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The Byway was created for anyone in a capable 4WD vehicle to access the beauty of Eastern Kentucky. With your help we can maintain, improve and expand this wonderful trail system and guarantee its access for generations to come. Please remember when enjoying the outdoors in any capacity to always follow the "Tread Lightly" principles. 


At a special meeting of the Powell Fiscal Court in Stanton KY on February 14th, 1969, Judge Executive James J. Crowe approved the agenda item “franchise for guided Jeep tours”, thus establishing the tradition of vehicle-based backcountry travel in the Red River Gorge Region. For thirty five subsequent years, off road enthusiasts enjoyed driving the world class trails and long-established county roads of the region. The Red River, the high cliff-lines, glorious sandstone arches, local culture, and the diverse flora and fauna of the forest provided a solid tourism resource which directly impacted the local economies. Such destinations as Sand Lick Road, known as “the Narrows”, also known as White’s Branch Arch and the enchanting Sterling Road, known as “The Nature Trail” offered excellent recreation to all backcountry loving Americans and notably, a robust tourism economy to the region. The National Jeep Jamboree was held in the area for many decades, bringing important economic stimulus to the local towns. The local volunteer fire departments supported the Jeep events by hosting car washes to raise money for their operations. It was a superb symbiosis.


Fast forward to May 2006 and the sound of heavy equipment can be heard along portions of Sand Lick Road. Deep trenches are being dug across the road in multiple places and also at each end of the spiny ridge, blocking public access in a successful attempt to close multiple county roads simultaneously, Sand Lick Road and Sterling Road were being destroyed.

Lead by the United States Forest Service and Kentucky Land Heritage Conservation Fund, the track hoes and bull dozers caused exponentially more damage to these famous county roads in a few days than any number of vehicles could cause in a lifetime. Crater size tank traps, thirty feet deep trenches to bedrock, and steel pylons are ugly scars forever to be seen by all who try to enjoy what is left of Sand Lick Road and Sterling Road.  Seeing is believing, so please make a visit to personally understand the level of damage caused, it is eye opening!

In the distance, there is a rumbling among citizens who learn of this tragedy and realize these valuable county roads are no longer accessible. Motorized access had been stolen!  The roads were closed under a “USFS Categorical Exclusion” loophole and without any comments from the public or counties. 


As the rumble of public discontent grew louder, the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway loomed like a storm on the horizon.  Daniel Boone might well have followed these ancient roads on his way to Pilot’s Knob and his first views of the bluegrass region.  The unchecked power of these unhinged agencies had destroyed our ancient roads. 


In the years that followed the tragic destruction of Sand Lick Road and Sterling Road, a tug of war between county officials, federal agencies, and state agencies ensued.  On a spring morning in April 2014, the brave Judge Executive from Powell County James Anderson sent his county road crew to reopen Sand Lick Road.  A few citizens drove their vehicles through the onslaught of tank traps, steel pylons, and massive trenches to make the first successful traverse of Sand Lick Road since that fateful day in May 2006.  Soon after Powell County’s attempt to reclaim their roads, the USFS again sent in heavy equipment and further destroyed the road with even more damaging tactics and also temporarily installed armed rangers with military style rifles to guard the entrance to the roads.  The spat between the county and these agencies continues to this day with no definitive justification provided by the offending agencies, yet the road remains damaged and closed to vehicular travel.

April 2016 - Powered by new leadership at the USFS, there is common ground established among the agency, the enthusiasts, and the counties. The obvious need to balance the use of the forest to aid the struggling local economies, provide a quality recreational experience to the public, and make it sustainable results in the first digital map of the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway, available for download! The scenic route covers nearly one hundred miles around the Red River Gorge Area.


The Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway (DBBB) is a moderately difficult, high clearance route for licensed, street legal vehicles. It utilizes historic county roads around the Red River Gorge and Daniel Boone National Forest. It contains terrain surfaces varying between one third gravel, one third trail, and one third asphalt. It can be completed within a full day or two, depending on various factors.


Is the DBBB open year round?

Yes, because the Byway is composed of public roads and property it is continuously open (unless maintenance or county work requires part of the route to be temporarily closed or altered). We do ask that users of the DBBB keep weather conditions in mind and refrain from traveling the route when usage could lead to increased wear or erosion of the roads and trails. Please consider the surface conditions as Freeze/Thaw cycles and heavy rain plus spinning tires leads to increased/accelerated erosion. The best time to ride the DBBB is April - November so plan accordingly.

What vehicles can use the DBBB?

The Byway is comprised of county roads which by Kentucky state law require vehicles operated on them to be licensed and insured (including motorcycles). Because of this ATVs and UTVs are not legally allowed to use the Byway. If you are operating a vehicle on the DBBB please make sure that it is current on its registration/insurance and that it meets all safety requirements to be operated on a public roadway.

Who operates and maintains the DBBB?

The DBBB is made possible by Powell, Estill, Lee, Wolfe, and Menifee Counties and their respective Judge Executives. The Byway is supported by Southern Four Wheel Drive Association (SFWDA), Ohio River Four Wheelers, Kentucky Toyota Land Cruisers, Kentucky Krawlers, The Trailkeepers Foundation along with many local groups and individuals. Maintenance and expansion of the DBBB is accomplished through grants and donations from fundraisers, groups and individuals.

Is there a map of the DBBB available?

While there are many map files found on the internet and from certain retailers they unfortunately cause users to trespass on to private property as well as US Forest Service areas. The only official and up to date map of the Byway is available from Cartotracks. It works on iPhone and Android devices and does not need a cell signal once downloaded as it relies solely on GPS built into the phone/device along with the PDF map. 

Is there camping along the DBBB?

There is free dispersed camping marked on the map on Daniel Boone National Forest land along Spaas Creek Road and permit camping along Indian Creek Road. Permits can be purchased locally at various locations around Slade. There are also multiple private campsite and cabin rentals in the Red River Gorge area.

What vehicle equipment is recommended for the DBBB?

While the Byway was created to allow stock 4WD vehicles to traverse the entire route, weather and changes in certain trail sections can cause the difficulty to increase at certain times. While AWD vehicles have become more popular they oftentimes don't offer the ground clearance or drivetrain to successfully navigate all sections of the DBBB. It is always recommended to never travel alone so please enjoy the Byway with at least one other vehicle. Recommendations: two vehicle minimum, 31" tire minimum 33" recommended, traction aids or rear locker, winch, straps, and the knowledge to use them. This route is not easy, travel at your own risk!

How long will it take me to complete the DBBB?

Factors such as group size, weather conditions and driver experience can all affect the speed at which you can complete the entire Byway. Most visitors take a full one to two days to cover the entire route. You can also easily split up the DBBB in to smaller sections that can be covered in less time by using the official map from our partner, Cartotracks.

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