2017-11-01 / Front Page

Tourism commission offering guided tours of Pine Mountain


Letcher County’s push to jumpstart the tourism industry here will pick up steam this weekend with the debut of publicly-run guided tours on Pine Mountain.

The Letcher County Convention and Tourism Commission expects to begin taking online reservation today for “sunset tours” Friday and Sunday evenings, and hiking tours Saturday and Sunday.

The tours will be available on the tourism web site www.discoverletcher.com.

“We thought we’d try to take advantage of what we thought would be the one last weekend of good weather,” commission chair Missy Matthews said.

The county is leasing two vans from LKLP Community Action Agency. The vans will be used to take hikers to trailheads at Bad Branch Falls and Payne Gap, and to do van tours along Little Shepherd Trail, and possibly another as yet undetermined location.

Jessica Howard, who works for Matthews, said the tours will be conducted by volunteers, who Matthews said will have scripts to work from and will take training in tourism hospitality. The initial training will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Pine Mountain Grill.

Money from ticket sales will go to buy gas, food and supplies for the tours. Tours will include either snacks or a lunch and drinks. The hiking tours will also provide each hiker with a stocked pack and a hiking stick for use during the tour. Tourists are still encouraged to bring things they think they may need.

“ We’ re hoping we can continue these tours throughout the fall, of course that depends on the weather,” Howard said.

Cold weather may stop the hiking tours, but the driving tours will continue for as a long as possible, Matthews said. The Little Shepherd Trail tour will take tour-goers to watch the sunset from the Eddie Saltess Overlook on the section of the trail called the Devil’s Backbone. Bad Branch hiking tours will include the hike to Bad Branch Falls, and an all-day hike to High Rock. The Skylight Trail Hike will go to Skyview Rock Shelter on the Birch Knob Section of the Pine Mountain Trail.

All of the tours will meet in front of Pine Mountain Outfitters. They are limited to 10 people and no more than four children to a trip. Tickets for this weekend are $20 for adults and $10 for children, with the regular price being $30 for adults and $10 for children.

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