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Mammoth Cave National Park Produces Its Master Trails Plan


Mammoth Cave National Park officials have developed a comprehensive trails plan, one that keeps separation between horses and cyclists. NPS photo by Vickie Carson.

After much work and public input from more than 3,000 folks, Mammoth Cave National Park officials have released their comprehensive trails plan. And the solution they've chosen is not the park's preferred alternative, but rather one supported by the public comments.

Some of the high points:

* The solution backed by the public is nearly three times as expensive as the park's preferred alternative, $832,750 versus $287,250;

* Apparently most agreed horses and bikes don't mix, as the solution calls for a new, 6-mile hiking and biking loop trail that will be closed to horses. At the same time, bikes will not be permitted on the Sal Hollow Trail, the Buffalo Trail, and portions of the Turnhole Bend Trail, which will remain open to horses and hikers.

* A new multi-use trailhead parking area will be built with access off of the Green River Ferry Road-North. This facility will provide parking for 20 vehicles, as well as for 15 horse trailers. This is the most significant difference from the park's initially preferred alternative.

* A trail monitoring system will be created, as well as a trail stewardship program.

“All public comments have been received and given full consideration in this public planning process,” says Mammoth Cave Superintendent Patrick Reed. “You have spoken and we have heard you. Of the 2,905 comments received, only seven supported the park’s Preferred Alternative 5; 2,043 comments specifically stated they opposed the Preferred Alternative.”

You can find the planning documents at this website. After 30 days of public review, the trail plan will be submitted to Southeast Regional Director David Vela for his signature and approval.


The increased cost is bound to be a concern for the park, but the best news I read into this story is the fact the park listened to the public, and ditched their preferred alternative and took a different approach after reviewing the public comments. That's a refreshing contrast to what what we've seen with some other agencies and at the Departmental level lately.

I second Jim's opinion, and I also note with approval that the final plan provides accommodations for all sorts of different activities, including hiking, horseback riding, and biking....

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