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Pike County planning ATV, river trails


Two trails in development in Pike County could provide first of their kind opportunities for recreation enthusiasts. But, don’t grab the hiking boots just yet, better yet, grab a canoe or an ATV.

Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said in an interview the proposed trail system will position the county to be at the forefront of a growing national trend.

“Eco-tourism is the growing thing, not only in Kentucky, but in America,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford pointed to the success of ATV trails in nearby Harlan County, which drew 33,000 users in 2008, he said.

He also said the county has in place several foot trails which offer eco-tourists a place to satiate their appetites for nature and adventure.

Rutherford said trails and handicap-accessible fishing docks at Grant’s Branch Park, and hiking trails on Pine Mountain at Elkhorn City, already offer outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to view the natural beauty of Pike County.

Assistant Judge-Executive John Doug Hays said that Pike County, which is the state’s largest county in size, could only benefit from developing new and unique ways to add to the eco-tourism opportunities that exist within the county.

Hays spoke of a recent visit to West Virginia near the Hatfield-McCoy ATV trail. He and Rutherford made the trip and they observed dozens of cabins near the trails, Hays said.

“People come from Pittsburgh, they come from all over the East Coast,” he said. “They love those trails.”

He called the trail system a “real economic revival for some of those small, depressed West Virginia towns.”

The proposed ATV and River Trails could not only position Pike County at the edge of a nationwide tourism boom, but also bring money into the county.

Summit Engineering recently presented master plans for a proposed Pike County Off Highway Vehicle trail, and a proposed Tug Fork River Trail, which could be the first of its kind in the state. The plans were requested by the county.

The ATV trail will emphasize Pike County’s historic nature, by featuring the Hatfield-McCoy feud. The ATV trail, according to the master plan, will offer stops at the Hatfield-McCoy Cabin, the Hog Trial site and the McCoy Cemetery. The master plan said elevations along the proposed trail system would vary from as low as 650 feet near the Tug Fork, to 2,000 feet at some higher peaks. The plan also notes that many of these peaks and ridges would be “ideal locations for scenic overlooks.”

In addition, the master plan said, “The proposed trail system meanders through a diverse ecosystem, creating excellent opportunity for viewing wildlife,” including deer, wild turkeys, raccoons, various types of birds of prey, coyotes, red and gray foxes, bobcats, minks and river otters.

The plan said most trail users would likely be interested in day trips along the proposed routes and that camping facilities likely would not be established on the ATV trail.

Less than 5 percent of the trails would have to be constructed, according to the plan. Most trails would use existing roads. Many are on private property and often are old coal and logging roads.

Estimated initial construction costs for all trails, including four primitive trailheads, would be $354,310, the trailheads could be upgraded at a cost of about $100,000 each.

Distributed by The Associated Press

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