Barren Fork Horse Camp

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

The Barren Fork Horse Camp, located on Stearns District of the Daniel Boone National Forest, is a popular campground for horseback riders who enjoy the forest setting. Several interconnecting trails provide miles of riding pleasure.

View Guide with Map

Barren Fork Area Trail Map, 11x17

The campground offers 41 campsites that accommodate horse trailers and RVs up to 35 feet. 

Visitors can also enjoy fishing at a nearby pond. A picnic shelter at the campground is available for group-use. 

Area Trails: Arabian #622 (4 miles) and Canter #625 (2.75 miles) are close to the horse camp and connect with other trails such as the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail  Section 30 (10 miles), Belgian #624 (3 miles), Flat Rock Ridge #616 (1.5 miles), Draft #617 (.75 miles), Indian Creek #626 (1.75 miles) and North Flat Rock #627 (3 miles). 

Site history: The Barren Fork Horse Camp was once the site of a coal mining town operated by the Barren Fork Mining and Coal Company. The mining activities occurred from 1881 to 1935, producing what was considered some of the best quality low-sulfur coal in McCreary County at the time.

Nearby Facilities: Barren Fork Picnic Area

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Campers only from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Reservations: The Barren Fork Picnic Shelter may be reserved for group-use, with no more than 10 in a group, by calling the Stearns office at 606-376-5323. Unless reserved, the shelter is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Area Amenities: Tent camping,Camping trailer,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water
Fees There is a fee for overnight camping. Visitors may pay at the site or buy a fee pass at the Stearns office. 
  • $8/day/site, $12/2 days/site: pay at site using fee envelope.
  • $100 annual pass. Buy annual pass at district office. 
Recreation Passes and Permits Where to buy your pass
Permit Info: A Special Use Permit is required for commercial activities (for example: fishing tournaments, boat rentals, trail rides, outfitter guides, races, etc). A permit is also required for all noncommercial group uses involving more than 75 people.
Open Season: April 1 - November 15
Usage: Light
  • Trails are closed to motorized vehicles.
  • The use of pickets, highlines or electric fences to tie up horses is prohibited. If a highline is strung between trees, the horse must be tied so that it cannot reach any trees. Riding, hitching, tethering or hobbling a horse or other saddle or back animal in violation of posted instructions is prohibited. (Order DB-07-15)
  • Food and trash storage is mandatory. Unless cooking or eating, store your food and trash inside a hardtop vehicle, the trunk of a car or a bear-resistant container. When camping in the backcountry hang your food at least 10 feet off the ground and four feet away from a tree. (Order DB-02-15)
  • Only two vehicles per campsite. The vehicles must be parked on gravel pull-ins. One of the vehicles at the campsite must display a pass. The pass must have both vehicle numbers listed.
  • Alcohol use is prohibited on national forest land and Kentucky lakes and waterways. (KRS 222.202) (Order DB-02-15)
  • Campfire must be DEAD OUT before leaving. (36 CFR 261.5)
  • No fires outside of a fire ring provided by the Forest Service or outside of a stove, grill or fireplace. (Order DB-02-15)
  • Negative Coggins Test Required. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture requires a negative Coggins or similar test for equine infectious anemia and a valid certificate of veterinary inspection.

The following are prohibited:

  • Overnight tethering or corralling of horses or other livestock, within 100 feet of stream courses or 300 feet of other water bodies (§261.58(aa)); (Order DB-02-15)
  • Failing to dispose of all garbage, including any paper, can, bottle, sewage, waste water or material, or rubbish either by removal from the site or area, or by depositing it into receptacles or at places provided for such purposes. (36 CFR 261.11)
  • Dumping of any refuse, debris, trash or litter brought as such from private property. (36 CFR 261.11)
  • Camping or maintaining a campsite for more than 14 consecutive days without having first terminated occupancy of that campground for a minimum of 10 days within a 31 day time frame. (Order DB-01-15)
  • Entering or remaining in a designated campground between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. except for persons occupying the campsite. (Order DB-01-15)
  • Failing to remove all camping equipment or personal property when vacating the site. 36 CFR 261.16 (f).
  • Occupying any portion of the site for other than recreation purposes. 36 CFR 261.16 (a).
  • Placing, maintaining, or using camping equipment except in a place specifically designated or provided for such equipment. 36 CFR 261.16 (g).
  • Leaving camping equipment unattended for more than 24 hours without permission. 36 CFR 261.16 (i).
  • Failing to have at least one person occupy a camping area during the first night after camping equipment has been set up. 36 CFR 261.16 (h).
Closest Towns: Whitley City, KY
Water: Potable and nonpotable water available.
Restroom: Vault toilets
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service
Information Center:
Stearns Ranger District
3320 US 27 North
Whitley City, KY 42653 

General Information

  • From Somerset, go south on US 27 for 22 miles to the Stearns office, on your left. From Whitley City, go north on US 27 for 3.7 miles to the Stearns office on your right.
  • From I-75: Take exit 25 for US 25W toward Corbin. Turn right at US-25W S/Cumberland Falls Road and go 7.4 miles then take a slight right at KY 90 W. Go 20 miles and turn south onto US 27 for 5.7 miles to Stearns office.

Next to Stearns office, take Barren Fork Road for (Forest Service Road 684) 0.8 miles. Turn right at the split in road. Go 0.1 mile. to campground at right.


Parking is available at the campsites. Day visitors must park in the overflow parking area. 


One toilet facility is accessible. 

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Camping & Cabins

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Horse Riding & Camping

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Camping trailer The campground can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet. There are no hookups or dump sites.
Picnic tables Picnic tables are available at the picnic shelter and at some camp sites.
Tent camping Campers without horses are welcome to camp here.
Toilets Vault toilets are available.
Drinking water Potable water is available from five faucets in the campground.