Discover Clay County Kentucky

Discover the backcountry of Clay County, the Gateway to the Elk & Redbud Capitals of Kentucky and the Land of Swinging Bridges! Camp, hike, bike or ride. Learn about our rich Appalachian history and culture. Picnic and play at our parks, golf at Big Hickory Golf Course, view abundant wildlife and weathered barns on scenic country drives, navigate miles of ATV trails. Step back in time with our historic towns and old swinging bridges. Come explore the beautiful Appalachian mountains, Daniel Boone National Forest and the Bert T. Combs Lake & Recreational Park. Stay for a day, maybe two, and take home a memory that will last a lifetime.

Land of Swinging Bridges

Clay County's swinging bridges are historical pedestrian bridges towering above the rivers and creeks. During floods they were one of the only ways to cross the waterways. In some remote areas of Clay County, this is still true today. These suspension footbridges are often called swinging bridges because the bridge sways beneath your feet as you walk across. They are also referred to as rope bridges due to their historical origin based on the ancient Inca rope bridge.

Swinging bridges would span a wide river without the need for foundation pillars in the middle. This meant there was no obstruction to river traffic and no danger of the pier being damaged during floods. They were also cheaper to build than pier designs. Typical construction would start with a ball of twine to judge the curve and distance. The upright piers were constructed first before being pulled into position by men in boats or on horses or mules. The cable was then dragged across by hand using a wheel or pulley. Men would mix cement and haul river gravel and timbers from local farms.

Many of these historic relics of Appalachian history still tower over Goose Creek, Red Bird and the South Fork rivers. Visit Clay County Kentucky, the Land of Swinging Bridges, and discover the romance, history and adventure of these cherished swinging bridges.

City of Manchester

Manchester is a tightly-packed little town arranged around the town square, Court House hill and north and south entries. The town has an old-fashioned, "real town" feel about it, but is also graced with handsome, modern structures on all sides. Visit the city parks, Veterans Memorial, Town Square, shops and restaurants. Heritage Pavilion and Goose Salt Works contain interpretive signs outlining the county's history. An ongoing mural project depicts the county's rich Appalachian heritage, visitors can brave the Goose Creek Swinging Bridge and a community folk-life theater, Monkey Dumplin's, empowers individuals to capture and tell their family stories.

Village of Oneida

Discover Appalachia off the beaten trail in wonderfully wild, breathtakingly beautiful Oneida, Ky. Home to the world renowned Oneida Baptist Institute and Monkey Hollow Wildlife Sanctuary & Vacation Cabins, Goose Creek and the Red Bird River confluence here to form the South Fork of the Kentucky River. Winding mountain roads feature family farms, roadside stands, small country stores, hilltop cemeteries, historic weathered barns and swinging bridges. Oneida is a natural, backcountry paradise for those who want to experience the peace and adventures of raw, untamed nature.

Historic Hamlets

A hamlet, or unincorporated community, is a small settlement in a rural area. These historic gems are home to early structures, unbridled natural beauty, wildlife, family businesses and farms, and the people who have preserved the customs of their ancestors. Natural wonders and fascinating, warm, friendly people await you. Clay County Kentucky historic hamlets include Alger, Ammie, Ashers Fork, Barcreek, Benge, Bernice, Big Creek, Bluehole, Botto, Brightshade, Brutus, Burning Springs, Chestnutburg, Cottongim, Creekville, Deer Lick, Eriline, Fall Rock, Felty, Fogertown, Gardner, Garrard, Goose Rock, Grace, Hector, Hensley, Hima, Hooker, Jacks Creek, Larue, Laurel Creek, Lincoln, Littleton, Marcum, Mill Pond, Ogle, Oneida, Panco, Peabody, Pigeonroost, Plank, Portersburg, Queendale, Sextons Creek, Shepherdtown, Sibert, Sidell, Spring Creek, Spurlock, Tanksley, Teges, Trixie, Urban, Vine and Wild Cat.

Clay County Kentucky Parks

Within the City Limits of Manchester, KY is a unique park system that, when connected by a riverside walking trail of serene beauty, offers the visitor a chance to soak up some of the early history not only of Manchester and Clay County, but southeast Kentucky as well.

The key to the historic park system is the River Walk Trail that begins on the north end of town at Rawlings/ Stinson Park, and ends at the south end at the Goose Creek Salt Works Pioneer Village. This unique trail is anchored at the north by the famous Red Bird Petgroglyph, the large rock of national reknown that contains ancient inscriptions by either European explorers, or Indians, or both. The trail itself follows the route of the Warrior's Path, one of the most historically significant trails in American History. Created by buffalo searching for salt deposits, the route was used for countless years by Indians traveling between the Smoky Mountains in the south and the wilderness north of the Ohio River. The trail was used by long hunters and explorers, including Dr. Thomas Walker who followed it in this section of Goose Creek in 1750, and by Daniel Boone 19 years later in 1769.

Begin your riverside journey at the north end of Rawlings/Stinson Park, home to the world famous Red Bird River Shelter Petroglyphs. A park sign marks the trail. Enjoy a scenic walk along Goose Creek on the River Walk Trail. The views of the river and woods are breathtaking. Pass by the Manchester Goose Creek Swinging Bridge, or enjoy an exciting diversion by crossing this fascinating relic of Appalachian heritage. Lovingly restored, this footbridge leads to the historic village of Downtown Manchester featuring Heritage Pavilion with interpretive signs of the county’s history.

Just past the swinging bridge lies Riverside Park overlooking Goose Creek. Goose Creek itself was one of the most important waterways in early Kentucky history. The state legislature recognized its importance as a way to transport extremely valuable salt from the salt works early on and passed several acts to help improve it for navigation for salt barges. The walker will have to use his imagination to visualize 60-foot barges loaded with salt barrels floating down the river during "salt tides" -- so called spring and winter floods.

Finally, at the south end of the trail is the recreation of the Goose Creek Salt Works, which was located at this spot beginning in the mid 1790s when it was known as the Langford Works. The small community here was designated by the State Legislature to serve as the county seat when the county was created in April 1807. The first court met in the cabin of Robert Baker, most likely very similar to the Cotton Cabin seen here now, which according to several sources was built before the county was formed. It was moved here from its original location on the "Cotton Bend" downstream, where salt barge maker Jesse Cotton lived in it with his wife Jane.
  • Rawlings/Stinson Park
The north end of the historic River Walk Trail walking path, anchored by the nationally known Red Bird Petroglyph rock with ancient inscriptions. Features include a crumb rubber walking track that circles the park, a large covered stage for outdoor concerts, a playground, a wedding gazebo, Clay County Veterans Memorial, large shelter houses with grills, a concrete boat ramp on Goose Creek, and a shaded walking trail along beautiful and historic Goose Creek that connects Rawlings/Stinson Park to the Goose Creek Swinging Bridge, Riverside Park and Goose Creek Salt Works.
  • River Walk Trail
This beautiful trail along the river follows the route of the famous Warrior's Path, the ancient trail made by buffalo then by Indians for countless years before being used by explorers such as Dr. Thomas Walker, who passed by here in 1750, and Daniel Boone, who also came this way on his first extended hunting trip to Kentucky in 1769. River Walk Trail starts in Rawlings/Stinson Park, passes by the Goose Creek Swinging Bridge connecting to Historic Downtown Manchester, then leads to Riverside Park, followed by Goose Creek Salt Works.
  • Goose Creek Swinging Bridge
Manchester's Goose Creek Swinging Bridge was originally constructed to replace the old wagon bridge that was washed away in the Flood of 1947. This unique icon of cultural heritage literally connects the area's history...the Warrior's Path on Goose Creek to the Heritage Pavilion on Manchester on the Square. Walking the Goose Creek Swinging Bridge takes you back in time. The Goose Creek Swinging Bridge, recently restored, connects Clay County with the historical narratives of the whole state of Kentucky.
  • Riverside Park
On the banks of Goose Creek, the water course by which early salt makers shipped their product to the Bluegrass in the late 1790s up until the Civil War...when winter and spring floods made it possible to navigate their 60-foot salt barges. This park features a pavilion, scenic views and River Walk Trail...connecting it to Goose Creek Salt Works to the south, and Goose Creek Swinging Bridge and Rawlings/Stinson Park to the north.
  • Goose Creek Salt Works
The most historic spot in the county. It was here in the mid-1790s that the Langford Salt Works was established and later, in 1807, when it was being called the Goose Creek Salt Works. This is where the first county government was formed in a cabin most likely like the Cotton Cabin, which was moved to this site. The Cotton Cabin is one of the oldest log structures in Kentucky.
  • Bert T. Combs Park & Lake & Governor's RV Park
Located in the center of Clay County, Bert T. Combs City Park offers nonmotorized boating opportunities, while the park offers a large swimming pool, playground, covered picnic pavilions, hot showers and restrooms. This park, one of the best-kept secrets in the Daniel Boone National Forest, is nestled in a beautiful mountain valley at the forks of the head waters of Beech Creek, about three and a half miles northeast of Manchester on Beech Creek Road. Governor’s RV Park & Campground offers mountain scenery and features trails that take those hardy enough to walk or ride horses to the tops of the ridges that define the park. It has 75 campsites, many with electric hook-ups, water and dump station. There is a large community swimming pool and kiddie pool, tennis and basketball courts, and a banquet room complete with kitchen and event facilities. A large shelter house adjacent to the RV park has room for 250-300 people along with grills and electricity. Bert T. Combs Lake is a short walk from the park. Located on a hillside adjacent to the center is the final resting place of former Kentucky Governor Bert T. Combs.
  • Splash Park
Located on Town Branch Road next to Mountain View Heights, this park features a sprinkler pad for kids with several spraying fountains. A skaters and skateboarders section is adjacent to the splash pad. Change rooms and bathrooms are available. A shelter for adults with picnic tables is on site.
  • Martin L. King Park
Located in the Pennington Hill section off the four lane near the Eastern Kentucky University Manchester Campus, this park features a play ground and shelter.
  • Equestrian Trail
Set in the beautiful Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky, the Bert T. Combs Equestrian Trail offers the area’s best horseback riding. As you ride along the 3 ½  miles of mapped trails (provided by request), plus unlimited miles of trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest and Beech Creek Wildlife Management Area, you will experience nature at its best. The Equestrian Trail offers breathtaking views, wildlife and several picnic areas with amenities for both you and your horses. There are picnic tables and trash receptacles for you and hitching posts and natural springs to water your horses. Surrounded by the Beech Creek Wildlife Management Area and the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Equestrian Trail provides easy access to the 25 acre Bert T. Combs Lake.
  • Cawood Recreation Area
A Daniel Boone National Forest picnic area is by a hemlock shaded creek at an old Civilian Conservation Corps Camp. Cawood Picnic area is also used for weddings, birthdays, church socials, reunions and Boy Scout outings. In-ground and pedestal grills, picnic tables, horse shoe pits and toilet facilities are available. There are no developed trails in the area, but lots of room to explore.
  • Big Double Creek
A scenic picnic area is located near Big Double Creek in Daniel Boone National Forest. The picnic area contains two large fields suitable for baseball, volleyball, football, and kickball. There are also in-ground grills, picnic tables and toilet facilities. It is suitable for community picnics, family outings, reunions, weddings, birthdays, and school events.
  • Redbird Wildlife Management Area
The Daniel Boone National Forest Redbird Wildlife Management Area is hilly to steep with gentle slopes in bottomlands and on ridge tops; mostly forested with approximately 100 acres of openings and 25 miles of improved hiking trails. No developed facilities. Mobility impaired access to permit holders on designated area, which is currently the Redbird Crest Trail.
  • Big Hickory Golf Course
Situated on a rolling knoll made by the Cotton Bend of historic Goose Creek, the course is surrounded by lush, hardwood forest-covered mountains. The course is owned by the City of Manchester and is accessed off Beech Creek Road (on the way to Bert T. Combs Park). Just follow the signs. Beautiful Big Hickory Golf Course is a challenging 9-hole layout that offers the best golf value in Kentucky. Its beautiful Bermuda fairways and immaculate undulating bent grass greens provide a golfing experience that is a thrill for all ages and skill levels. It is a 3,000 yard course that plays to a par 36 and includes a variety of holes framed by scenic trees as well as ponds and streams. Its signature hole is the par 4 ninth whose green is fashioned in the shape of the state of Kentucky. Big Hickory Golf Course is located at 521 Big Hickory Rd, Manchester, KY 40962. Call (606) 598-8053 for additional details.
  • Oneida Park
Located in the tiny village of Oneida in northern Clay County on RT 66, this beautiful community park features a pavilion, large meadow area, walking and jogging path, playgrounds, and a basketball court. 
James Anderson Burns' Museum & Gift Shop, the Kentucky River and the Oneida Baptist Institute are close by. Explore the scenic back roads in the area featuring historic barns, untamed nature, old swinging bridges, mountains, hollows, streams and forests.

Clay County Appalachian History
  • Historic Salt Works
Historic Salt Works in Manchester was established due to the presence of many salt springs. Daniel Boone offered a plan to reroute the Wildnerness Road to pass by the headwaters of Goose Creek. The production of salt led to Manchester becoming a major trade center. During the Civil War and thereafter, the salt works became a point of contention and led to long-term feuds and skirmishes. The Baker-White feud started in the 1820s and continued until 1932. The feud claimed roughly 150 lives; the deadliest such struggle east of the Mississippi.

The City of Manchester and the Clay County Genealogical and Historical Society have teamed up to create one of the most exciting historical sites in eastern Kentucky with the re-creation of the famous Goose Creek Salt Works at the site it occupied in the mid-1790s. It was one of the state's most important industries. This was also the site, in April 1807, where the newly formed Clay County came into existence making the salt works the first county seat. It was the center of government for the huge territory of SE Kentucky that encompassed all the headwaters of the Kentucky River -- North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Fork -- and their tributeries, including adjacent Goose Creek. The site was situated squarely on the famous Warrior's Path, the early Indian trail used by Kentucky's first explorers, including Dr. Thomas Walker who passed by the site in 1750, and Daniel Boone in 1769.

The cabins at Goose Creek Salt Works include Cotton Cabin, one of the oldest log cabins in Kentucky dating from the 1790s, around the time the salt works started producing salt commercially. Interpretive signs lead visitors through the entire history of the site.
  • Red Bird River Shelter Petroglyphs
The Red Bird River Shelter Petroglyphs are a series of petroglyphs, or carvings, on a stone in Manchester, Kentucky. The petroglyphs have been interpreted as inscriptions in at least 8 Old World alphabets, all of which were extinct when Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492. The rock was enrolled on the National Register of Historic Places in September 1989. On December 7, 1994, the 50 ton stone stone fell from a sandstone cliff above the Red Bird River and rolled onto Highway 66 at Lower Red Bird. On December 9, 1994, it was transported to its present location, where it is roofed over and fenced. The alphabets apparently inscribed on the stone include 1st century Greek and Hebrew, as well as Old Libyan, Old Arabic and Iberian-Punic which probably dates from the 9th century BC. Ogam, Germanic Runes, and Tiffinag-Numidian inscriptions have also been identified. It has been argued that finding eight different languages inscribed in one place is highly unlikely, and that the claims are fanciful interpretations of the evidence. The inscriptions on the rock have been compared to other Cherokee inscriptions in the area, and it has been suggested that those on the rock have been altered in modern times. The interpretation that the petroglyphs represent Old World inscriptions has been linked to 18th century arguments that the Cherokee Nation had no right to live in Kentucky as an ancient white race settled here before them.
  • James Anderson Burns' Cabin Museum & Gift Shop

James Anderson Burns' cabin houses the Oneida Baptist Institute Museum & Gift Shop in the little village of Oneida. The two room museum offers a glimpse into the rich and fascinating history of Oneida, Ky. A large gift shop includes handmade items by volunteers, Oneida clothing and souvenirs, books, decor, antiques and more. A thrift store is also located nearby with proceeds benefiting the school. The school sits on a knob overlooking the confluence of Goose Creek and the Red Bird River, which forms the South Fork of the Kentucky River. The Oneida Baptist Institute was founded in 1899 by Professor James Anderson Burns as a way to help stop the feuding at the end of the 19th Century. Burns hoped that by educating the children of the feuders they would find better uses for their time. In 1899, Burns, a former feuder himself, gathered some of the feuding residents of the area and convinced them to support a school. The little boarding school on the knoll overlooking its namesake town has played a large part in the history of Clay County and has attracted students from around the world.
  • Dillon Asher Cabin
The Asher house is a log cabin built around 1799 on the site of what later became the grounds of the Red Bird Community Hospital. Dillion Asher's cabin is one of the oldest structures in Clay County. The well-preserved structure is thought to have been built around the time Asher located on the waters of upper Red Bird. Asher moved to the area when the only known resident was John Gilbert. Asher had served as the keeper of the toll gate at Cumberland Ford on the Wilderness Road at Cumberland Ford, the site of present-day Pineville, since the toll gate was established in 1795. Asher was on the grand jury the day the first Clay County court was seated, April 13, 1807. He went on to establish a large clan of Ashers in Clay and Leslie Counties and was a major player in the early development of the timber industry in Clay County. The cabin is located at the Red Bird Mission Hospital at the far southern end of Clay County on KY 66, an especially scenic drive that takes you from Oneida through the sparsely settled Red Bird Purchase Unit of the Daniel Boone National Forest.
  • Heritage Pavilion
The Clay County Genealogical and Historical Society's Heritage Pavilion is located on the Square in Manchester. The copper-topped structure serves as a visual symbol of Clay County’s heritage. The pavilion contains three large interpretive signs that recount the county’s history from before its founding, to well into the 20th Century, focusing on early history and places and of some of the most prominent people of historical interest. 

The first sign is a graphic rendering of the county’s “Historical Trails and Places,” and guides the visitor along the famous Warrior’ Path that traversed the county from north to south and was followed by such early explorers as Dr. Thomas Walker and Daniel Boone in the mid to late 1700s, and countless Indians before them. The graphic also maps out some of the earliest roads funded by the state legislature in the early 1800s that were built expressly for getting salt from several Goose Creek works to customers in the Bluegrass and in other states. This sign shows the location of several of the salt works, and contains pertinent information.

The second sign details the significant Civil War activity that took place within the border of the county from 1861 to 1864. The sign takes the visitor from the raid on the Goose Creek salt works by Rebel forces under the command of Gen. Felix Zollicoffer before the first battle of the war in Kentucky, and through the years of skirmishing between the armies around Manchester and on Red Bird, and details the destruction of the five major salt works by Union forces that was carried out in order to keep salt out of Confederate hands. Much of the sign details the activities of Clay County’s famous Colonel (later Brigadier General), T. T. Garrard, in the county.

The third sign gives brief biographies and photos or renderings of some of the most historically prominent Clay County citizens, and shows where they lived and are buried. Included on this sign is the first known settler of the county, John Gilbert, a long hunter who decided to settle on Red Bird at the close of the American Revolution and raised a large family there with his wife, Mollie Bowling. Others detailed on the sign are:
  • Brigadier General Theopolis Toulmin Garrard, one of the county’s leading salt makers, and a hero of the Civil War for his brave leadership at the battles of Perryville (Kentucky) and Vicksburg (Mississippi) and numerous other battles. Garrard, who was prominent in local political affairs, continued to wield influence locally and statewide until his death.
  • Laura White, who was home schooled at her home at Goose Rock and went on to attain prominence far beyond the borders of Clay County by her pioneering educational activities, which included stints at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Sorbonne in Paris, France. Ms. White, after traveling widely in Europe, came back to Clay County to successfully transition her father’s salt business to the emerging timber business toward the end of the 1800s.
  • Governor Bert T. Combs, widely considered Kentucky’s most progressive governor and a champion of school integration and of education in general. He was born and raised on Beech Creek, schooled at Oneida Baptist Institute, and is buried at the Beech Creek Cemetery, scene of the largest state funeral in Kentucky history upon his death.
  • General Hugh White, patriarch of the powerful White Family of salt makers, who, with the purchase of the old Collins Salt Works in 1804, was more instrumental than any other with putting the county on the map and establishing what was for a while Kentucky’s most important industry.
  • David Yancy Lyttle, the famous Manchester lawyer who is credited with being “The Father of Kentucky Education” for his efforts after the Civil War in providing free education to Kentucky’s school children.
  • Colonel Daniel Garrard, father of General T. T., son of Kentucky’s second governor, James. He was instrumental (along with General Hugh White) in establishing the salt industry that became famous nation wide. Colonel Garrard distinguished himself by leading a significant number of Clay County men to the northwest territories (near Fort Detroit and into Canada) during the War of 1812.
  • Martha Hogg, a business woman who donated much of the land where Oneida Baptist Institute and the town of Oneida were built. Mrs. Hogg, who with her husband C. L. Coldiron, owned what became the legendary Webb Hotel in Manchester, went on after Coldiron’s death to become one of the county’s leading business people despite laws that curtailed such activity by women.
  • Nancy Potter was, like Martha Hogg, was at a disadvantage in business because of her sex. Upon the death of her husband, Robert, she was able to have the courts declare her a “femme sole”, which allowed her to take over the family business that she parlayed into a significant real estate and financial empire in the late 1800s.
  • Elijah Griffin, one of the county’s relative few free black men in the time of slavery, and who had to be issued a permit even to travel about in 1827, went on to achieve remarkable success in the white business world of Clay County in the early part of the Nineteenth Century.
  • Colonel Reuben May, salt maker, postmaster at Mount Welcome (Goose Rock), and an officer in the Eighth Kentucky Infantry in the Civil War. He went on the lead the Seventh Kentucky at Vicksburg after his friend, Colonel T. T. Garrard, was promoted to Brigadier General.
  • John White, son of Hugh, was one of the early Manchester lawyers who went on to represent Madison County in the state legislature, then on the U. S. Congress where he served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, perhaps the highest office ever attained by a Clay Countian.
  • Rooster Branch Swinging Bridge
This cherished relic of times gone, still in use, hangs above the Kentucky River in a breathtakingly beautiful location. A suspension bridge is an early type of bridge that is supported entirely from anchors at either end, suspended from two high locations over a river or canyon. This type of bridge is also known as a rope bridge due to its historical construction based on the ancient Inca rope bridge. Take HWY 11 north from Oneida 5 miles to Rocky Branch Rd. Turn right onto Rocky Branch Rd, go about 1.5 miles. The swinging bridge is at the intersection of Rocky Branch and Rooster Branch (dirt road).
  • Laurel Point Cemetery: Revolutionary War Veteran Adoniram Allen Final Resting Place
Captain Adoniram "Capt. Teges" Allen was one of the early Clay County settlers who arrived around 1806, most likely as a result of a land grant for his services in the Revolution. He distinguished himself in fighting at the famous Battle of Kings Mountain in North Carolina. Born in 1734, Allen was a contemporary of George Washington and is the oldest known settler to have lived in Clay County, older even than John Gilbert. Allen erected one of the first grist mills in the county on the South Fork near the "Narrows" that stood for many decades. He is the progenitor of Clay County's extended Allen family. The cemetery is reachable by car on a gravel road. To reach it, take HWY 11 north from Oneida 5 miles to Rocky Branch Rd. Turn right onto Rocky Branch Rd, go about 1.5 miles to just before the Old Swinging Bridge. Go right, then left, to cross the low water bridge. Follow the gravel road, New Found Rd, to Laurel Point Cemetery. The cemetery is on the right.
  • Cedar Valley School Ruins
The Cedar Valley School stands as an elegant ruin in a setting of unsurpassed beauty on the banks of the South Fork of the Kentucky River in northern Clay County. The school was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The workmanship is a thing to behold. The remote spot is reachable by car on a gravel road. Take HWY 11 north from Oneida 5 miles to Rocky Branch Rd. Turn right onto Rocky Branch Rd, go about 1.5 miles to just before the Old Swinging Bridge. Turn right, then left, to cross the low water bridge. Follow the gravel road, New Found Rd, to Laurel Point Cemetery. Beyond the cemetery, about a mile or so, turn left on Cedar Valley Road and follow it a short distance to the school. The school ruins will be on the left in a field.
  • Old Homeplace Swinging Bridge
This unique, all-metal swinging bridge, is located 1.4 miles south of Oneida, KY on the east side of HWY 11 across from the gas plant. There is also a low water driving bridge offering photo opportunities. Just a few minutes south of the swinging bridge, take an incredibly scenic drive on Sutton Branch Rd. Go south on KY-11 South for 4.2 miles. Turn left onto Beech Creek Rd, then left onto Chandler Br Rd, then right onto Sutton Branch Rd.
  • Frazier Rd Swinging Bridge
This work of art, hanging above the Goose Creek, was recently restored by local families to allow pedestrian access over the river during flooding. From Oneida, head south on KY-11 South for 6.8 miles. Turn left on Frazier Rd, go .4 mile (veer right at Goose Creek to stay on Frazier Rd.) For a scenic, country drive, continue on Frazier Rd which will come back out on KY-11 after 5.3 miles.
  • Red Bird Swinging Bridges
Numerous old, weathered bridges swing over the Red Bird River south of Oneida. From Oneida, take HWY 66 South for 4.6 miles to Martin Cemetery Rd. Turn right onto Martin Cemetery Rd. An old swinging bridge is on the left. Another .4 mile south on HWY 66 turn right onto Salmon Rd. Cross the river and veer left for .3 mile to the Swinging Bridge Farms bridge, still in use. An additional .8 mile south on HWY 66, turn right on Laurel Branch Rd and take Laurel Branch Rd about 1/4 mile. A bridge will be on the left. About 1 more mile south on HWY 66, turn right onto Bar Creek Rd to view another swinging bridge. Continuing south on HWY 66 for 24 miles takes visitors on an especially scenic drive to Red Bird Mission, home of the historic Dillon Asher Cabin and Red Bird Mission Crafts. Dillon Asher's cabin is one of the oldest structures in Clay County. Red Bird Mission Crafts offers Appalachian crafts including works by gifted artisans in wood carving, weaving, basket-making, toy making and corn shuck flower name a few. Red Bird Mission has been marketing local crafts since the early 1960’s and continues to be a source of secondary income to mountain families today.
  • OBI Swinging Bridge
This well maintained swinging bridge is located on the south side of the Oneida Baptist Institute campus in Oneida, KY. It connects the ball fields on the campus to OBI Farm Rd. Also on the campus is the James Anderson Burns' Museum & Gift Shop. The two room museum offers a glimpse into the rich and fascinating history of the area. The Oneida Baptist Institute was founded in 1899 by Professor James Anderson Burns as a way to help stop the feuding at the end of the 19th Century. It has grown into an outreach to young people from around the world. The large gift shop includes handmade items by volunteers. Nearby is the Oneida Park, the South Fork of the Kentucky River and numerous back-roads providing stunning scenery, an abundance of nature and wildlife, family farms, rivers and creeks, rolling mountains and historic weathered barns. From KY-11 near Downtown Oneida, go northeast on KY-66 South/Riner St to 2nd St. Turn right onto 2nd St. 2nd St becomes Oneida Bottom Rd. Go about .3 mile and turn right on OBI Farm Rd. Follow it around the farm to the swinging bridge.
  • Sextons Creek Swinging Bridges
From Oneida, take HWY 11 N for about 9 miles. Turn left onto KY-577 W and drive about 3.5 miles. A swinging bridge will be on the left. Continue south for about 1 mile to another swinging bridge; restored with remnants remaining of the original structure. Also nearby is Bishop Bend. While not technically a park, Bishop Bend offers breathtaking views of the river, hiking and ATV opportunities, and scenic nature. Bishop Bend is an old road originally populated by the Bishop Clan that housed the Bishop Bend School. An old cemetery, Bishop Cemetery, is still located on Bishop Bend School Road. To reach Bishop Bend from the Sexton Creek swinging bridges, turn right on HWY 11 going south, heading back towards Oneida. Go about 1.9 miles. Bishop Bend will be on the left.
  • Old Joe Clark Home
From Oneida, take HWY 11 N for about 9 miles. Turn left onto KY-577 W and drive about 9 miles to
 the Old Joe Clark Home. The legends are many about Joe Clark, of Sexton Creek. The text on the Kentucky Historical Highway marker refers to just one. He was a soldier in Clay County's Colonel T. T. Garrard's Seventh Kentucky Infantry in the Civil War and fought in the Battle of Wildcat, the first battle of the war in Kentucky in the fall of 1861. A mountain ballad sung during World War I, and later wars by soldiers from eastern Kentucky, featured this shiftless and rough mountaineer. His enemies were legion; he was murdered in 1885. In the moonshining days of 1870s, he ran a government-supervised still.
  • Bullskin Creek Swinging Bridge
From Oneida, head northwest on HWY 66. Continue onto HWY 1482. Go 7.7 miles to Martin Branch Rd. Turn right onto Martin Branch Rd. An old, weathered swinging bridge lies across scenic Bullskin Creek. Just minutes from the swinging bridge is one of the area's best kept secrets, Leatherwood Recreation Area. This beautiful picnic area and boating destination offers breathtaking views of the lake and mountains. Continue northeast on HWY 1482. Go 1.6 miles. Turn left onto Hwy 484. Go 5.7 miles. The road dead ends at the park.

View the Clay County Brochure

Gateway to the Redbud & Elk Capitals of Kentucky

With over 11,000 elk, Southeast Kentucky has more elk than any state east of the Rockies and has been declared the "Elk Capital of the East." Clay County is the “Gateway to Elk Country”. Located in the heart of white-tailed deer, wild turkey and elk country, Clay County provides unlimited opportunities for wildlife viewing. The majority of Clay County lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest as part of the Redbird District.

Clay County is also the gateway to the "Redbud Capital of Kentucky." Each Spring thousands of redbuds bloom in the majestic mountains of eastern Kentucky along Daniel Boone/Hal Rogers Parkway and historic Highway 80, providing a breathtaking drive into the “Redbud Capital of Kentucky". In the wild, eastern redbud is a frequent native understory tree in mixed forests and hedgerows. The flowers are showy, light to dark magenta pink in color, and appear in clusters from Spring to early Summer on bare stems before the leaves. The flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees such as blueberry bees and carpenter bees. After the redbud bloom, dogwood flowers decorate the county fence rows, followed soon after by sarvis blooms.

Explore The Daniel Boone National Forest

Daniel Boone National Forest is located along the Cumberland Plateau in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky. The forest encompasses over 707,000 acres of mostly rugged terrain. The land is characterized by steep forested ridges dissected by narrow ravines and over 3,400 miles of sandstone cliffs. Daniel Boone National Forest is one of the most heavily used forests in the South, with over 5 million visitors annually. People come here to backpack, camp, picnic, rock climb, boat, ride and relax. Daniel Boone is comprised of four ranger districts: Cumberland, London, Stearns and Redbird.

Millions of visitors come to enjoy the scenic Appalachian beauty and abundant wildlife that the forest has to offer. Cave Run Lake and Laurel River Lake are popular attractions of the forest. Other special areas include the Red River Gorge Geological Area, Natural Arch Scenic Area, Clifty Wilderness, Beaver Creek Wilderness, and five wildlife management areas.

Over 600 miles of trails provide a quiet escape to more remote places within the forest. Hikers, horseback riders and other trail users get back to nature along the 269-mile Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail that extends the entire length of the Daniel Boone. Hundreds of miles of winding rivers and streams provide the finishing touch in outdoor Appalachian beauty.

Come and discover what you've been missing. Daniel Boone National Forest is Appalachia's best in southern and eastern Kentucky.

Daniel Boone National Forest Attractions

Daniel Boone National Forest surrounds or contains a variety of popular and notable features, including:
  • One of the world's largest concentrations of caves
  • Cave Run Lake
  • Laurel River Lake
  • Buckhorn Lake
  • Red River Gorge Geologic Area - popular with hikers, campers, and rock climbers
  • Sheltowee Trace Trail
  • Natural Bridge State Park
  • Yahoo Arch
  • Yahoo Falls
  • Cumberland Falls

There are two areas designated as Wilderness:
  • Clifty Wilderness
  • Beaver Creek Wilderness
Daniel Boone National Forest is a haven to many species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and other wildlife including: black bears, deer, bobcats, chipmunks, squirrels, elk, fox, shrews, voles, opossums, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, wild turkeys, woodchucks, songbirds, hawks, owls, eagles, bats, vultures, hummingbirds, turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, salamanders and treefrogs.

The Appalachian forest consists of sloping hills, ridge top flats, narrow valleys, hardwood forests, bottom wildlands and miles of rivers and streams.

Daniel Boone National Forest Recreation Activities

The Appalachian forest contains three large lakes (Cave Run Lake, Laurel River Lake and Lake Cumberland), many rivers and streams, two wilderness areas, and the 269-mile Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail that extends across the length of the forest.

Abundant wildlife, lush vegetation, magnificent scenery and numerous recreation opportunities offer visitors much to enjoy. Please practice Trail Safety and Leave No Trace to make your visit safe and enjoyable while protecting resources we all enjoy.

Most national forest system lands are open and free of charge for your use and enjoyment. Entrance and user fees may be charged at some areas.

Daniel Boone Activities:
  • Auto Touring
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Historic & Cultural Sites
  • Horseback Riding
  • Interpretive Programs
  • Off Highway Vehicles
  • Picnicking
  • Recreational Vehicles
  • Visitor Centers
  • Water Sports
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Winter Sports
  • Photography
  • Appalachian Small Towns

Clay County Kentucky Four Seasons of Festivals

SPRING FEST - Redbud Festival

Car show, Redbud Ride, crafts, photo contest, food booths.

SUMMER FEST - Clay County Days

BBQ, fireworks, car show, movies in the park. Second and fourth Fridays through the summer.


Celebrate the Season in Clay County Kentucky.


Celebrate the Season in Clay County Kentucky.


Clay County Kentucky Off-Road Adventures
  • D & K Off-Road Park
Located in the Goose Rock community of Clay County, D & K Off-Road Park is a unique park featuring 3,150 acres of off-road fun. Challenge yourself with trails, mud, rocks and hills. The park also offers dirt drag racing under the lights. D & K Off-Road Park is a paradise for buggies, ATV’s, motorcycles, rock crawlers, jeeps and any other off-road vehicles. Tent and RV camping and cabins are available.
  • Redbird District OHV Trail
The Redbird District OHV Trail within the Daniel Boone National Forest is a 65-mile loop trail that begins and ends near the Redbird District Office in the eastern corner of Clay County. Located near Big Creek, the trail generally follows the ridge with some steep and rough areas. There are some areas so narrow that only single track vehicles can drive on them. It is a multiple-use trail; hikers, horses, mountain bikes, motorcycles and ATV’s under 50 inches are all welcome.


Clay County Kentucky's Farm Markets & Roadside Stands

There is something special about preparing home-cooked meals with fresh fruits and vegetables picked up at a farm market within hours of harvest. Discover farm fresh foods at Clay County's farm markets, roadside stands and small town grocers...offering the freshest produce and seasonal favorites. From homegrown potatoes, lettuce, corn, beans, cucumbers, broccoli  radishes, cider, gourds, and fall squash - to a vast array of fruits - you'll find everything you need for your cooking needs at Clay County's farmers markets and roadside stands.


Clay County Kentucky's Tag Sales

Clay County is known for its abundance of yard sales and roadside tag sales, including the annual East 80 Yard Sale...a 22 mile yard sale! The yard sale route goes through Manchester and London, KY along Hwy 80 each Labor Day Weekend from Thursday through Monday. In addition, several vendors malls and thrift stores dot the county. Furniture, clothing, antiques, home decor, never know what you'll find around the county at local yard sales, vendors malls, thrift stores and roadside stands.


World Animal Foundation

Clay County Kentucky is home to the headquarters of the World Animal Foundation. WAF is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of the planet and the animals that inhabit it. WAF works with other not-for-profit organizations dedicated to planet preservation and animal issues. WAF works through public education, research, investigations, animal rescue, legislation, special events, and direct action.

WAF is an all volunteer organization with members throughout the world and on every continent. Through its volunteer network, the World Animal Foundation attempts to make the world a more compassionate place for all animals - wild animals, companion animals, aquatic animals and farm animals.


Henry L. Faulkner

Henry Lawrence Faulkner (January 9, 1924 – December 3, 1981) was a Kentucky born artist and poet known as an eccentric, cross-dressing rebel and bohemian. Faulkner is best known for his wildly colorful oil paintings and bizarre acts, including his bringing a bourbon-drinking goat to parties and art shows.

Faulkner was born in Holland, Kentucky in 1924. Following his mother’s death in 1926, he and his ten brothers and sisters were placed in a children’s home in Louisville, Kentucky. By 1930 he had been placed in several foster homes, but eventually settled in Falling Timber, in Clay County.

He was always interested in art, making his early paints from poke berries and other natural materials. At age 15 he enrolled in the Louisville School of Art. In 1942 he began what was to be a long period of traveling.

He seemed destined to be connected to celebrities. He was incarcerated in a mental ward with Ezra Pound, whom he befriended. His art was sought after by many serious art collectors and celebrities, such as Bette Davis, Marlon Brando, Nat King Cole, Phyllis George and Vincent Price. Socialite Anita Madden, famous for her wild Derby parties, was a friend of Faulkner’s. In 1959 he met Tennessee Williams and a life-long friendship began.

He would travel back and forth from Kentucky to Florida until his death. In 1961 he went to Taormina, Sicily, in Italy, and it was there he perfected his painting style. In the mid-sixties, he made Lexington his permanent summer home and the Florida Keys his winter home.

Faulkner loved cats, chickens and goats, of which he had many. One of his favorites was a goat named Alice who loved to drink bourbon and even accompanied Faulkner to a court appearance once.

Faulkner continued his painting, writing and traveling throughout the seventies. Never losing his awe of nature, he often expressed himself in paintings of flora and fauna. He was an avid collector of furniture, antiques and clothing on which he spent all of his earnings. His personal style, wit and imagination left lasting impressions on all who met him. He died in 1981 as a result of an automobile accident.


Red Bird Mission Crafts

Nestled down in the Red Bird River Valley along the Red Bird River off HWY 66 is Red Bird Mission Craft Store. Appalachian crafts include works by gifted artisans in wood carving, weaving, basket-making, toy making and corn shuck flower name a few. Red Bird Mission has been marketing local crafts since the early 1960’s and continues to be a source of secondary income to mountain families today. Located at 70 Queendale Center, Beverly, KY. For additional information call 800-898-2709.


Educational Excellence
  • EKU Manchester

For over 100 years, Eastern Kentucky University has been creating opportunities and fulfilling dreams. Whether it is through providing the education for a first generation college graduate or offering outreach to communities across EKU’s twenty-two county service region, possibilities are realized at Eastern. Housed in the heart of that service region is the Manchester Regional Campus. Emphasizing Eastern’s commitment to providing educational opportunities to the area, the campus serves students from Clay, Bell, Laurel, Owsley, Perry, Knox, Jackson, Leslie and the surrounding area. EKU Manchester offers more than 100 classes each semester to more than 300 students.

50 University Dr, Stivers Building, Manchester, KY 40962 - (606) 598-8122
  • Clay County Schools

Clay County Public Schools believes strongly that we have the best students in the world, and we take seriously the role that we have in partnering with our families to ensure that students receive the best education possible.

128 Richmond Rd, Manchester, KY 40962 - (606) 598-2168
  • Clay County Library

Visit Clay County Public Library in person, or online, for your information and entertainment needs.

211 Bridge St, Manchester, KY 40962 - (606) 598-2617
  • Oneida Baptist Institute

OBI is a boarding and day school for students, Christian or non-Christian, in grades 6-12. OBI provides a structured living, learning and working environment in which each student is challenged to grow mentally, physically and socially. Students meet people from across the United States and around the world. They also experience daily chores and responsibilities, receive individual attention in class and have a chance to join sports or other curriculars.

11 Mulberry St, Oneida, KY 40972 - (606) 847-4111


Elk Hill Regional Business Park - Clay County KY

The Elk Hill Regional Business Park area is 1,000 acres operated by the Elk Hill Regional Industrial Authority, serving Clay County, Leslie County and Knox County. The site is located five miles east of Manchester, KY in scenic Clay County and sits south of the Hal Roger Parkway, north of US 421, and east of KY 149. For more information, contact County Judge/Executive, Clay County Fiscal Court, 102 Richmond Road, Suite 201, Manchester, KY 40962, 606-598-2071.