The city of Evarts was crowded over the weekend as tourists drove in from across Kentucky and the surrounding states to spend the Memorial Day weekend in Harlan County.
County employee Delbert Stephens said there were so many people coming into Evarts that they had to arrange additional parking at the new Verda jail site, even bringing in additional toilets.
He and county employee Larry Grubbs have spent the last two weeks on the park, driving close to 100 white trail signs into the rocky mountain.
"There's a lot of rock," said Stephens. "It's been a slow process. Some of the ground is dry and hard and has a lot or rocks, but we've got sign markers on the beginning and ending of every trail. We ordered 500 altogether, but they haven't all come in yet. They will be coming in within the week."
When the markers are completed, they will indicate the trail difficulty rating for ATVs and 4x4 trucks through a color coding as well as indicate trail numbers, campgrounds, trail heading arrow for "anyone that should get in there and get turned around" and black bear warning.
"We do have black bears up there," he said.
When coupled with the two new maps, which will be ready for sale by the weekend, everyone should be able to find their way safely around the over 7,000 acres of mountain trails and scenery.
The Kentucky Mountain Crawlers and Harlan County Ridge Runners are both expecting big turnouts of their members and guests this week.
"We're expecting 200-plus from all over the East Coast," said Ronnie Shoope, board member and webmaster for the Mountain Crawlers.
"We got people coming from Alabama, coming from West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri," he said.
He said the club has hosted mud bog competitions during the Poke Sallet Festival in previous years. But this year the club is devoting its efforts to leading tourists and working on trails.
"But that doesn't mean that we won't get on that mud bog Saturday evening," he added.
But before they can get there, they plan to do a little more work on the trails to get them ready for the heavy 4x4 traffic that's sure to arrive, taking a bulldozer to the park and making sure the roads are safe.
Safety is a concern of the Ridge Runners as well. Bill LeFevers, vice president of the club, said they will be asking that certain trails be designated as one-way, as he expects traffic to be heavy.
"No idea. I'd be afraid to guess," he said.
The club is hosting two pig roasts at Whitetail Ridge Campground and hopes for a big turnout.
"The first pig roast we had 397 people," he said. "I'm hoping we can top that."
For more information visit www.harlancountytrails.com.