It started in 2007 with the announcement the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games would be coming to Lexington in 2010. In planning the festivities, Lexington citizens decided they wanted “legacy projects” … projects Lexington residents could enjoy long after the Games were gone … to be part of the celebration.
And it ends today, long after the Games have gone, with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on the final leg of the Legacy Trail, a 12-mile-long, mixed use trail that stretches from Lexington’s urban core to the beautiful Bluegrass that surrounds the City.
“This is a day to celebrate,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “We have a trail that thousands of local citizens enjoy, and an attraction that will bring in visitors from across the country.” The Legacy Trail is already the most popular trail in Lexington.
The trail connects the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden in the City’s historic East End, where the Hall of Fame jockey lived and worked, to the Kentucky Horse Park, where Murphy is now buried. Murphy won the Kentucky Derby three times.
“It took a lot of partners, private and public, and most importantly neighbors working together, to make this happen,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “Neighbors in the East End have worked together on so many projects to improve their neighborhood. They are an incredible group of people.”
The final, 1.5-mile segment of the trail is located mainly in the Third and Fourth street area, between Winchester Road and Jefferson Street. Construction on the final segment began in December of 2019.
“I believe this phase has had the most challenges, but I also believe this phase has the most opportunity to bring people together and build relationships, in addition to sharing the rich history of several downtown neighborhoods,” said Councilmember James Brown. The final segment of the trail is in his district.
In addition to funding from local, state and federal governments, the Blue Grass Community Foundation and the Knight Foundation played a huge part in making the trail a reality.
“The Legacy Trail is the crown jewel in Lexington’s system of public trails,” said Lisa Adkins, President/CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, which is building a legacy of giving in the community by providing professional philanthropic leadership and support. “More importantly, it’s a powerful catalyst for the development of more equitable greenspace in the city, including Town Branch Commons and Town Branch Park. Blue Grass Community Foundation and our partner, Knight Foundation, are proud to be among those who helped make the trail a reality.”
By next year, the Legacy Trail will connect to Town Branch Commons Trail downtown, completing 22 miles of uninterrupted trails, and a 5.5-mile loop downtown.