Where in the United States can one find hundreds of miles of horseback riding trails, ATV trails and herds of elk all co-existing within one county without creating conflict with each other? It is Knott County Kentucky where an entire county is working together to make itself into an Adventure Tourism Park System!
Through a partnership between Western Pocahontas Coal Company and the Knott County Fiscal Court, 43,000 acres of its reclaimed coal mine area and forests will now include hundreds and hundreds of miles of horseback riding trails. Last week, the 1st Annual Ride-A-Thon took place. Over 600 people and 400 horses from as far as Florida, Mississippi and Virginia participated in the event. Even Ernie Fletcher, Governor of Kentucky, came and road the trails.
In the southwest corner of Knott County near Carr Creek State Park, a couple are starting a horseback riding business that will provide guided tours to listen to elk bugle in the Fall and another couple plan to start a wagon ride business so senior citizens, children, individuals with disabilities as well as those who just do not want to ride a horse can follow the trails and view both the wildlife and breathtaking scenery offered in Eastern Kentucky.
Another entrepreneur has developed plans to expand her riding lesson business, and in the Spring, there are plans to build a large stable and riding ring in the northwest portion of the county along with a large RV park including hot showers and electrical hook ups at one of the trailheads leading to the 43,000 acres of horseback riding trails.
Through a partnership with Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, wildlife viewing stands and food plot areas will be added throughout Knott County. Charlie Logsdon, Wildlife Biologist for the Elk Restoration Program, says he has seen herds of over 300 elk in the area and feels strongly that this area could become the premier area in the state for elk viewing. Doug Hensley, KDF&WR Commissioner for the Eastern Region and David Ledford, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation both agree and look forward to working with Judge Thompson and the Knott County Fiscal Court in making this become a reality!
With support from Honda, SVIA*, KRTA*, the ATV/OHM Industry, along with area dealers, Knott County Fiscal Court is developing an OHV* Training Center for ATV’s and dirt bikes. Construction has already started and the facility will open in early Spring. There are only four such training centers in the United States. They are located in Ohio, Texas, Georgia and California. "The Knott County Training Complex will be the only one to include a training facility and skills test area complete with water hazards and a variety of surfaces, as well as serve as an ATV trailhead directly connecting to hundreds of miles of ATV trails of differing skill levels including beginners, intermediate and black diamond trails," says Chris Cox, Honda Rider Education, Troy Ohio.
In the southeast portion of Knott County, a group of men are working on developing the second ATV/dirt bike trailhead and are also planning on building cabins to encourage riders to take multiple day rides. And one of the gentlemen plans to offer campsite dining at strategic locations along the trail. It is the goal to offer numerous trailheads throughout the county, but also connect these trailheads to other trails in surrounding counties.
Knott County is strategically located in the center of a 12-county initiative to develop interconnecting ATV trails similar to the Hatfield & McCoy Trails in West Virginia. Check out our website at http://trailsrus.com/adventure/ to view the master plan for the Adventure Tourism Park System developed for Judge Thompson and the Knott County Fiscal Court and watch the building of the OHV Training Center currently under construction.
*SVIA - ATV Safety Institute http://svia.org/
*KRTA - Newly Created Kentucky Recreational Trails Authority Spring '06 Legislative Session
*OHV stands for Off Highway Vehicle
(see below for photos)
Governor Ernie Fletcher (right) on horseback at the 2006 Knott County Ride-A-Thon.
A few of the hundereds of elk in Knott County.
Dirt bike riders near the site of the OHV Training Center now under construction in Knott County.
Just one of the breathtaking views within Kentucky's Countywide Adventure Tourism Park System near Hindman.
Knott County's Strategic location between the 12-County sKYward trails initiative.
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