Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 20, 2013

Tygart Trail offers unique beauty

GREENBO STATE PARK — The Michael Tygart Trail Loop is a good choice for anyone wishing to hike and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

The approximately seven-mile trail loop has a natural feel to it, and for the most part it is easy to imagine Michael Tygart (for whom the trail and Tygart’s Creek is named) exploring the area in the 18th Century. The complete trail is approximately 24 miles in length and connects Jenny Wiley State park and Greenbo State Park, but the loop begins at the Jesse Stuart Lodge and ends at the Marina.

The entire trail system of which the Michael Tygart Trail is a part is collectively known as the Jenny Wiley Trail System and runs from Carter Caves State resort Park, through Greenbo Lake State Resort Park and ends at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg.

The Jenny Wiley Trail, an impressive 163-mile backpacking trail, begins in South Shore and retraces the general path through which Jenny Wiley was brought to the Ohio River when she was kidnapped by hostile American Indians more than 200 ago. The three trails together comprise some 196 miles of hiking and backpacking trails, some of which include overnight backpacking.

Hikers can enjoy the trail loop at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park for free nearly year round, with the exception of two weeks when the trail is closed because of events. The trail is marked (blazed) and a trail team keeps it clear, and every effort is made to maintain the natural appearance of the trail. Hikers can expect a wonderful view of the lake, said Stephanie Poplin of Greenbo. “It’s all natural, and a little hilly, but the view is well worth the effort.

“We have groups like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that hike the trail, and there are other groups like River Cities Harvest, who will be having their third annual Hike Against Hunger on Oct. 26. We would love to attract more hikers and mountain bikers,” she said. “There have been mountain bikers in the past that have used the trail and have been impressed with the beauty of the terrain. And parts of the trail are open to horseback riding as well, so you might see either horses or mountain bikes on those parts of the trail at any time.”

There are several shelters along the trail for patrons who need to take a break and rest. And along with the natural beauty the trail offers windows into the past in the form of old cemeteries and structures left over from past days. Poplin says that about one and a half miles from the fishing pier there is an old house with barn that hikers will see, and perhaps appreciate bygone days. The opportunities for enjoyment and photographs along the trail are limitless.

Ironically, though the trail itself is well known to many, little is known about the man whose name it bears.

Michael Tygart was a contemporary of Simon Kenton (whose own trail leads to Carter Caves State Resort Park) and other explorers of their day. Tygart’s Creek, which runs some 88 miles from southwestern Carter County and ends at the Ohio River in South Shore, was named after him as well.

But his legacy is better known than his personal past. Tygart came, he explored, and in a tragically ironic twist, he was said to have drowned near the mouth of the creek that bore his name because he was thrown from his horse and couldn’t swim.

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