Route: Sheltowee Trace (KY)

Kentucky, US
319 mi


Climbing between deep hemlock gorges and piney, craggy summits, the Sheltowee Trace is a 319-mile National Recreation Trail (2015 alignment) that spans the Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. The name "Sheltowee" honors the history of Daniel Boone, who was captured by Shawnee Indians while making salt in an area close to the present-day trail. Chief Blackfish, his adopted Shawnee father, renamed him Sheltowee, which meant "Big Turtle."

The Trace was started by a US Forest Service landscape architect Verne Orndorf in the mid-1970s (listen to a 2005 oral history). He envisioned the trail for foot travel only, gaining inspiration from local Sierra Club members who wanted a long-distance footpath in Kentucky. Today, the Trace has an active non-profit, the Sheltowe Trace Association (STA), that actively helps build new trail and maintain existing trail for the public good. was created in 2004 with the goal to help trail users find good information and maps and to promote the preservation of the trail as a long-distance path. With the evolution of the internet, the main attraction to this site, the forum, couldn't keep up with social media and has been archived. While currently registered forum users can post as normal, the forum will not accept new registrations unless you contact us direcly. Looking forward, this site will try to offer the best maps available for the Trace.

Note:  The route is now (2020) officially 341 miles, and continues to expand.  Earlier FKTs were done on shorter routes (307 miles in 2014, 319 miles in 2016, 323 miles in 2018, 333 miles in 2019). A planned future expansion will extend the trail to 354 miles.


I will be attempting the self supported record going sobo starting on tuesday, you can follow my spot device here: This link should go active when I begin. Beyond that I will be documenting on instagram via @jupiterhikes and after write a trip report as well as upload any video I took during the attempt.


Also Rick's unsupported fkt from 2016 is really a self supported trip. In his trip report on facebook he mentions stopping at restaurants multiple times. It doesn't matter but I felt it was worth mentioning if this record becomes more popular in the future.

I failed my attempt, giving up about 5 days in after a run in with some nasty dogs that really messed with my already fragile mental state. After a couple half days to regain my stoke I wound up finishing in 11 days and 4 hours. I wrote this trip report in hopes of helping the next girl or guy who goes after the record. Including information from my hike, and about the trail from the perspective of someone traveling light and fast.

I just submitted files for the new self supported FKT for the Sheltowee Trace (new route 333 miles).  9 days, 6 hrs, 57 minutes. 

Here are the five videos documenting my FKT on the Sheltowee Trace:


1. FKT announcement

2. FKT preview

3. FKT part 1

4. FKT part 2  

5. Things I learned and would do differently on my next FKT attempt







Anne that's great! I'm not the only insane one out there!  Calm the dogs down for me.  Good Luck, hope to see you out there!


Best of luck to both of you, I would enjoy following both of your attempts! I will be in the middle of an attempt myself on November 4 on the 85 mile Susquehannock Trail in Pennsylvania. 

I couldn’t keep up with the mileage Richard laid down.  I’m disappointed in the way my body reacted early on.  I got off at London, having to be back at work on Monday.  I think I will retire from FKT’s  and just consult at this point... or just backpack!  Good luck Anne!

Good effort Sandbag! I would love to talk to you about your attempt, what’s the best way to reach out? 

Successfully finished my attempt on 11/9/20 in a time of 8 days, 9 hours, 47 mins. First female for this route! I will admit freely I was trying to beat John's time and just couldn't cut it with the 80 degree days towards the end. It was awesome seeing Sandbag in the middle. Sidenote: per latest 2020 OutrageGIS map I get a route length of 341 if doing Burnt Mill clockwise around to next intersection of Honey Creek Mill Road. Fun to think that the route will be up to 354 miles soon. 

I’ll be starting an attempt to set the first Unsupported FKT on the Sheltowee Trace on April 2nd, 2021. I’ll have a MapShare page and be heading northbound. More info here.  

Hello all, 

My name is Michael Stutzman and I plan to start tomorrow morning for a supported attempt going SOBO on the Sheltowee.

If my InReach mini works properly you can follow along at:

I will track with my watch and possibly Gaia if necessary, but I won’t have any live links to those.

 I did set up a profile on Facebook as “Sheltowee Bound”. If you friend me and leave a message saying you found me on here I’ll try to add you as the week goes on (time allowing).

Thank you to John and Jason for spending some time talking with me over the past month. Much respect to those who have done this trail before me.

Peace to all!


Hey, thought I should let everyone know how my attempt shook out. 

I decided to DNF my attempt after 322 official trail miles at the 6 day and 5 hour mark (very proud of the fact that I averaged over 50 miles per 24 hour period on trail).  It may seem unfathomable that I would stop when so near the end and well within reach of lowering the supported time set by John.  I’ll simply say that before I started my attempt  I had given myself a few lines that I was not willing to cross in my attempt. When I made the decision to stop I felt that I had crossed one of them or was near crossing it and that fed into my decision.

Much respect to John and his time that still stands and a word of encouragement to those considering an attempt—go for it. John himself will say that his record leaves decent room to be lowered.

I’m not sure whether I’ll post an official account of my attempt or not. If anyone has questions for me, I’d be more than happy to speak with you as long as you’re patient with me.

My cell # is 330-231-6242. I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, but if you text me and explain where you got my number, I’ll get back to you.

Go in peace.

Michael Stutzman 

Hello everyone, on Monday, September 13  I will begin a supported FKT attempt heading southbound. I will be recording gps data from multiple sources as well as posting updates in the facebook group Beth and the Big Turtle linked below. I have seen a lot of this beautiful trail, and am excited to do it all at once. A big thank you to everyone who makes this trail possible, and happy trails to everyone!