RICEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - 'Rails to Trails' is a national organization that takes former rail lines and transforms them into trails. The largest rails to trails project in the state is in Eastern Kentucky and officially opened on Saturday.
Mark Giles, a bicyclist from Wise, Va. says, "This trail is big not only for the bicycling community but for the community in general. It will create a better state of health and encourage people to get out and enjoy days that are beautiful like this."
The first 18-mile section of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail is now opened. This rail trail is the longest in the state and will be 36 miles long when completed...running through Johnson, Magoffin, and Breathitt counties.
Governor Steve Beshear calls the project "one of the greatest recycling projects in our country."
Gov. Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, along with local officials were on hand for the ceremony and all say the opening of this trail will have significant benefits for the community.
Folks living in the area will not only get to get out and enjoy the trail but officials say they will also benefit economically as the trail will attract visitors from across the country.
Gov. Beshear explains, "That means they need a place to eat, a place to stay, they need supplies, you know they need all kinds of things so they can enjoy themselves. This area, these three counties, Johnson, Magoffin, and Breathitt, are going to see a big economic boost because of this."
They say the uniqueness and scenery surrounding this trail make it appealing to both trail enthusiasts and folks who just want to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
Mrs. Beshear says, "Local folks to appreciate even more where they live, people from all across Kentucky to appreciate what this area of Kentucky has to offer, and then people from all across the country."
The Governor and First Lady did not just come to show support for the project, they also came to test out the trail on their bicycles.
The opened section currently has two trailheads; one near Riceville at Swamp Branch and the second at Royalton.
The trail is open during daylight and motorized vehicles are prohibited. The trail is managed by the Kentucky Department of Parks.