An area rich in coal mining heritage might just get its chance to be put on the map. Pike County leaders and local trail enthusiasts recently met with the Great Eastern Trail Association to ensure a portion of the international trail travels through the mountain passages of Kentucky.
The Great Eastern Trail, modeled after the Appalachian Trail, is a proposed 1800 mile hiking trail linking the scenic byways from Florida to upstate New York. It’s also one of Woorlich’s newest partners.Void of roads, this long distance footpath parallels Benton MacKaye’s original vision of networked or “braided” trails running the length of the Appalachian Mountains. Once complete, this remote trail will provide a spectacular alternative to the occasionally bustling Appalachian Trail (AT).
With the Pine Mountain Trail already in place, group officials blaze forward with suggestions on how to link the gap from Elkhorn City to Matewan. This linkage requires securing easements and agreements with large land-owning and coal companies. Pine Mountain Trail Conference board member James Stapleton suggests,” It’d be really nice to find some coal companies or some good corporate citizens that maybe had done some exceptional reclamation that they may want to show off. Maybe we could name that section of the trail the Energy Trail.”
Linking the passage known as “The Breaks,” featuring the largest canyon east of the Mississippi, with Kentucky coal country offers a point of contention for competing Virginia groups. Still, with a decided route, proposed funding in place and a nailed-down trail blazing plan, Pike County hopes to tip the scale in its favor. Meetings with local land holders will truly determine the fate of this coveted section of the Great Eastern Trail. If all goes well, when the group reconvenes, Pike County’s passionate leaders may have made enough headway to seal the deal.