We started the morning off early, hitting the road around 6:00 am so that we could get to Paintsville bright and early for our full day of adventures. Arriving at the Coffee House first, we were welcomed in by smiling faces and the aroma of fresh coffee. Everyone ordered their choice drink of the day and we caught up with Judy Daniel aka our Paintsville guru, who was our host and guide for the day.
After talking to Lena, the owner of the coffee house, and hearing her story, Cassidy, Natalie, Kevin, and Sydney decided to go tour the old Methodist church a few blocks down the street and see if they could talk to the pastor to get the inside scoop on the history of the building. After an inside tour and even a trip up to the tower (if you were downtown that day and heard bells ringing…yes, that was us), Kevin and the gals headed back to the coffee shop to meet up with James, Josh, and Kaitlyn, who had continued chatting with the coffee shop crew.
Since we were fueled up on caffeine, it was time to start biking! We were able to borrow some bikes to use on the Dawkins Line Rail Trail, which is an old rail trail, originally used for moving lumber, that has been converted into a recreational trail used for walking, running, biking, and horseback riding. We met Laura and her son, Waylon, who loaned us the bikes, and got the low down about the trail before taking off.
Even though we only rode a few miles, the trail was beautiful. Well taken care of and surrounded by the KY landscape, biking on the Dawkins was the perfect fall adventure for us. The trees were in full color and the cool breeze made the morning ideal. Once we had biked enough to work up a good appetite, we headed back to the trailhead, where Waylon interviewed Sydney about our trip. He’s the editor for the Paintsville Herald and wanted to feature us in an article, which was a cool way to share more about why we love Appalachia so much! If you want to read the article, check out it here.
For lunch, we headed to Smokin’ Butts BBQ per Judy’s recommendation. The restaurant is on a golf course, so we got a stunning view overlooking the green and the mountains in the background. We tried almost every entree on the menu, from pulled pork tacos to the brisket platter, and everything was fantastic, leaving us with full bellies for the rest of the afternoon. Time to head out and explore by land and by sea (lake)!
We split up into two groups, with Kevin, Kaitlyn, Natalie, and Sydney picking up some kayaks from Laura to paddle the lake, and Josh, Cassidy, and James went to check out the infamous Edible Trail.
The Edible Trail is a part of the Paintsville Lake Activity, Nature and Edible Trail (P.L.A.N.E.T.) – Outdoor Classroom. Once we arrived, we met Zac, Becky, and their golden retriever, Abraham Lincoln. They were excellent guides during our visit. The trail normally features a variety of edible fruit. We missed out on a lot of the fruit because of the time of year we visited, but Josh tried a persimmon straight off the tree.
While the edible trail was awesome, the property had many notable landmarks. These include a section of land covered in moss that felt like a fuzzy carpet and a walking bridge over a creek. Our favorite part, though, was a skinny peninsula that extended out into Paintsville Lake. Abraham Lincoln led us to the end of the peninsula where we stood atop an incredible lookout. Once we made it to the end, we had a panoramic view of the water surrounded by cliffs. The Edible Trail definitely earns the Explore Appalachia stamp of approval.
Meanwhile, the other crew out at the lake split up into a canoe and two kayaks. The goal was to paddle out to this little island and see if we could catch any fish. It was extremely windy on the water, so getting from the place where we put into the island was a little more difficult than we thought it would be.
The island was covered with lots of unique vegetation and rocks. Unfortunately, it was insanely windy, which made fishing very difficult. But, it’s like Kaitlyn always says, “it’s calling fishing, not catching.” After a little more exploring, we headed back to shore, with Sydney and Natalie winning the race home, despite being in a heavy canoe and carrying a cooler. After we dropped the canoe and kayaks back off with Laura, it was time to join back up with the whole team and head over to the Griffith Family Farm.
The farm is like an idyllic playground for both kids and adults alike. Kevin and Natalie explored the farm with Chester Griffith and got to hear all about their crop rotation and systems for creating farm-fresh deliciousness to share with community members and tourists alike. While they were out exploring, Sydney and Cassidy made it their mission to taste test the sparkling coffee and find some candy for the road. The rest of the team took a coffee break outside by this little brook that runs through the property. The sun started to set, so after watching it go down during some quality conversation and storytelling with Chester and his wife Melissa, we hit the road to head back to Paintsville. It was dinner time.
On queue for our evening entertainment was a concert featuring Senora May and dinner at The Alley, a swanky little restaurant and bar venue downtown. The place was already pretty packed when we got there, so we were thankful that Judy had made reservations for us. We headed inside and sat up on the second floor, with a perfect overlook view of the stage. Snacking on some appetizers like fried mac ’n cheese, loaded nachos, and flatbreads started off the meal strong, but the burgers and Nashville hot chicken sandwiches really took the cake. Everyone enjoyed watching Senora May’s performance, which was just about as laid back and fun as anyone could dream of!
After the show ended, we were all ready to head back to home base and call it a night. We said goodbye to hosts and drove off into the sunset- er, moonlight.