Mammoth Cave National Park’s Green and Nolin Rivers Blueway has been designated as a national recreation trail.
The Blueway was one of 10 trails across eight states to earn the distinction, with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland making the announcement last week to celebrate National Trail Day.
Each of the 10 trails will receive a certificate of designation, a set of trail markers and a letter of recognition.
At more than 36 miles long, the Mammoth Cave waterway is one of 1,300 paths in the national trails system.
“As COVID-19 vaccination rates increase and our nation takes a collective and cautious sigh of relief, we need recreational resources now more than ever to strengthen physical, social and mental health across our country,” Haaland said in a news release. “National recreation trails boost local economies, provide communities with safe, equitable access to the outdoors.”
Mammoth Cave National Park Public Information Officer Molly Schroer said the recognition has greater significance with the Blueway being the first national water trail in Kentucky.
“Everyone who has worked so hard to get this designation in place is very excited to have a portion of the Green and Nolin rivers selected as a national recreation trail,” Schroer said. “The new designation will help increase public access to these scenic and biologically diverse rivers areas.”
The national recreation trails program is administered by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service in conjunction with federal and nonprofit partners. The selection of a national recreation trail is done by the secretary of the interior or the secretary of agriculture on an existing local or regional trail.
The trail’s managing agency or organization must apply for the distinction.
Schroer said the four partners that worked together to earn the national distinction locally were Mammoth Cave National Park, Nolin River Lake’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Edmonson County and Cave Country Trails.
She said Cave Country Trails was formed to promote trail use and trail development within four counties connecting to Mammoth Cave National Park.
There are 18 trip options along the Blueway with trips ranging anywhere from 2 to 29 miles in length. The public is free to kayak, fish, camp or simply enjoy the wildlife, diversity of landscapes and woodlands found along the scenic journey.
Schroer said the extra recognition is expected to attract additional interest from people who might not have known about paddling opportunities at Mammoth Cave.
There are seven access points available for the public to launch kayaks or canoes into the river for a scenic trip through the park.
– For a complete map of the Green and Nolin Rivers Blueway along with the locations of the access points, visit cavecountrytrails.com.
– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.