Kentucky Trail Town

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Hazard, Buckhorn and Rowdy communities in Perry County are currently working toward the Trail Town certification offered by the state of Kentucky's 
Office of Adventure Tourism.

"A Trail Town is a destination along a long-distance trail or adjacent to an extensive trail system. Whether the trail is a hiking trail, water trail or rail trail, users can venture from the path to explore the unique scenery, commerce and heritage that each trail town has to offer. It is a safe place where both residents of the town and trail users can walk or drive to find the goods and services they need."

Hazard is situated on the North Fork of the Kentucky River, Rowdy is located on Troublesome Creek of the North Fork of the Kentucky River, and Buckhorn Lake is located on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River.  Several access ramps are available within the city of Hazard and also throughout Perry County.  The Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park is located in Perry County.  Currently, two designated trails exist at Buckhorn Lake State Park, with others in the planning stages.

The North Fork Kentucky River is approximately 168 miles (270 km) long.  It rises on the western side of Pine Mountain, in the Appalachians of extreme southeastern Kentucky, in eastern Letcher County near the Virginia state line in Payne Gap, near the intersection of US 23 and US 119. It flows generally northwest, in a winding course through the mountainous Cumberland Plateau, past Whitesburg, Hazard and Jackson. It receives Rockhouse Creek at Blackey near its source. Approximately 8 miles (13 km) southeast of Hazard, it receives the Carr Fork. It receives Troublesome Creek at Haddix, southeast of Jackson. Three miles upstream from its confluence with the South Fork, it receives the Middle Fork. It joins the South Fork to form the Kentucky at Beattyville.

Basic Elements of a Trail Town strategy:

  • Enticing trail users to take detours off the trail and into your town via a connector trail.
  • Welcoming trail users to your town by providing information about the community readily available on the trail.
  • Making a substantial path between your town and the main trail.
  • Educating local businesses on the economic benefits of meeting trail tourists’ needs.
  • Recruiting new businesses or expanding existing ones to fill gaps in the goods or services that trail users need.
  • Promoting the trail-friendly character of the town.
  • Working with neighboring communities to promote the entire trail corridor as a tourist destination

Current Trails

Leatherwood Trail
Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park
Buckhorn, Kentucky
About: looped trail, lefthand fork where two trails meet, ascends hill, levels out and descends hill, numerous steps, overlook of lake, strenuous
Length: 0.5 mi
Difficulty: Strenuous

Moonshine Trail
Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park
Buckhorn, Kentucky
About: self guided interpretative trail, trailhead is located at the right fork of the two trails, ends behind park office
Length: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy

Proposed Trails

Lakeshore Trail
Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park
Buckhorn, Kentucky
About: self guided interpretative trail, trailhead is located behind park office
Length: 3.75 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Perry Park Trail
Perry County Park
Hazard, Kentucky
About: self guided interpretative trail, trailhead is located in the Perry County Park
Length: 3.25 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Rowdy ATV Trail
Rowdy, Kentucky
About: Wilderness adventure trail, trailhead is located in the Rowdy, Kentucky
Length: approx. 20 miles

North Fork Kayak Trail
Hazard, Kentucky
About: Trailhead is located behind City Hall and runs to the Perry County Park launch ramp.
Length: approx. 5 miles
Difficulty: Easy (and relaxing)

Cardiac Trail
Hazard, Kentucky
About: Trailhead is located behind ARH Medical Mall and runs the perimeter of the Black Gold Shopping Plaza.
Length: approx. 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy

 
 
 
 
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Editorial from the Hazard Herald: With tourism, the town is the attraction
When Seth Wheat of the Kentucky Tourism Commission visited Hazard last week to discuss the process of gaining official Trail Town certification from the state, he made one point very clear. The city of Hazard will play a more important role in tourism efforts than any trail that runs through it.
Local leaders and organizations are already working on plans for trail development in Perry County. Grants have been secured to help with the development of trails at Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park and the Perry County Park. Wheat said the North Fork of the Kentucky River serves as a trail itself and it already runs right through the heart of town.
However, when Wheat talked about steps Hazard must take to gain certification, he did not say trails in Perry County have to be the longest or most adventurous. Wheat suggested that, if Hazard gains certification, local trails will likely still be under development. Trail Town certification for Hazard, according to Wheat, depends on how attractive our town is to tourists.
This does not mean we need flashy casinos or expensive stadiums in order to attract tourists. A little bit of pride and charm will go a long way, according to Wheat.
Tourists like towns that are unique. Therefore, it is important for local citizens to support local businesses.
The way we feel about Hazard resonates with potential tourists. When someone from another region stops at a restaurant and asks a waiter to describe the town, that person will develop an opinion of the town based on what the waiter says. The Kentucky Tourism Commission sends people into businesses to study ways the residents describe the area before making a decision on Trail Town certification, according to Wheat. We must have pride in ourselves if we are to succeed.
There are plenty of reasons for the people of Hazard to be proud. Last week, one of the nation’s biggest rock stars, Brett Michaels, held a concert in town. There was a car show at a shopping center, a fall festival in Vicco and a political rally focusing on an issue of great interest to every teacher in the state. When it comes to captivating an audience, no one can do a better job than Mother Nature. For the next few weeks, the leaves changing color across the Appalachian Mountains will become one of the most beautiful spectacles in the world. Hazard does not have to spend a dime to make this happen.
Perry County is home to Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park. The Kentucky River runs alongside Main Street in Hazard. The potential to attract tourists is strong.
The problems we have are problems that exist across the country. However, the attractions we have are not available in many towns. As we move forward with efforts to gain Trail Town certification, the question should not be; how can we become a tourist destination? Instead, the question should be; how can we not be a tourist destination?
The potential for a thriving tourism economy in Perry County already exists. It is up to us as a community to stand together with pride and blaze the trail.