Horse trail may provide tourism spark for Letcher County

WHITESBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Have you ever wanted to ride a horse 2,300 feet above sea level?

Now you can in Letcher County.

A ribbon cutting and grand opening for the Pioneer Horse Trail was held Tuesday.

The trail is located near the summit of Pine Mountain and spans 12 miles on a round trip. It's also free to travel, whether by horse, bike or foot.

"It's canopy the whole time. You're never in the sun," trail president Jimmy McIntire said. "You get to see all kinds of animals. It's a neat ride."

Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear, an equine enthusiast, was on hand to speak and take an inaugural ride on the trail.

"We've often heard that good things come to those who wait," Beshear said. "Well, we've waited a long time. And today good things have come."

The trail project has been seven years in the making. Officials said now that it's a reality, it will bring valuable tourism dollars into Letcher County.

The idea is that riders will patronize local restaurants and hotels.

"We'd like them to come in and enjoy what we have here right in the mountains," Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward said.

"With the situation of loss of jobs in the coal industry, if we can begin to boost up our tourism, there are a lot of opportunites there," Rep. Leslie Combs (D - 94th District) said. There's a lot of jobs there and it's great for our region here in eastern Kentucky.'

Rep. Johnny Ray Turner (D - 29th District) said, "If you can continue to put little pieces together, maybe it will add up to scratch the surface of what we're losing in the coal industry."

Letcher County officials poured nearly $30 thousand into the trail, Ward said.

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