Fayette County

Trails for hiking, biking, riding horses to be highlighted in new plan for Kentucky

Gov. Steve Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear and Mayor Jim Gray announced a statewide trail master plan Tuesday in Lexington.

The announcement for the plan, which could cover much of the state, was at the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden, which could soon be connected to the Legacy Trail.

"Lexington has really been a template, a leader in trails," Gray said.

The master plan would connect Kentucky's existing 12,000 miles of trails and would allow people to hike, cycle or ride horses across the state, Jane Beshear said. The plan was put together by the Office of Adventure Tourism and will be an outline for cities and groups interested in developing trails.

The trails would be an opportunity to showcase "the beauty and variety of Kentucky terrain, and most importantly the hospitality of its people," she said.

In the plan, there would be webs of trails across the state, with continuous paths from east to west and north to south.

The next step will be for towns and cities to receive "trail town" designations so they can be trailheads, the governor said.

Nine communities are designated as trail towns, and 30 more are applying, he said.

The state administration also is working on completing the last 18 miles of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail, which is expected to be 36 miles long when complete, he said.

Ultimately, the work and decision-making would come down to local governments, and the plan will be a template, said Gil Lawson, a spokesman for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. No state funding for the local trails will be provided.

The plan will help local governments highlight assets, such as canoeing creeks or ATV trails, and help market the trails once they are done, Lawson said.

In the past five years, the economic impact of tourism in Kentucky was up $2.2 billion to $13.4 billion, the governor said. Tourism jobs are up 13,000, to 180,000.