An Insider's Guide to Morehead, KY: A True Sheltowee Trace Trail Town

The town of Morehead is the northern terminus of the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail, Kentucky’s longest and most famous hiking trail. Some consider this area the highlands of Kentucky, with miles of ridgetop vistas and stunning lake views awaiting outdoor adventurers of all kinds and ability levels. The trails are perfect for mountain biking or hiking, and the lake has some of the best fishing in Kentucky, so bring your rod and cast a line for some of the largest muskie in the state. After a long day, make sure you still have some energy left to explore the art galleries and local eateries in town.

As you might have figured out, there’s a lot to explore in Morehead, so here’s an insider’s take on making the most out of your visit.

WHERE TO EXPLORE

Boating & Fishing

Cave Run Lake is just outside of town and offers more than 8,000 acres of water for fishing or paddling. The state record for largest muskie was caught in this lake, weighing almost 50 pounds, and caught by a 14-year-old. Cast a line to try your luck at upping the record, or reel in a trout, catfish, bass, or walleye. The campgrounds have designated swimming areas where you can cool off on a hot day and the Scott Creek Marina rents paddle boats or pontoon boats if you don’t have your own.

For a convenient and quiet afternoon of fishing, head to at Triplett Creek, which runs right through town and can be accessed at Don Greenhill City Park.

Hiking & Biking 

Discover woodland trails with plenty of ridge top views and lake shorelines at Cave Run Lake, with enough options that you can put together a loop of almost any distance or difficulty. Cave Run Lake is also near the northern terminus of the Sheltowee Trace Trail, and it’s worth exploring the backwoods of Kentucky’s most famous trail.

For a short hike with views of Cave Run Lake, try the 2.5-mile Twin Knobs Shoreline Trailor the 1.5-mile Knob Overlook Trail—both can be found right in the Twin Knobs Campground.

For a rugged adventure, backpack the first 37 miles of the Sheltowee Trace Trail. Hike miles and miles of narrow, steep, wooded ridges, plunging down into valleys with quiet creeks, and then up again for stunning views of Cave Run Lake and the surrounding forest. The trail takes you through Morehead to stop for supplies and then you can keep going for another 10 miles of woods and creeks.

If you want ridge top views without the long hike, do the Lakeview Ridge Trail near Cave Run Lake—it’s less than 4 miles and makes a great biking trip.

You’ll find great cycling routes throughout town and near the University of Morehead. Try the Eagle Lake Trail or one of the city’s many bike paths. Bring your bike or rent one from Morehead State University or Switchback Cycling, a local bike shop offering repairs and equipment.

Art & Culture

Visit the art galleries in Morehead for a true taste of Appalachian folk art. The Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University showcases over a thousand pieces of art, and the Claypool-Young Art Gallery, on the campus of MSU,  features pieces by contemporary American artists, as well as student and faculty admissions from the art school.

The Rowan County Arts Center hosts local shopping events and the annual Morehead Arts and Eats Festival.

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

Morehead’s country cooking and local restaurants have something for everyone. Fuel up and caffeinate for the day at the Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop in the old theater, where you can peruse books and gifts while you sip your latte. 

For lunch, order a fresh wrap and a bowl of soup at All Seasons Café and Florist and relax on the front porch.

Feast on pulled pork sandwiches and homemade barbeque sauces at Pop’s Southern Style BBQ, and top it all off with some deep-fried pecan pie. Mi Monterrey has large portions of your favorite Mexican food, and Don Señor is the place to go for drinks and appetizers. Relax in the charming, bright interior, and plan your next day of exploration.

WHERE TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S REST

Camp along the lakeshore of the beautiful Cave Run Lake for easy access to the hiking and biking trails. Both Zilpo Campground and Twin Knobs Campground have fishing and swimming areas and hookups available for RVs.

For an adventure, take a canoe or motorboat to Claylick Boat-in Campground, and sleep out under the stars on the lakeshore. The site can only be accessed via boat or walking about a half mile in from the boat ramp, so it’s the perfect place to enjoy the quiet of early fall. For more primitive tent camping, Clear Creek Campground is in the midst of the woods by a quiet stream, and only a half hour away from Morehead.

If your ideal stay includes relaxing in woodland cabins by a lake or creek, Cave Run Cabins or Triplett Creek Cabin Rental host visitors in homey, quiet cabins. Sit on the porch or by the lake, soaking in the scenery and solitude.

Originally written by RootsRated for Kentucky Tourism.