Oscar Lark, on 3-year-old Buttercup, is a trainer and a longtime rider at Long C Trails. (Photo courtesy Jack Hanes)
SCOTTSVILLE, Ky. - Long C Trails is a family-operated trail ride that offers clean family fun in a peaceful, alcohol-free atmosphere, promises its owner.
“Riders and hikers can enjoy the scenery of middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky, including over 2,000 acres of horseback-riding trails, winding Long Creek, scenic overlooks, waterfalls, wildlife, and majestic bluffs,” owner Jack Hanes said. Customers have their choice of riding or hiking through woods, to creeks, to scenic overlooks, or around the property’s waterfall.
Those who don’t own horses may go on guide-assisted rental rides for $25 for the first hour and $20 for each hour after. Children under seven can be led by guides in the round pen ($12 for 30 minutes). Camping out or sleeping in for a day, a weekend, or up to two weeks is also accommodated, as customers craft their own one-of-a-kind experiences.
The 450-acre farm has been in Jack’s family for over 200 years. His grandfather was born there. When Jack retired as an educator in 2002, he had already begun looking for some way to save the family farm and be sure that it always would at least pay its own way.
“About that time, it was pointed out to me that there was not a facility anywhere in this area for people to ride their own horses, so that’s how it started,” Jack recalled. “I started talking to the neighboring farmers, and I was able to convince 14 of my neighbors to allow me to build horse trails.”
Jack now operates trails that span 2,000 acres of his and others’ lands under individually negotiated agreements with the adjacent landowners.
Both the horse barns were already on the farm, built in 1891. Jack renovated the barns in 1999 and 2002. Things took shape gradually after that. One of the primitive cabins was completed in 2006, and the two-story hotel was constructed over 18 months across 2008 and 2009.
Guided rides began in 2000, and the trails were marked in 2001. “Now I have GPS maps of all the trails, and I have marked way points and put up metal signs,” Jack said.
The campground opened along with the trails. From 12 electrical hookups, Long C has grown to 23. This operation is run by Jack and one other full-time person, Kristyn Sullivan, and two or three part-timers, one of whom is Jack’s son B.J.
Flexibility of services is a key to Long C’s operation. You may ride your own horse or rent one of theirs. You may camp overnight, in the designated camping areas.
You may book a stay in the 1,800-square-foot “vacation home,” Rocky Top Ranch, with two bedrooms, full kitchen, covered porch, sun room, and living/dining room.
Your horse will board in similar luxury: The building has its own private four-stall, two-paddock barn with ample grazing area and a private trail leading into Long C’s extensive network of riding trails. Less extensive lodgings include the Grassy Knoll cabin, which sleeps 12, and the Hole in the Woods cabin that sleeps four.
More traditional inn accommodations are found in the “Long C Hotel,” which has two rooms (numbered 209 and 409), sleeping two or four guests, with more hotel-style amenities, including linens, towels, blankets, individual heat and air controls, mini-refrigerators, microwave ovens, and televisions with DVD players.
One may also dispense with riding altogether and hike any trail, including a special two-mile nature trail Jack has carefully laid out, labeling trees and flora along the way, leading to a small waterfall. This trail is rated moderate to difficult because it includes an optional steep 110-foot descent leading down to the base of the waterfall that requires careful use of a rope handrail.
“If you don’t want to travel the steep section, you may take a shorter route and still see the waterfall from above, but you won’t have to descend into the valley,” Jack said.
Also along the trail, hikers will see what Jack promotes as the largest grapevine in Kentucky (to his knowledge), with a 24-inch circumference. Hikers also take in springs, gorges, switchback trails, and scenic overlooks.
Those who don’t own a horse may rent “for a look at nature’s beauty that only can be seen from horseback,” Jack said.
Non-trail activities include swimming and basketball. A restaurant is temporarily shuttered until a new cook is found.
Jack said the Long C has the “brown signs” (state transportation department tourism directional signs) because “we’re 10 miles away from the nearest state highway, town or anything, in definitely a rural area.” All they have to do regarding directions is “get people to Scottsville and tell them to follow the signs,” Jack said.
Spirit- and charity-driven
The stable holds “Cowboy Church” every Sunday at about 8:30 a.m., a tradition for visitors and local residents since early in Long C’s history.
The stable also regularly partners with the Hearts and Hands Missions group, which operates outreach programs in Honduras. Stable functions raise funding for the group, and the group serves food for the stables. H&H membership is drawn from several Franklin, Kentucky-area churches.
The stable held a Memorial Day event for a departed longtime friend. The “Remember Jerry” Ride paid tribute to the memory of Jerry Wilson Brown, Jack’s best friend, who ran a barbershop on the premises and was unofficially known as the face of Long C Trails.
This year’s ride and buffet, Jack reported, this year raised $800 for High Point hospice in Gallatin, Tennessee, which had furnished end-of-life care for Brown, and also $2,000 for the Hearts and Hands Honduras mission.
On June 12-14, departing each morning at 9:30, the stables will host the “Mike and Margaret Likens Wagon Trail Ride.” Camping is available if reserved through Long C, and food will be available to raise donations for the Hearts and Hands Mission Team. For more information about joining the ride, call Mike or Margaret at (615) 655-4111.
The stable also holds a riding event to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis the last weekend in August (this year Saturday, Aug. 26) and seasonal observances for Father’s Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.
Jack is not shy about insisting that Long C Trails is a God-driven business. “God has blessed me, as a plain old country boy, in more ways than are imaginable,” Jack said. “I ask Him every morning to guide me in what he wants me to do that day. This business basically belongs to Him.”
Jack makes a regular request of his customers, and of Sunday morning visitors to Cowboy Church, to “ask God each day to guide us all to do what He needs us to do.”
Jack looks to divine inspiration even for management guidance. “When I get a nagging feeling that I ought to do something, and it won’t go away, I figure it was from God — and I build another building,” he said.
If God makes management demands, He also tenders rewards. “God sends us the most awesome people every weekend, but it’s because we’ve got so many people asking God to guide us,” Jack explained.
This article first appeared in the June 2015 issue of Agritourism Monthly, a Kentucky Department of Agriculture newsletter dedicated to Kentucky's agritourism industry. Jim Trammel is managing editor of Agritourism Monthly.