What's Happening: Rail-Trail Roundup - February 2015

Posted 02/12/15 by Greta Zukauskaite in America's Trails, Building Trails

Snow family relaxes on the High Line in New York | Photo courtesy Karen Blumberg | CC by 2.0

We know—there’s always so much going on in the rail-trail-bike-ped movement from month to month that it’s impossible to capture it all. But for a brief glimpse of 10 really cool, recent happenings…read on!

1A New 42 (Mich.)

Major piece of news from the Great Lakes State. The official opening in January of the 42-mile Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee (C-I-S) Trail is a huge milestone in a growing rail-trail network—which includes the 22-mile Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail, the 16-mile Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Rail Trail, and the 41-mile Fred Meijer Heartland Trail. That means about a 125-mile system through Midwest Michigan. The completed CIS trail, which includes nine bridges and trestles, showcases river views, farm fields and woodlands as it travels across five quaint communities.

Maple River Trestle on the Fred Meijer CIS Trail | Photo by Prein & Newhof, Inc.

And the trail fun doesn’t stop there in Michigan…

2Naming a Future Bike/Ped Legacy (Mich.)

In September 2014, the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assigned residents the creative task of naming a planned biking and hiking route stretching from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula, which, when complete, will provide more than 1,250 miles of hiking and 774 miles of biking opportunity. After sifting through 9,000 possible name suggestions, the “Iron Belle Trail” was chosen as the winner. DNR Director Keith Creagh explained the decision in a Jan. 26 press release, stating that the new name “effectively captures the beauty and strength of our state’s exceptional natural and cultural resources.”

3Natural State of Trails (Fla.)

The newest segment of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, a.k.a. Phase 4-Section C, in Fla., is on its way—and nature buffs, get this: The project will wind through preserve space, just like the existing part does, but...this segment will cut through the super au naturale Brooker Creek Preserve. Get out the binocs!

4Farm to Trail (Wash.)

Speaking of unique, a new policy in Washington passed by the parks and recreation commission will allow motorized travel that is usually prohibited on most trails. Now, farmers and ranchers can use the 455 miles of rail-trails in the state occasionally, for a fee, if the trails cut through their land.

Pacific Grove Trail in California | Photo courtesy Kim Smith | CC by 2.0

5Short but Sweet (Pa.)

Residents in Lancaster County, Pa., are feeling the benefits of trails in a more traditional (and totally awesome) way. The opening of a 1.2-mile-long path is now connecting people in the county like never before, linking 4,000 residents in Akron to 13,000 residents in Ephrata, and providing safe and easy routes to work.

In the spirit of the A-Team, allow us to say this: We love it when a trail brings people together.

6Pennsylvania’s Trail of the Year Is a Rail-Trail (Pa.)

We recently heard that the York County Heritage Rail Trail has been named Pennsylvania’s 2015 Trail of the Year! Attracting more than 300,000 visitors annually, the award is well deserved. According to Cindy Adams Dunn, acting secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the trail stood out because of its importance to residents’ health and fitness, its connection to the history of the area and for being a “rare” example of a rail-trail with active rails nearby.

799 Years on the Trail (Mass.)

Residents in a Massachusetts community will soon be able to start building and designing a rail-trail they have been patiently waiting for. For the first time ever, the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority (MBTA) is leasing land to a nonprofit organization in an effort to create a 4-mile-long rail-trail paralleling the Squannacook River between Townsend and Groton. Squannacook Greenways has received a 99 year lease from the MBTA, and design for the trail will begin soon.

8Waterway to Gateway (Minn.)

Minnesota is celebrating the completion of the new Brown’s Creek State Trail—a 5.9-mile pathway stretching from the St. Croix riverfront town of Stillwater to the town of Grant (where it connects to the Gateway State Trail)—great for walking, biking, rollerblading, horseback riding and skiing. The segment opened in late October, and a dedication ceremony is planned for National Trails Day, June 6, 2015. Welcome!

Dragon building on the High Line in New York | Photo courtesy Karen Blumberg | CC by 2.0

9Freedom of Recreation in Pacific Grove (Calif.)

And we won’t stop there. City officials in Pacific Grove, Calif., have approved a contract to lease an 8.3-mile section of disused rail line (formerly the Union Pacific) so it can finally be used as an official hiking and biking trail. City Manager Thomas Futchery said the lease will “give our residents and visitors unrestricted access to the trail for recreational activities.” We love to hear that.

10Winter Beautification on the High Line (N.Y.)

And here we’ll end with a little merriment: As many of us know, the spring and summer months aren’t the only times to have fun on the trail. The High Line in New York City is getting people to embrace some recent snow storms and engage in some wintery fun. This unique and legendary rail-trail on Manhattan’s west side is hosting a “Snow Sculpt-Off” where residents and visitors can show off their skills and creativity for a chance to win prizes from different retailers in the city. Good luck, everyone!

Until next time…happy trailblazing!

Is there a rail-trail opening or major milestone event related to a rail-trail or bike/ped project in your local area?  Tell us

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