, H

This sunken wreck in the riv­er near the Clark County shore was a stern­wheel­er tow­boat built in 1930.  The last own­er was Linville Puckett, who used her for a mari­na and beer depot.  The boat sank in 1977.  Mile 1.2

15.  Stone Fences, H, S

Stone fences, such as the edge-laid fence here, line much of the road along this scenic byway.  The fences were first con­struct­ed by Irish immi­grants in the mid-1800s and lat­er by black freed­men.  Mile 1.6

16.  Lower Howard’s Creek Nature & Heritage Preserve, H, S, R

This 440-acre sanc­tu­ary fea­tures his­tor­i­cal sites and more than 400 species of native, rare, and endan­gered plants along a scenic lime­stone gorge.  Mammalian species include riv­er otter, beaver, deer, coy­ote, wild­cat, black bear, gray bat, and evening bat.  Mile 1.7

17.  Hootentown, H

This post-Civil War black com­mu­ni­ty was set­tled in the 1870s.  The com­mu­ni­ty had Jouett Creek Colored School, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, and sev­er­al ceme­ter­ies.  The com­mu­ni­ty was named for its numer­ous Hooten fam­i­ly res­i­dents.  Mile 2.7

18.  Nursery Place & Jones Nursery, H, *

Fauntleroy Jones (1816−1897) was a nurs­ery­man, hor­ti­cul­tur­ist, and accom­plished botanist.  He enlarged a 1790s dogtrot cab­in into a 14-room home and estab­lished one of Kentucky’s first com­mer­cial nurs­eries.  Mile 3.8

19.  Boot Hill Farm, H, *

This was the home of com­pos­er, author, and bal­lad singer John Jacob Niles (1892−1980).  Niles com­posed “I Wonder as I Wander,” and “Go ‘Way from My Window.”  Mile 5.4

20.  Blue Grass Christian Camp, R

The non­prof­it camp, estab­lished in 1949, is open year-round for day vis­its, sum­mer camps, and retreats.  Mile 5.5

21.  Pettit-Morton Gristmill, H

This ear­ly stone grist­mill was oper­at­ed by Nathaniel Pettit, John Morton, and oth­ers.  It was lat­er a restau­rant, Gentry’s Old Mill.  This was also the site of a dis­tillery and bond­ed ware­house.  Located at the Christian Camp.  Mile 5.5

22.  Athens, H, S

The Athens Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places for its Italianate, Greek Revival, and Late Victorian archi­tec­ture.  The com­mu­ni­ty of Cross Plains, found­ed in 1783, was renamed Athens in 1825.  Mile 7.3

Boone’s Station, H, R, *

Daniel Boone led his fam­i­ly and oth­ers to this place in late December 1779.  They spent the Hard Winter in half-faced camps while con­struct­ing a stock­ad­ed sta­tion.  Several years lat­er, Boone left here after los­ing the land claim where the sta­tion was locat­ed.  240 Gentry Road

  • Harry is a Mt. Sterling native who has lived in Clark County since1999. He has a pas­sion for the past and has researched and writ­ten exten­sive­ly about the his­to­ry of this area.