Chamber News

Jul 15, 2017

Sugarcamp Mountain Trails Officially Open


Local officials joined community members in celebrating the opening of the Sugarcamp Mountain Trails with a ribbon cutting ceremony held at StoneCrest on July 15.

Sugarcamp Mountain Trails Officially Open

Local officials joined community members in celebrating the opening of the Sugarcamp Mountain Trails with a ribbon cutting ceremony held at StoneCrest on July 15.

Development of the trail system began about three years ago, after Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton found an agreement between the city and Jenny Wiley State Resort Park and started working with others to develop the trail system in the county.

The project became a reality, thanks to approximately 25,000 hours that were given by volunteers over the past three years. 

“The volunteer hours is where it’s at,” Stapleton said. “Over 25,000 volunteer hours. I cannot afford that. The city could not afford that. These guys have no idea what they’ve done, as far as being an asset to this city.” 

Stapleton and his wife Karen also provided numerous hours to the cause. She regularly picks up trash along the trails, and since last May, both of them have guided Sunday hikes there. They led hike following the July 15 ribbon cutting.

“These trails are just amazing,” Karen Stapleton said. “The scenery’s beautiful… I’ve been to just about every state park in Kentucky, and run their trails. This is, by far, the safest, the best. I mean, you can’t beat it.”

With more than 20 miles of trails on the former strip mine for mountain biking, hiking and horse riding, the trail system’s multi-use trail begins at the Stonecrest trailhead, where the ribbon cutting was held near the water tower, and it winds to the bottom of the mountain into Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, where years ago, a horse stable was located. 

Another trailhead is located on Lake Road near Arrowhead Point, and this trail connects with the multi-use trail, and the loop is also connected with several connector trails along the way — all of which are marked with blazes. They include names like The Bluff, Burning Tree, Lodgeview, Fern Gully, Switchback, Escalator, Briar Pit — names chosen by volunteers. 

Stapleton, Jenny Wiley State Resort Park Manager Julian Slone, Sen. Johnny Ray Turner and Ron Vanover, a former Jenny Wiley park naturalist who now works in Frankfort as director of parks and historic sites in the state park system, praised the work of the community volunteers who help build the trail system. 

Stapleton said Prestonsburg is “fortunate” to have Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in its “backyard” and praised Slone for “tirelessly” supporting the effort.

Slone said discussions about expanding trails available at Jenny Wiley has been ongoing since the 1990s and the opening of the Sugarcamp Mountain Trails, which connect with existing Jenny Wiley trails, came with partnership between the city, the state park system and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The volunteers, many of whom are members of the Friends of Jenny Wiley, included Tim Branham,  Beau Spurlock, Josh Turner, Josh Daniels, Ryan Wagoner, Tyler Burke, Frankie Burke, Matt Turner, Matt Scofield, Tom Moak, Bob Ward, Brittainy Branham, Tyler Smith, Jerry Palmer, Joey Collins, Bryon Caudill, Lenny Little, Michael Arnett, Charles Lusk, Alvin Reed and Thomas Nairn. 

Branham, a Prestonsburg Tourism member who owns Lizzie B’s restaurant near Stonecrest, Josh Turner, who owns Turner Technologies in Prestonsburg and Beau Spurlock, who is on the board of First Commonwealth Bank, launched the trail system’s concept three years ago.

Speaking to the crowd at the ribbon cutting, Spurlock, 42, of Prestonsburg, talked about how he and another volunteer, Frankie Burke, worked in the “driving rain” and during the the winter to build the trails, saying they had to wait until the ground thawed to start digging. He praised community leaders and volunteers who helped. 

“It’s been a perfect storm of support from the community and all the interested parties and I just couldn’t be more pleased and more proud of our community,” Spurlock said. 

He said the trails will help the city form its identify as a biking community, and lure in tourists who go to other areas of the state for outdoor adventures. He also noted that the project is “scalable,” saying that more trails can be added with minimal work. 

Stapleton said the city has spent less than $20,000 on the trail system and other efforts the city is undertaking to expand trails throughout the city. He said once his “wish list” is complete, the city will offer 160 miles of trails. 

Friends of Jenny Wiley member Tom Moak of Prestonsburg donated handmade walking sticks that were given away to ribbon cutting attendees. 

“There’s a couple here this morning that said they go to Colorado and they go all over the place and nobody thinks, well, look at what we’ve got in our own backyard,” Moak said. “A lot of people just don’t realize it. They say, well, it’s the park and they think the park is a lodge. But you’ve got this, these trails.”

He said the view is “pretty awesome.” 

For detailed information about Sugarcamp and all of its connector trails, visit, www.sugarcamptrails.com.