Saturday, November 3, 2012

Park City-to-Mammoth Cave trail connection complete

On Saturday, November 17, the public is invited to celebrate the connection of two bike-hike paths - the nine-mile Mammoth Cave RR Bike & Hike Trail to the one-mile Park City Bicycle and Walking Path. Participants should gather at 10:30 a.m. at the historic Mentz Hotel in Park City.

"There will be brief remarks at 10:45, and we will cut the ribbon and release the runners and riders at 11:00," said Myrisa Christy, Mammoth Cave Resource Conservation and Development, who is organizing the event. "The Mentz Hotel will be open for viewing, staffed by the BRIMS volunteers. We really hope the community comes out to enjoy the day and support the excellent partnership between Park City, Mammoth Cave, and the Kentucky Department of Transportation."

The Kentucky Department of Transportation provided the connection by including a lane for bicycles and hikers in its reconstruction of the I-65 underpass at Exit #48. BRIMS stands for the Barren River Imaginative Museum of Science.

"The trail has been about ten years in the making, and we truly appreciate and applaud the Kentucky Department of Transportation for providing the connecting link," said Park City Mayor David Lyons. "Hikers and bicyclists can now travel the route of the old Mammoth Cave Railroad all the way from Bell's Tavern and the Mentz Hotel in Park City to the resting place of Engine #4 and its combine car near the Mammoth Cave visitor center."

"It's like putting history back together," said Bruce Powell, Mammoth Cave NP Acting Superintendent. "Park City and Mammoth Cave share a common history related to the Mammoth Cave Railroad, which operated between the two entities from 1886 to 1931. Now a recreational trail will tell its story."

The Park City Bicycle and Walking Path winds through town, past Bell's Tavern and the Mentz Hotel. In the Park, the trail follows the remaining portions of the old berm of the Mammoth Cave Railroad. There are six entry points so that hikers and bicyclists may choose to cover the entire 10-mile length, or opt for shorter segments.

Wayside exhibits along the length of the trail describe daily life of the families and communities that called Mammoth Cave home prior to creation of the national park in 1941. The "dummy engine" pulled a single car loaded with freight and travelers on their way to see the famous cave; the engine and car are displayed in a field near Mammoth Cave Hotel, where the depot once stood.

Within in the Park, the trail is NOT uniformly flat or level. The Park is located in hilly country, and riders/hikers must ascend and descend grades that can in places be steep and difficult. On the sections of trail between the Furlong Cemetery spur trail and Shackleford Cemetery, and between Diamond Caverns and Locust Grove Cemetery, riders MUST dismount and walk their bikes along the designated area of trail.

Caution: The exact route of the Mammoth Cave Railroad could not be completely duplicated due to the development of state and Park roads since the railroad's closure. The route of the trail crosses these roads at several places and some walkers may choose to cross the CSX Railroad in Park City. Trail users are asked to use extreme caution at road crossings and the railroad crossing.

Hiking in the Smokies

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