On our front page today we have a story about the opening of the new Iron Ore Hiking Trail.

The Boyd County Fiscal Court hosted a ceremony Saturday to celebrate the opening. We are told the trail at Armco Park is five miles long and quite beautiful. It features benches, walking bridges and overlooks. The trail was made possible by the hard work and persistence of local residents Kenny and Candy Messer along with the volunteer work and donations of many community members. This includes students, churches, senior centers and other organizations. It of course also includes funding from the state and support from the Fiscal Court.

We see this new trail as a very significant, positive development for Boyd County. It also leads to our bigger picture view on the future for Boyd County -- a future we think is incredibly bright when one considers all the great people, assets and resources available here in the county. The key to realizing this future will be capitalizing on all those assets in a strategic, coordinated way, and that includes capitalizing on the existence of this trail.

Here's why we think the trail is a big deal: it is a great asset for fitness and nature enthusiasts, and some of the most valuable tourism dollars right now are found in the pockets of people who are in to fitness and nature. They will travel across the country to participate in trail marathons, river walks, etc. This trail puts Boyd on the map when you consider the beauty and expansiveness of Armco Park that already exists. Adding a five mile stretch of trail to that asset? Outstanding.

Also, right now, if you are in Ashland and you want to go on an extended walk or hike where are you most likely to go? Ashland's Central Park. The park is a great asset and a beautiful resource. However, adding a five-mile trail to the region's natural resources mix just down the road-- a trail with major hills and a challenging distance -- is a great new option. One thing that we think will benefit this new trail even more is a promotional push to highlight it combined with easy access to the trail that isn't just car based. For example, when we jog from Ashland to the Summit area, eventually the sidewalk ends. This is a stretch of roadway that is all designed strictly with cars in mind. Is there a way, over the long haul, to develop a sidewalk infrastructure that leads up the hill to Armco Park and this new five mile trail? This type of enhanced connection that is aimed at people on foot could lead tourists, nature enthusiasts and athletes to Armco Park from Ashland.

This in turn prompts discussion about a network of natural trails connecting all of our communities. Could there be a biking and trail system connecting Carter, Greenup and Boyd counties? Imagine a trail system that connects all of these resources together, running from Catlettsburg to Ashland, along the Ohio River, and to all of the Tri-State's natural beauty?

There is huge potential here. If you want to recruit economic development, job growth and newbies to the region, having a top-notch trail system is a major recruiting tool. We commend those involved in developing this trail system. We also encourage our area governments to look at what is possible when it comes to a connecting trail system that links all of our counties together.

The sky is the limit on this if the strategy can be matched up with the resources necessary to make it happen.