Old Frankfort Pike National Scenic Byway

The Old Frankfort Pike Historic and Scenic Byway extends over 15 miles through a memorable historic landscape of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region. Many Bluegrass roads provide enjoyable scenic moments. But Old Frankfort Pike invites the traveler on an extraordinary drive through miles of countryside that was once typical of the Kentucky’s Inner Bluegrass, but survives today in very few places with such cohesion and integrity. Here, traditional diversified agriculture and the international equine industry thrive and coexist in a unique landscape that has evolved over the past 200 years.


Since early exploration and settlement, agriculture has dominated and transformed the Bluegrass region. This notably distinct topographic and geological area known as Karst, rests at the center of the Commonwealth. The region is a gently rolling plain of deep loam soils atop phosphate-rich limestone; wild with springs that flow for miles only to sink underground or disappear into caves. It is one of the richest agricultural areas in the world, renown as the birthplace and home of the Thoroughbred horse.


Lexington, the Commonwealth’s second largest city is the region’s hub, with roads radiating outward to the surrounding county seats like spokes of a wheel. Old Frankfort Pike, connecting Lexington with the state capital at Frankfort, is one such spoke, with the distinction that along either side of the road, as far as the eye can see, lay some of the most productive land in the region – even by Bluegrass standards.


Along its relatively short length, Old Frankfort Pike passes through six National Register Historic Districts, and by numerous individually significant historic properties. In all, thousands of historic buildings, structures, sites, and landscapes encompassing over 20,000 acres are contained within these distinctive historic areas and all are linked by the Byway. This unusual and fortunate concentration of historic resources along Old Frankfort Pike elevates the scenic drive into a singular and unique experience.  While the ages of the significant resources span centuries and illustrate multiple historical subjects, each District and property expresses one or more distinct facet of Bluegrass history including:


•         The influence of geology, water, and soil on the landscape, agriculture and people

•         Agriculture. Prosperity, diversity, and transformation over 225 years

•         The Thoroughbred Horse. The legacy of the blooded horse in Kentucky, America and the world, from local origins to international prominence.

•         The challenges of farmland conservation and historic preservation in an increasingly urban environment.


Travelers can make a leisurely, non-stop drive along Old Frankfort Pike from US 60 near Frankfort to the Visitor Viewing Area near Lexington (or vice-versa) in about ½ hour. The entire route is two-lanes with signed speeds of 35-55 mph. There is one four-way stop at the intersection of Midway Road (US 62, a Kentucky Scenic Byway), and one roundabout near the Lexington terminus. It’s a direct route, but options abound for viewing, visiting, eating and touring at locations along the byway and for side trips into neighboring historic towns, communities and places.


The Byway passes through a series of distinct rural landscapes including railroad stations, small rural communities, an unforgettable two mile road section canopied by trees and shouldered by historic dry-laid limestone fences, an historic tavern from the late eighteenth century, rural churches and cemeteries, and long farmland vistas to historic homes, barns, stables, and double-fenced fields where Thoroughbred horses thrive on bluegrass and limestone rich water. Along the byway are opportunities for dining, museum visiting, joining a horse farm tour, or taking a short side trip to neighboring attractions like Keeneland Race Track National Historic Landmark, Weisenberger Mill, and the historic railroad town of Midway. Near the east end of the byway, read about the history of the Pike and the surrounding neighborhood along the self-guided walking loop at the Old Frankfort Pike Visitor Viewing Area at the roundabout intersection of the Pike and Alexandria Drive. Finally, the McConnell Springs Visitor Center and Nature Sanctuary marks the original 1775 encampment where Lexington was named. This city park located off Old Frankfort Pike contains hiking trails through the nature preserve, archeological remains, sinks and springs, an amphitheater and education center.




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