The Prestonsburg Passage Rail Trail is an 8.6-mile linear trail in eastern Kentucky that offers a unique recreational experience to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. The trail connects Archer Park in West Prestonsburg, the Middle Creek National Battlefield, and David, weaving through a scenic bottomland area along Middle Creek. Along the way, the trail passes over six restored or rebuilt bridges, each offering a glimpse into the region’s industrial past.
The Middle Creek Subdivision of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad originally built the rail line that the Prestonsburg Passage Rail Trail now follows. Constructed between 1940-42, the railroad served two coal mines owned by the Princess Elkhorn Coal Company. The coal company also built the town of David to support its mining operations, complete with a company store, school, church, and other amenities.
When the mines closed in the late 1960s, David fell into disrepair. However, the town’s residents rallied to bring it back to life, securing funding to rebuild infrastructure and improve living conditions. The railroad line, which had been controlled by CSXT, fell into disuse in 2015 and was eventually abandoned. Recognizing the potential of the disused rail bed as a recreational asset, the mayor of Prestonsburg requested that it be preserved as a trail for recreational tourism. After several years of planning and development, the Prestonsburg Passage Rail Trail opened in August 2020. Today, visitors to the trail can explore the region’s history and natural beauty while enjoying a smooth, asphalt path that winds through some of eastern Kentucky’s most picturesque landscapes. With unique features like the former school bus that the trail crosses through, the Prestonsburg Passage Rail Trail offers an unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts.