Knott County, Kentucky
Finding new places to ride can be a little bit of a task, especially in the mountainous areas of the Middle Eastern United States. Most private landowners may ride themselves, but they are not as easily convinced to let a huge mass of people invade their land. This is where a very interesting group of enthusiasts pulled together to make Knott County Kentucky the next upcoming ride destination. When asked by Kawasaki to come and join them on a sneak peak of this new ride area before it had officially opened, we jumped at the chance to not only experience the Kawasaki SxS line but a new riding area, too!
Kentucky has many mountainous areas, and the in the early 1960’s strip mining was introduced to Knott County. This form of strip mining began to level the tops of these mountains, filling the valleys with the by-products of coal mining. Before long, many years had passed; the mining companies had packed up and left. This left many areas of Knott County seemingly unusable. That was until the reclaiming process of these areas began to spark ideas and a whole new life into the rural Kentucky landscape. So with many hours invested in the courts and partnerships with surrounding landowners, the Mine Made Paradise Adventure Park was born. Bringing in a loader and clearing trees or forestation was not the only plan of attack, though. The owners of this park needed someone with great experience in building a manageable trail system on board to do this right. This is where Bill Reed and the S.A.M. (Strategic Advantage Marketing) company would shine, as Mr. Reed was key in the construction of the Hatfield-McCoy trail systems in West Virginia, so his expertise would benefit this project greatly.
Covering 43,000 acres so far, the park plans to grow. As the word spreads of the beautiful 100 miles of trails already in place, the goal is ultimately 63,000 acres of riding bliss. They actually envision being able to ride from Knott County Kentucky’s Mine Made Adventure Park to the Hatfield-McCoy trails and all points in between. The trail system currently has colored markers to give the riders an idea of what scope of terrain they could face on each trail. The easy trails are marked green for those beginners or less experienced riders, and then blue for the experienced crowd. There are even black-labeled trails for those who just love the rough stuff and don’t mind the adventure it brings. Most of these trails are relatively friendly to all riders, and the 40-mile loop we had taken with a Kawasaki Teryx was just a glimpse of what was available. The mapped out trail was purposely wide enough for our Teryx to travel with little trouble, but most of these trails will be side-by-side friendly. There will be trails for specific vehicles such as motorcycles, but the vast majority looks to be on the wider side. Most of these trails are built by connecting old gravel bedded haul roads, once used to get the coal out to the awaiting processing plant and wooded trails. The trails have everything, including hard packed clay, mud holes and many rocks that litter the valleys and creek beds.
The wildlife around this massive park is flourishing, too, and with the largest elk population this side of the Mississippi you are sure to catch a glimpse of these majestic animals. With help from Kentucky’s coal industry, the Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the restoration of the free-range elk population is totaling close to 7,000. Spotting these elk can be difficult unless you get up before sunrise to catch them grazing in one of the many grassy fields replanted during the reclaiming process.
The ATV training center located right at the trail head is a state-of-the-art facility that will help educate younger riders as well as their parents on safe riding and the need for it. This facility uses the trails that connect right off the front porch to teach riders the proper ways to navigate obstacles and trail types as well as getting them familiar with how their machine works. Bill Reed and Strategic Advantage Marketing built its trails to intentionally slow riders down and to promote the safe enjoyment of trail riding. They make the trails interesting and strategically carve trails while keeping scenic locations in mind. Many trails were built wide enough for UTVs to fit through the trees, which worked well with the 58” width of our Teryx. The coal companies who used to mine this very land have also been financially instrumental in building this awesome facility. According to Bill Reed, Mine Made Paradise Adventure Park is not only a ride destination but also an economic diversification engine to boost the area’s economy. The off-road adventure tourism is bound to bring more jobs and economic impact to the cities near the park.
The short time we had to spend at the Mine Made Adventure Park gave us a small taste of what was to come. I can only imagine the day when we can park at the ATV training facility and drive our Kawasaki Teryx all the way to West Virginia! Riding these days in new places is always an adventure and especially with people who genuinely love the sport. The fleet of Kawasaki Teryxes and Mules came back home safe due to really well laid out trails, and even though they may have needed a good wash they were most definitely the right vehicles to cruise the many elevation changes at the park. There is a definite effort coming together to keep the goal of family-oriented fun in the mountains of Knott County Kentucky.
Mine Made Paradise Adventure Park
ATV Safety Training Centers
Call (606) 233-0080 or visit www.kcrtc.com