Trails Through History: Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail


By Carla Charter

Daniel Boone was known as a pioneer, explorer, woodsman, politician and frontiersman.  Those interested in following the pioneering path of Boone as well as others who crossed the frontier can traverse the 150-mile Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail through Kentucky Virginia and Tennessee.

The trail in its oldest version, was a Native American trail connecting the Iroquois of the Mohawk River Valley with the Old Northwest Territory and Kentucky,  according to Dr. Lawrence Fleenor Historian for the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association. The Delaware Indian name for the trail is ‘Athawominee’ which translates to “The Great Warrior’s Path”.

The name of Daniel Boone became connected with the trail, Fleenor continued, when Boone began to  travel it from his three homes near Boone, North Carolina in several attempts to travel through to Kentucky.  “In my mind the trail commemorates the birth of the American Nation, the American himself, as a separate ethnic, and the birth of the American language, Fleenor said.

The trail recognized by the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association is one blazed by Boone and his 30 axe men in 1775. It began at the Anderson Blockhouse that was located in East Carter’s Valley, Virginia, which is northeast of Kingsport Tennessee, and generally followed US 58 to Cumberland Gap, and on to Boonesboro, Kentucky, Fleenor stated.

The trail today has one practical difference from the original trail, Fleenor explained.  “Boone’s 30 axemen gathered at Fort Patrick Henry in present Kingsport, before moving on to the Blockhouse.  The association wished to physically connect with tourist sites in Kingsport, and used this reasoning to start our driving version of the trail at the Netherland Inn in Kingsport, which is as close as the public can get to the site of Fort Patrick Henry.”

The current trail is entirely a driving tour except for two short intervals at the eastern slope up Cumberland Gap, maintained by the Federal Cumberland Gap National Historic Park as a hiking trail, and the segment at Kane Gap on both sides of Powell Mountain north of Duffield Virginia.  Future plans for the trail include a mini park at the Natural Bridge just west of Jonesville, Virginia,

Among the state parks along the Daniel Boone Historical Trail include Natural Tunnel State Park which holds  a Frontier Muster and Trade Faire annually and will be holding a Frontier Harvest Festival on October 26. .  The Wilderness Road State Park  holds an annual ” Raid at Martin’s Station”, which in reality is a recreation of attacks on Carter’s Fort at Rye Cove, Virginia, which is not available to the public.   The Federal Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and Fort Boonesboro State Park are also part of the historical trail.

The Southwest Virginia Museum and Historical State Park of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, conducts an annual bus tour of the route between the site of the Anderson Blockhouse and Cumberland Gap which is written and conducted by Fleenor

More information on the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association and a map of the trail can be found at the association’s website at