Visibility of Sustainable Development Efforts: Assessment of Kentucky Trail Towns

  •  Jayoung Koo    


Many communities work on trail projects as opportunities for sustainable development. Kentucky Trail Towns are accomplishing certification through a systematic state-wide program that guides communities, established in geographically advantageous locations, through a resource-based approach to community and economic development. Kentucky Trail Town communities proactively assess and explore physical assets, economic feasibility, and marketing strategies to capitalize on trails associated with adventure tourism. Since 2013, 17 Kentucky Trail Town certifications have been celebrated, particularly in and around publicly protected and managed areas, such as national and state parks and trail systems among other types of recreational destinations pertaining to adventure tourism.

This study systematically evaluated 16 Kentucky Trail Towns with a focus on wayfinding systems and communication of trail-related amenities and services emphasized in the program guidelines. This study found the effectiveness of trail towns in Kentucky to be in its infancy from a short-term perspective. As a long-term strategy, Kentucky Trail Towns should continue their efforts to sustain and strengthen their relationships between core areas of town and major destination trails along with implementing visible indicators throughout the community. Further planning and design considerations can complement existing trails to enhance visitor experiences while also supporting the host community to preserve their landscape characteristics and place identity.

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