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

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 at one hundred feet. A throaty throttle and the torque jolt me in my seat belt.


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


Muddy Trails & River Roads


It’s been an exhilarating day at Carlisle’s Mississippi River Trails of Kentucky, 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 to see a Confederate anchor and canons that were buried in mud until they were discovered 60 years after the Civil War.


Small Towns & Big Crosses


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


Today, the historic courthouse is still sharp, and the overlook atop the bluff offers sweeping views of the riverfront and a chance to relax after a day of adventure at the newly renovated Historic Stokes House, the region's newest vacation rental home. Stop by the seawall to see the newly painted murals on your way to Elvis J. Stahr Harbor (Hickman Harbor) to launch your kayak at Mile 922, just off the Mississippi River.


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!


Get ready to plan your next great adventure in Kentucky’s Great River Road region! 

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