HAZARD—Officials in Perry County have been working for the last year to make Hazard and the surrounding area part of the Kentucky River Trail, and the first real step in that process started over the weekend.
Taylor Sabo, a student at Berea College who works with the Entrepreneurship for the Public Good institute there, was one of a group of six from the institute that travelled to Perry County early Saturday morning to start mapping the North Fork of the Kentucky River.
“Kentucky Adventure Tourism has created this project where local communities like Hazard can begin mapping their adventure tourism trails, like hiking, biking, and canoeing and kayaking and then figure out what kind of assets they have to offer those kinds of tourists in the town like hotels, great restaurants, and places of interest and destinations around their county and town,” Sabo explained.
By being designated a trail town, Sabo said, tourism—and the revenue from it—would get a big boost.
“The mission is for Kentucky to be an adventure tourism state destination so you have all these trail towns linked across the whole state and so adventure tourists can come to Kentucky and stay for a significant amount of time and it’d be a great source of revenue for the state,” he added.
Sabo and the rest of the group from Berea started mapping the river at the Letcher-Perry county line, near the Lily Cornett Woods.
“We’ll be kayaking down the river and then be marking with the GPS where the dams are, how to like get around them, different places of interest that you could possibly picnic at like shoals, high or low spots in the water, just different information,” Sabo explained.
John Epperson, with Perry County Tourism, said once the mapping of the river and a survey of the businesses in the area have been done the next step in the process can be started.
Sabo said this is not the first section of the Kentucky River he and his team have mapped, but added that he was pleased with the experience even before he had gotten his kayak in the water.
“We’re really excited to do it,” he said. “One thing we’re really impressed about with Eastern Kentucky is, specifically Perry and Leslie county, is the amount of hospitality that we’ve received from all the people that we’ve interacted with. We’ve just been really impressed with how hospitable you all are!”
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.