by Heather Tomlinson
Despite a rainy last several days, outdoor enthusiasts couldn’t help but play in the mud a little this weekend in celebration of the grand opening of biking and hiking trails at Pulaski County Park.
“We’ve been working on this .. for about four years,” said Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock to a crowd of around 50 people gathered at the head of the new trail at the park. “ ... It’s been such a good project.
“We think it’s going to be a huge asset to this community,” added Bullock.
The essence of the trail has existed at Pulaski County Park for decades as an Eagle Scout Trail. The newest trails, are almost 9 miles long, with five of those miles dedicated to biking.
The trail is built to the standards of the International Mountain Biking Association, a worldwide network that brings together serious bicycle enthusiasts.
The trail project was completed with a $50,000 grant from Kentucky’s Recreational Trails Program, funded by the Federal Highway Administration, with assistance from Lexington-based bicycle service outfit Pedal the Planet.
And it took a serious amount of community aid as well. Pulaski County Community Development Director Tiffany Bourne for the last several years has worked alongside Cumberland Cycles owner Marc Travis and self-admitted mountain biking enthusiast Alex Godsey, who also works as the engineer for the City of Somerset.
“Your ultimate dream is to create a trail how you’d like it to be done,” said Godsey. “ ... I am absolutely thrilled with the way it rides.”
The trail features a series of both gentle, beginning hills, and steeper areas. And in spite of the deluge of rain that’s hit the area over the past week — and Saturday’s event comes after the grand opening ceremony was postponed once already due to inclement weather — hikers, runners and bikers were still able to explore the area.
That’s because those behind the trail worked to ensure that much of the water would drain from the trail naturally. Godsey stated that the trail would require little maintenance.
Bullock has stated that Cumberland Cycles had been one of the first groups the county had spoken with around five years ago concerning the trails.
“We started talking about this awhile back,” said Travis. “Admittedly some of it was very selfish. I just wanted a trail locally that I could ride ... but it’s just turned into a great county project.
“This is a great trail,” Travis added. “It’s a lot of fun whether you bike or hike or run or walk. I think everybody will enjoy this at all levels.”
Because the trail utilizes the old Eagle Scout trail from the ‘70s — “It was a logical place for it,” said Bullock in an earlier Commonwealth Journal article — the local Boy Scouts of America pitched in with the update as well.
“The Boy Scouts built all the bridges on the trail,” said Bullock. “There were three original bridges; now there are 15. The rest have been added with the new project. They did that work for us.”
Also in attendance at Saturday’s ceremony were Bobby Clue, executive director of Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the ribbon cutting, and Pulaski County Magistrates Jason Turpen (whose district includes Pulaski County Park) and Glenn Maxey.
“We have a plan for this park to carry it a lot farther than it is today,” said Maxey, who pointed out the county is planning on looking into building cabins at the park.
And, as a sign that the county means business, an item titled “Permission to bid for cabins at PC Park” is on Tuesday’s Pulaski County Fiscal Court agenda.
Maxey said the park may have “fallen on the wayside” during the last several years, when a lowered Lake Cumberland left the park’s section of the lake dry. Now, the water is slowly rising back to its pre-dam repair levels.
“Now that the lake’s back up we hope to bring it (the park) back up to everybody’s standards,” said Maxey.