A coalition in Greenup County is working to put the area on the map as a destination for bicyclists while earning Kentucky’s first county-wide Trail Town designation.
The public is invited to help officials name the county’s trail system, which already includes more than 100 miles of paved cycling routes with an additional 400 miles planned.
Greenup County Tourism Director Bobby Allen said an informal group of individuals, including representatives from the Ashland Cycling Enthusiasts, Greenbo Lake State Resort Park, FIVCO Area Development District and Greenup’s cities, are coming together to work on the project, which ties together existing efforts to promote the area as a tourism destination.
The routes — 30-, 60- and 100-mile loops dubbed the red, blue and white trails — use existing paved roads in Greenup County and emanate from Greenbo.
The formal trail head will be at Greenbo, but additional satellite trail heads are planned, too. One will be in Raceland, where an orange trail is planned and another in Greenup, which will have a green trail leading into downtown, Allen said.
A 40-mile trail is also in the works that will link Greenbo to Wurtland, Worthington, Raceland and Russell. Eventually all the cities, Greenbo, the McConnell House, the Greenup County War Memorial, the county’s two covered bridges and other historic landmarks will be along one trail or another.
ACE president Kent Morrison said club members have been riding many of the routes for years and formally marked three on roadways in 2012 for the Summer Motion Bicycle Tour. They were used for the event this year, too, which draws dozens of cyclists from across the region.
That is exactly what officials want to continue doing, but on an even larger scale.
“What we hope to do is build, establish and promote a tourism-based industry in this county,” said Don Sammons, who has been spearheading efforts in Raceland to revive its downtown by creating a historical walking trail, craft center and other attractions. “Tourism is the fastest-growing industry in the nation.”
A new 500-mile system of cycling trails in Greenup “would be a large amount” compared to other areas. “What we hope to do is to start promoting this to clubs around the nation. Greenup has as much to offer as far as scenery as anywhere in the nation; it just hasn’t been marketed before like we are trying to do now,” Sammons said.
“We hope that as clubs start coming and riding the trails, and we develop it into a tourist attraction that other businesses will come to support this trade,” he said. He envisions bicycle shops, clothing and equipment stores, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and other spin-off businesses.
Kentucky’s Office of Adventure Tourism rolled out its Trail Town initiative in 2012 to help areas market and promote themselves as destinations for trail-based activities. Those who earn official Trail Town status will be included in the agency’s marketing and promotional publications, featured on the website, newsletters, social media and be denoted on its maps with the official Trail Town logo.
More than 30 Kentucky towns have applied to the state be certified under the program, including Olive Hill and Morehead. If Greenup County can achieve Trail Town status, it will be the first county-wide designation in the state, according to Allen.
Adventure Tourism officials, including Director Elaine Wilson, have been enthusiastic about the project so far, said Sammons and Allen.
Sammons said Wilson commented to him Friday that she has been impressed by all the different efforts underway in Northeastern Kentucky. “She is really excited. This area has never really been on the radar before and it has lit up,” he said.
In order to reach Trail Town status the routes must be marked with roadside signage and both hand-held and large posted maps developed. Allen said there are other requirements that will make designation “a lengthy process.”
But, he said, Greenup has a good start.
“Using existing infrastructure to create a nonmotorized trail system, that was the biggest hurdle,” Allen said. “Now we can concentrate on the downtown areas and the councils can work on doing the points of interest.”
Morrison said ACE is excited about the prospect of a recognized trail system, too. “We want to get more people out cycling and it will make more people aware of the cyclists we have in the area, I think. A lot of people think that cyclists don’t have rights to the road.”
Now through 5 p.m. Nov. 1, residents are invited to submit suggested names for the trail system. Individual routes will retain color names, but officials are looking for a creative way to brand the new network of recreational trails. Ideas should be submitted to GreenupCountyTourism@gmail.com.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.