First Lady Jane Beshear Announces Dawson Springs
as Kentucky’s first ‘Trail Town’
First Lady Jane Beshear announced that the community of Dawson Springs is Kentucky’s first “Trail Town,” part of an effort to promote and develop adventure tourism opportunities across the state.
“We are proud that Dawson Springs is the first community to become a ‘Trail Town’, as we continue to develop more top-quality tourism sites throughout the Commonwealth,” Mrs. Beshear said. “We look forward to working with local officials and businesses in many more Kentucky communities to help them receive this beneficial designation.”
Trail Towns is a designation and assistance program that will guide travelers to trails, food, lodging, campgrounds, museums, entertainment and other services. The designation will help communities improve their tourism economy, add more jobs and more tourism opportunities for the entire state.
More than 30 communities have started the application process to become a Trail Town and are working with the Office of Adventure Tourism in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.
Dawson Springs is near several areas with outdoor attractions – Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, Pennyrile State Forest, the Tradewater River and Tradewater Wildlife Management Area, Jones-Keeney Wildlife Management Area and Lake Beshear – that make it attractive to visitors. A 13-mile hiking and biking trail connects the state park to Dawson Springs and the 14,600-acre forest offers 50 miles of horseback riding and mountain biking trails along with the new equestrian campground. A mountain bike skills area is under construction at the state park now, and will draw mountain bike riders from all over Kentucky and the region. The city is also promoting cycling, and paddling on the scenic Tradewater River.
Joining the First Lady for the May 9, 2013, announcement were Office of Adventure Tourism Director Elaine Wilson and Dawson Springs Mayor Jenny Sewell.
Hundreds of schoolchildren, trail users and Dawson Springs residents attended the event in the town square. Guided hikes and canoe rides were offered along with food and entertainment.
Wilson noted that the most important part of the Trail Town program is that each community decides what approaches it wants to take to tie in the trail system and other services that trail users need.
“These communities and towns become the gateway to adjacent trail systems. They are planning how to attract and enhance businesses to cater to trail users and learning from other successful towns how to go about doing that,” Wilson said.
The Office of Adventure Tourism will provide guidance to interested communities on issues such as trail development and signage, and how other communities have been successful by linking trails and services.
“We are elated to have completed the requirements to become a Kentucky Trail Town,” Mayor Sewell said. “This program has given us a vision and procedure to make successful the work our community has been doing in creating trail experiences.”
Once a community receives the Trail Town certification, the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Department of Travel and Tourism and Office of Adventure Tourism will help promote and market these communities and the services being offered. They will be highlighted on maps, websites, visitor’s guides and other state promotional material.