The Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail (PMSST) is a linear state park still under development. Once completed, the long-distance hiking trail will span 120 miles from Breaks Interstate Park to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and pass through many natural areas including:
...as well as other sites along the crest of the Pine Mountain range in eastern Kentucky. The trail is designed for backpacking and hiking with primitive camping in shelters located every 14 miles. The Pine Mountain Trail will be a means for showcasing the wild highlands and conserving the natural and cultural heritage of Appalachia for future generations.
The Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund is committed to help complete the Pine Mountain Trail and has funded the acquision of over 555 acres for Kentucky State Parks specifically for the trail, in addition to many of the other natural areas on Pine Mountain that the trail traverses.
Birch Knob Section
Currently a contiguous trail from Breaks Interstate Park to US 119 is designated in two sections. The section from Breaks to US 23 is the Birch Knob section and totals 28 miles. Opportunities for photography abound – from rock outlooks to the viewing platform between Elkhorn and US 23.
The US 23 - US 119 is named The Highlands because this part of the trail is the highest portion of PMSST and totals 16 miles for a total of 44 miles. If you hike along the High Rock Loop Trail, you’ll be treated to the waterfalls at Bad Branch State Nature Preserve. Construction has not yet passed beyond US 119. However, if hikers wish to do so, they can plan hikes on the Little Shepherd Trail (LST).
Little Shepherd Trail
The Little Shepherd Trail continues for another 38 miles from US 119 to US 421. The LST is a narrow, 1 1/2 lane blacktop road open to vehicular traffic, though lightly traveled. From US 119 to Kingdom Come State Park is 14 miles where primitive camping and water is available. The LST section passed above the Lucy Braun State Nature Preserve, Kentenia State Forest, and State Nature Preserve.
Two trail shelters can be found along the Highlands section for use by backpackers. Additionally, the Birch Knob section has one trail shelter. The shelters are simple, open wood structures with bunks and a table, meant to serve as a dry place to rest along your journey. Shelters can accommodate up to 12 backpackers, and are designed to be shared use facilities.