LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56) – Laurel County is now located at the center of U.S. Bicycle Route 21, which recently opened and spans across 10 counties in Kentucky.

The counties include Bell, Knox, Laurel, Rockcastle, Madison, Clark, Bourbon, Nicholas, Robertson, and Mason.

Since the route travels alongside historical landmarks where Daniel Boone and settlers back in 1775 originally paved the western movement, the route will be known as the “Daniel Boone Bike Route.”

“We’re trying to preserve Boone trace, so that’s a big boost in that effort,” President Dr. John Fox, President of Friends of Boone Trace, Inc. said.

With the completion of 350 road signs along a 265-mile stretch, Fox said this project was 12 years in the making.

USBR 21 KY Bike Route by Kerry Irons; Courtesy of Ride with GPS.

“Our mantra is we don’t give up, that’s the main thing. It’s been extremely frustrating at times, it’s been kind of like a roller coaster,” Fox said.

The Daniel Boone Bike Route starts in Atlanta, Ga., and ends in Cleveland, Ohio, and it can be traveled by paddling, horseback riding, and of course, cycling.

Cyclists will enter Kentucky through Middlesborough by way of the treacherous Cumberland Gap where thousands of settlers once passed through.

“It’s spiritual. You can literally feel their presence when you just kind of stop there and pause a little bit, listen to the bird’s chirp, you can get this kind of creepy feeling, like wow, you can see all their faces and hear them struggling through the gap,” Fox said.

“What I like riding about it is the variety in terrain,” cyclist Keith Cottongim said. “What a lot of people are saying is that they like it because of the low traffic.”

Cyclists passing through Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park on the Daniel Boone Bike Route. (Danielle Miskell)

While acknowledging the scenic route and low traffic, cyclists admit it is easy to forget what history the trail holds.

“You know initially I didn’t really put much thought into it, but then you sit back and you think about it. To me, it’s amazing. Today we got GPS and all these maps you can use. They had none of that,” Cottongim said.

In London, Ky., the city now anticipates a boost in its economy as more cyclists will be attracted to riding in the footsteps of Daniel Boone.

“The bicycling tourism industry is over an $8 billion dollar revenue potential, and the average cyclist that rides 500 miles will actually spend about $600 every eight days,” London-Laurel County Tourism Director, Kelly Burton, said.

So accommodations are primed and ready in London, better known as the “Cycling capital of Kentucky.” London also annually hosts “The Redbud Ride” and has had everything from restaurants to Airbnb’s to service the bicycle culture.

“The way that London and Laurel County is positioned, we are a halfway mark that I potentially see several cyclists staying overnight in London as they continue their route on Bike Route 21,” Burton said.

“We see cyclists from all over America and foreign countries,” Airbnb owner, Daniel Carmack, said. “They’ll come to London and plan on being here 3-4-5 days at a time because they get to see each other. It’s kind of a reunion of sorts for a lot of these cyclists and we love having them in Laurel County.”

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said that with this new route, Kentucky is now ranked as one of the top five states with the most miles on the U.S. Bicycle route system.

President Fox said this bike route is one of 51 projects currently running to preserve the Boone Trace Trail. While the enthusiasm of preserving this piece of Kentucky’s history has been touch and go, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, along with Berea College’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good Program, played a huge role in giving the project legs four years ago.

In downtown London, Kentucky, one of 350 signs mapping the Daniel Boone Bike Route. (Danielle Miskell)

The next project of importance will be focusing on grants to complete signage for an auto tour.

For cyclists ready to take a ride on the route, free digital maps are available to access on Ride with GPS.