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  • Jean Martin
  • Wed July 08 2015
  • Posted Jul 8, 2015
There is a lot happening in the Iowa Great Lakes Trails this summer!

This week's column will give you an overview of the many active trails projects and activities. While future columns will cover specific subjects in more depth.

First, both residents and visitors, if you need a trails map/brochure, you can pick one up at the Iowa Welcome Center, adjacent to the Arnolds Park Amusement Park, or any of our fabulous hotels and resorts. Enjoy our many miles of trails around the Iowa Great Lakes, featuring both hard surface dedicated trails and street routes alike.

The new Pioneer Beach Road trail has been finished. This mile-long plus stretch hugs the east side of East Lake, starting at Highway 9 and travels north to the State Fish Hatchery on 252nd Avenue. The trail is now open and is already getting a lot of use! Our grand opening celebration was held Monday, June 29.

On the west side of West Lake Okoboji, the final segment on a long run of trail along Highway 86 is now under construction. Once the grading and underground pipe work is complete, the trail will be paved with concrete. Weather permitting, it should be ready for use in the first part of July. The grand opening celebration for this trail will celebrate the completion of the entire trail along the west side of West Lake, and the generous donors who have made it possible. Stay tuned for the grand opening date and time.

Another trail that will be completed soon runs 1,400 feet in Spirit Lake, from just north of Hy-Vee, on Peoria Avenue, traveling in an arc northeast to join the Spine Trail at 15th Street. This is the first segment of trail on the former IANW Railroad bed. This Rails-to-Trails project will eventually result in over 40 miles of trail, from just west of Superior, traveling across both Dickinson and Osceola Counties, to Allendorf. The complete Rails-to-Trails project is a multi-year commitment that is now in the planning stage.

Also in the planning stage is a trail along the east side of East Lake Okoboji, from Highway 9 all the way south, to the Moore Lake Development area. The south end of this trail will connect to the existing Arnolds Park trail near Bridges Bay.

From that location, trail users will be able to travel to the Spine Trail and the entire Iowa Great Lakes area. This, too, is a multi-year project.

On the maintenance front, we are patching and resurfacing nearly two-and-a-half miles of the Spine Trail from the McDonald's area north, past the YMCA, to 23rd Street in Spirit Lake. This is one of our oldest trails, and the project will result in a great surface that will last for many years. As you are reading this, patching and part of the new asphalt overlay is completed, with resurfacing of other sections to follow.

The 2014 Okoboji RAGBRAI Committee made a generous donation to the trails for emergency and way-finding signage. This project is being coordinated with Dickinson County Emergency Management. The Trails Board has set up an Endow Iowa Maintenance Fund with the Okoboji Foundation as well. We are looking at the long-term need to assure that maintenance funds will be available into the future as we build more trails and our trails get older. Donations to this fund are eligible for a 25 percent state tax credit for Iowa.

If you, your children or grandchildren enjoy using the trails, we invite you to join the Friends of the Trails. Friends donations and pledges are used to provide matching funds for grants, building, and maintaining trails. More information can be found on our website dickinsoncountytrails.com. Click on the Donate tab, then Friends of the Trails.

Happy trails, and look for the next "Trails Talk" in two weeks, and every other week throughout the summer months. As always, you can also contact me via e-mail trailsdc@yahoo.com.


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