PRESTONSBURG — Tourism is often touted as one way to diversify Eastern Kentucky’s economy, and some are saying that opening up bicycling opportunities in the region could give those efforts a boost.
Cycling enthusiasts and tourism officials gathered in Prestonsburg earlier this month, for the annual meeting of the Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway Commission. In addition to KBBC commissioners, the meeting was attended by representatives of the Kentucky Office of Adventure Tourism, the Kentucky Mountain Bike Association, The Bluegrass Cycling Club, and the Adventure Cycling Association.
Don Fields, owner of Prestonsburg cycling shop and fitness center Pro Fitness MultiSports, spoke to the commission on the economic impact of Dawkins Line Rail Trail, which opened June 15. Fields spoke about how the trail could have a positive impact on a region in need of good economic news.
“With the downturn in the local coal market and so many jobs lost in recent months, more attention must be paid to the amazing untapped resources we still have — a plethora of outdoor activities, such as bicycling, hiking, paddling, horseback riding, rock climbing, motorcycle and ATV riding in Eastern Kentucky,” Fields said.
The Dawkins trail, which is currently 17 miles long, is the longest rail trail in the state and is expected to double in length when complete. The trail offers hiking, cycling and horseback riding on the old Dawkins Line railbed from Paintsville to Magoffin County, and will ultimately extend to Evanston, in Breathitt County.
At the end of the summit, attendees took part in a bike ride along the Dawkins Line.