The small Appalachian mountain town of Middlesboro is a pleasant surprise after journeying through the 4,600 foot tunnel under Cumberland Gap from Tennessee. In and around Middlesboro you can walk Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road, learn about coal mining or hike to see the sights at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. When your sightseeing is done, enjoy outdoor recreation at the lakes and state parks surrounding Middlesboro.
Stop by the 1926 Bell County Coal House to begin your tour. Created from 42 tons of coal, the visitor's center is now housed here. Next door, see the outdoor Coal Mining Museum, featuring a mine locomotive. Stop nearby at the airport to visit "Glacier Girl", a World War II restored fighting plane, recovered from a Greenland ice cap.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, covering over 20,000 acres in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, preserves the passage in the mountains where over 300,000 pioneers passed through on their way West. The park offers hiking trails of varying difficulty. Don't miss the view from Pinnacle Overlook where, on a clear day, you can see four states and take great photos. Journey up Brush Mountain to Hensley Settlement, a restored 1903 mountain farm community with homes, schoolhouse and barns.
Enjoy bird watching, hiking and golfing at Pine Mountain State Resort Park at nearby Pineville. Stop by the park's Chained Rock, a huge boulder seemingly anchored by a chain 1,000 feet over the town of Pineville. Enjoy backcountry hiking or hunting at Kentucky Ridge State Forest or fish at Chenoa Lake.
Dining options include Ye Old Tea and Coffee Shop at the town of Cumberland Gap or traditional Kentucky dishes at Pine Mountain State Resort Park.
Middlesboro and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park are located 135 miles southeast of Lexington, KY. Take US 25 to I 75 south then US 25E south.