Local officials are working to find a path that will connect ATV trails in Floyd County to other ATV trails in adjoining counties.
Floyd County Judge-Executive Robbie Williams, who has been working with Rep. Ashley Tackett-Laferty on the project, said officials started scoping hillsides recently, in an attempt to connect Floyd County ATV trails to trails already available in Knott County and that are under development in Magoffin County.
Williams and Laferty reported that Floyd County officials are trying to map out potential ATV trials that could be discussed at the group’s meeting this month.
Williams explained the effort to some members of the Floyd County Tourism and Recreation Commission recently, telling them that the state passed legislation to protect landowners who have ATV trails across their property from liabilities.
“I’m not certain on the eminent domain clause, how that’s going to work, but the ATV trail, which is similar to what they’re doing with the Hatfield McCoy Trail in West Virginia, we can now do that here in Kentucky. They passed legislation to move this forward,” Williams said.
He said he visited the Hatfield McCoy Trail in West Virginia recently and learned they had 35,000 visitors came there last year. He said an official suggested that Floyd County should not open an ATV trail until it’s prepared, reporting that ATV tourists come in groups of 50 to 100 people and the county should be ready to accommodate that many people at one time before trails are open to the public.
“The way it works is we’re going to do it in pods,” Williams said. “We’re going to have a pod that is Perry, Knott, Magoffin and Breathitt counties, which is Pod 1. They’ve been working on theirs since 2016. They already have the trails mapped. They’re ready to go … We’re just trying to hitch our horse up with the first pod because the pod that we’re assigned to, there’s no groundwork.”
He said Floyd County is part of Pod 2, which includes Floyd, Pike, Johnson and Martin counties. He said officials are working to start a trail in the City of Martin because it’s centrally located and will not require ATV riders to cross U.S. 23.
Williams said, “So, here’s where they’re at. They’ve got the first pod ready to go. I mean, they’re within 30 to 45 days of being ready to go. So, what we need to do is we need to get a trail map from Martin to the Knott County ATV training center, and we need to get a trail map from Martin to the Magoffin County trails. What we’re hoping is we can continue that loop in those counties.”
Williams said officials are working to map trails along the proposed route in Floyd County and, after that work is done, the county will seek property for the trail.
“Hopefully, we can get them to donate it,” Williams said. “But on the property, here’s what the property owners don’t realize. That’s not just a trail going across your property. That’s something of value. You can tap into that trail from your property and, if you want to put cabins or anything on that trail, you can.”
He explained how permits are issued for the Hatfield-McCoy Trail and how residents there opened cabins and businesses along the trail.
Williams said officials are looking to map Floyd County’s ATV trails along ridgelines of hillsides, possibly through Caney and nearby areas to Magoffin County, so that the trail in Floyd County forms a “complete loop.”
“You can’t have it open-ended,” he said. “These people have to be able to ride a loop. That’s what they want.”
He said several ATV trails could spring from that loop, however.
The Wayland City Commission also recently addressed this project, with Mayor Jerry Fultz providing a map a family member created for the city that depicts a seven-mile ATV trail that would link Wayland with the Knott County Sportsplex, the area where Williams hopes to link Floyd County ATV trails.
Williams said the county is working to develop a proposed ATV trail map by June 25, when the multi-county trails board plans to meet.