KY 197 begins at an intersection with KY 805 at a point northeast of Jenkins, within Pike County. It travels to the northeast, paralleling Elkhorn Creek, and is a very curvy highway. It crosses over Panther and Upper Pigeon branches and Sycamore Creek. In Ashcamp, the highway intersects the southern terminus of KY 195 (Ashcamp Road). After a crossing of Elkhorn Creek, it curves to the north-northeast. It travels through Senterville and enters Elkhorn City. It passes Elkhorn City Elementary School and meets its northern terminus, an intersection with KY 80 (Patty Loveless Drive).
The entire route is in Pike County.