About 80 people gathered at Maple Springs Trailhead on Saturday, June 7th, National Trails Day, to celebrate the Big Hollow Trail, a new 8-mile trail constructed in Mammoth Cave National Park for hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers.
“With Big Hollow Trail, we add a new way for visitors to experience the park,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “Trails are good for the park, and good for the visitor. Trails exercise your heart, mind, body, and soul. Trail use promotes healthy living – it re-creates, refreshes and revives. Last year, about 32,000 people used Mammoth Cave’s trails via bikes, on foot, or on horseback.”
Mammoth Cave NP has more than 90 miles of trails in the park. Hikers can use all 90 miles, plus go off-trail. There are 60 miles for horses and riders, and 25 miles of trails are designated for bikes.
The development of Big Hollow Trail was an action item listed in the park’s Comprehensive Trail Management Plan, and parallels the 2010 National Park Service agreement with the International Mountain Bike Association to increase biking opportunities in parks and increase volunteerism.
“Big Hollow’s purpose, design and maintenance are models for all national parks and public lands,” said Craighead.
* The purpose of Big Hollow Trail is two-fold – it initiates a new way to use the park that is compatible with protecting its resources; and it is a trail where hikers, runners, and bikers can share a common space.
* The trail design is sustainable, meaning it is easy on the landscape and will be easy to maintain.
* The maintenance – the users of the trail will maintain it. Members of the Southwest Kentucky Mountain Biker Association have signed a partner agreement with the park, making them the stewards of Big Hollow Trail.
Also speaking at the ceremony were Nick Daniels, Sierra Club; Chip Winger, Southwest Kentucky Mountain Bike Association; Andy Williamson, International Mountain Bike Association; and Russ Runge, acting superintendent at Mammoth Cave NP (Runge is sitting in for Craighead while she is on assignment at the NPS Southeast Regional Office).
Runge noted that urban forestry students from Great Onyx Job Corps also played an important role in creating Big Hollow Trail. “Last year, Great Onyx students cleared more than 100 dead or hazardous trees from the route of the trail, to make way for the contractor to begin his work,” said Runge.