Earth Day groundbreaking on new trail system near Coon Rapids

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 23rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for a new back-country trail system for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders at the Whiterock Conservancy near Coon Rapids. Conrad Kramer, the conservancy’s executive director, says construction of the new trail system should take much of the summer and into the fall, following a five-year effort to raise four-point-eight million dollars. Kramer says, “We’ve got five miles of really nice trail here and about nine miles of old farm lanes and basically what we’re doing is trading in our nine miles of old farm lanes for 35 miles of new trail.”

The five-thousand acre non-profit land trust is Iowa’s fourth largest park. Kramer says he couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than starting construction for a trail system that will allow many more Iowans to experience the beautiful natural landscape the conservancy was created to protect. “We believe it’ll be the best destination trail system in the state,” Kramer says, “and also the best destination mountain bike trail within 400 miles.” When complete, the 40-mile trail system will give visitors the opportunity to experience being surrounded by nature.

Winding through seven square miles of the Whiterock Conservancy, visitors will see oak savanna and prairie restoration areas, forests, ponds, stunning vistas, pastures and sustainably-farmed land in the Middle Raccoon River Valley. “We will have 16 miles of single track specifically designed for mountain bikers,” Kramer says. “We will also have six miles of single track specifically designed for equestrians to enjoy, and then we’ll have 12 miles which we’re calling our main track, a double track. Everyone can use it, mountain bikers, horseback riders and pedestrians.”

Low-powered “Gator” vehicles will be available to rent for anyone with mobility issues, senior citizens and families with young children, who would still like to see the sights. The groundbreaking was followed by the planting of at least 100 trees at the Bur Oak Visitor Center.

(Radio Iowa)