The Warrior’s Path, known as Athiamiowee by the Shawnee Tribe, was a game and wildlife trail that was used by the Shawnee, Cherokee, and other American Indian tribes for centuries before pioneers started using the trail in the 18th century. The trail stretches across Eastern Kentucky from the Cumberland Gap and eastern Kentucky to the Ohio River.
The National Park Service (NPS) Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) has selected The Warrior’s Path project to receive expert consultation from the NPS to help spur local recreation, conservation, and economic development opportunities.
The project as envisioned by McKee Trail Town and the Olive Hill Council for Planning and Restoration will be developed as an educational and cultural corridor that follows the Warrior’s Path through perhaps 20 Eastern Kentucky counties. The goal, in partnership with the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission and the NPS, is to preserve the remnants of the path, increase public awareness by seeking National Heritage and Scenic Trails designations, and expand outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the trail system.
The final output of this project will be a master plan establishing motorized, bicycling, hiking, and horseback riding routes along the path while showcasing historic and cultural sites with signage and a digital guide. The partnership also seeks State and National Scenic Byway designation to further raise historical and cultural awareness of the Warrior’s Path while promoting economic development in the Eastern Kentucky region through outdoor recreation tourism.
The Warriors Path will be built into an educationally interactive, multi-use trail network that will connect existing and proposed routes across Eastern Kentucky and perhaps eventually extend south to the Gulf of Mexico and north to the Great Lakes. The trail will follow a ten-thousand-year-old trade route that tied the diverse people of North America in commerce. This ancient path will, once again, support and stimulate the economy of Eastern Kentucky by providing jobs in construction, tourism, and the revitalization of small businesses in isolated mountain towns.
The project will leverage and benefit Kentucky Trail Towns, preserve and promote cultural and historic sites, and honor and celebrate the forgotten Appalachians, the first Appalachians, the Native Americans. This will take the great effort of many, over a substantial time, but the rewards will be great, not only in the completion of this effort but the epic journey.