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Chasing Adventure in Kentucky’s Great River Road National Scenic Byway

Carlisle County River Trails
Carlisle County River Trails

By Cory Ramsey

I grit my teeth and realize I actually have grit in there to grit.

My face is a glorious mess, a wet combination of mud and a rain shower that's just started to fall. But I can't wipe it off because I'm too busy dodging branches zipping past me at 30 mph.

Although my heart is racing, it nearly skips a beat when we ramp up the sharpest incline I've ever seen on an ATV. One hundred feet. A throaty throttle and the torque jolt me in my seatbelt.

I say a little prayer. We make it up the hill right as a raccoon jumps into the kudzu ahead of us. My heart’s jumping again, too, although it’s balanced by the sweet thrill of victory this time.

Muddy Trails & River Roads

It’s been an awesome day at Carlisle County’s Mississippi River Trails of KY, which has opened its mud to the public. You can buy a permit at the courthouse to ride the county’s scenic trails. But there is a cleaner way to enjoy similar thrills.

Asphalt was laid down almost 100 years ago for cars zipping alongside the Mississippi River. Today, it's a National Scenic Byway called the Great River Road. On it, you can stop at Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site to discover Native American burial mounds.

Or travel to Columbus-Belmont State Park and see a Confederate anchor and canons buried in mud until they were discovered 60 years after the Civil War. Or enjoy a Harper's Ham Sandwich from a hog that once played in the – you guessed it – mud.

Small Towns & Big Crosses

Mark Twain knew this area well, and in his book "Life on the Mississippi" called Hickman "a pretty town, perched on a handsome hill."

Today, the historic riverfront courthouse is still sharp, and an overlook park atop the bluff offers sweeping views and a chance to relax after a day of adventure.

Kentucky’s Great River Road is flanked by crosses at both ends. A giant one stands at the confluence of the Ohio River north. But south at Hickman is a cross of a different sort, passage over the river on the Dorena-Hickman Ferry.

Both entice you to stay longer – and closer – to the river. And the thought of a cross may come in handy when you find yourself tearing through the woods on a rumbling ATV!

Ready to plan your next great adventure in Kentucky’s Great River Road region? Call or visit www.kygrro.com.

If You Go

Kentucky Great River Road
270-705-0506, www.kygrro.com

Mississippi River Trails of KY

Wickliffe Mounds State Historical Site
270-335-3681, http://parks.ky.gov/parks/historicsites/wickliffe-mounds/

Columbus-Belmont State Park
270-677-2327, http://parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/columbus-belmont/

Harper's Country Ham
888-HARPERS, www.hamtastic.com

City of Hickman
270-236-2902, www.hickman.cityof.org

Dorena-Hickman Ferry
731-693-0210, www.dorena-hickmanferryboat.com

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