Kentucky Trail Towns - A How-to-Guide for Communities

Prepared by the Kentucky Office for Adventure Tourism, Kentucky Trail Town Program

Recreational trails and rivers can really help boost a community’s tourism traffic. This guide is designed to help leaders of these Trail Towns take advantage of the economic opportunity brought by the attraction of trails and rivers. It will help you transform your town into a more inviting and memorable tourist destination as well as a better place for residents to live, work and play. The elements in this guide are only suggestions. Feel free to modify or adapt these ideas in Assessments I & II to best suit your town. After all, your approach should be as unique as your community.


KY Trail Town How to Guide


A Trail Town is a destination along a long-distance trail or adjacent to an extensive trail system. Whether the trail is a hiking trail, water trail or rail trail, users can venture from the path to explore the unique scenery, commerce and heritage that each trail town has to offer. It is a safe place where both residents of the town and trail users can walk or drive to find the goods and services they need.

A Trail Town is a vibrant hub where people come together. It may have a bike shop, ice cream parlor, casual restaurants, a grocery store and quaint local shops. It should also have wide sidewalks, clean streets, bike racks, hitching posts, watering facilities and restrooms, benches and places to rest for the night. It should generously meet the needs of both trail users and town residents. A Trail Town is a friendly place that encourages trail users to visit and welcomes them with warm hospitality.

Trail Towns are not stand-alone communities. They are linked through the series of trails. Trail users may be passing through a town on a day trip or a long-distance trek or may drive to a community or park to access a river or trail. Trail users want to explore interesting places in their travels and will need services that your town can provide.

Published March 04, 2014

More Articles in this Category

Why Trails?

Whether hiking, bicycling, riding on horseback or participating in motorized recreation nearly everyone uses trails for a similar goal – to spend time outdoors. This time outside, whether a short walk down a paved trail to work in an urban setting, or a hike to a point reachable to only a few Americans makes trail users happier people.

The Trail Town Guide

Breathe more life (and funds) into your rural trailside town. Not every community revival looks the same, but this step-by-step guide shares all the secrets we've learned in our 10+ years of successful Trail Town development. We've built the framework. You just need to pedal it forward.

I Heart Trails Tourism Strategy

While not traditionally viewed as attractions that contribute to tourism and local economies, trails have become destination worthy sites and formidable economic generators. Trails and tourism have become intertwined to the benefit of communities, small businesses, and points of interest.