The Sheltowee Bikepacking Route: Kentucky is More Than Horses & Bourbon

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Thanks in advance for spreading the word!

Filmmaker and photographer Andrew Opila was a part of the crew that finalized the Sheltowee Bikepacking Route last spring. Along the way, he made a beautiful film documenting the journey and interviewing all those involved in this challenging route, including folks from the Sheltowee Trail Association. Watch Andrew’s film and find a collection of his photos here…

Words, photos, and video by Andrew Opila

In April 2021, four friends and I set out to establish an official bikepacking route that follows as much of Kentucky’s Long Trail—The Sheltowee Trace—as possible. Taking inspiration from Josh Patton, Scott Hess, and Wess Murphy, who originally conceived the idea to create a bike-specific route through the region, we spent six days camping, hiking, and riding our bikes through some of the most rugged wilderness Kentucky has to offer. What came out of this trip was a lot of stories, new brake pads, and ultimately a 300-mile bikepacking route from Morehead, Kentucky, to northern Tennessee.

The Sheltowee Bikepacking Route is a hidden gem, buried deep in the hollers of The Daniel Boone National Forest. It requires a bit of stubbornness to link together some pristinely beautiful stretches of singletrack, tranquil gravel roads, and a bit of blacktop to give your legs a rest. This film is our story, and we hope you enjoy it! Special thanks to Austin Render, Morehead-Rowan County Tourism, The Sheltowee Trail Association, and for their stoke and support for this project.

“A lot of pedaling, a lot of hiking, a lot of slippery rocks, a lot of moss, a lot of creek crossings, a lot of scary creatures…”

  • Sheltowee Bikepacking Route Video
  • Sheltowee Bikepacking Route Video

“Nothing I’ve done in life that’s truly rewarding has come without challenge, and the Sheltowee is no exception.”

  • Sheltowee Bikepacking Route Video
  • Sheltowee Bikepacking Route Video
Sheltowee Bikepacking Route Video
  • Sheltowee Bikepacking Route Video
  • Sheltowee Bikepacking Route Video
  • Sheltowee Bikepacking Route Video

Sheltowee Bikepacking Route

The Sheltowee Bikepacking Route (SBR) is an incredibly beautiful, rugged, and challenging route that combines singletrack, gravel, and pavement to create a 300-mile thru-bike trail in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. The SBR follows the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail as closely as possible, throughout Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Full route guide here.

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