Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Trails

Last year I built this parks-type sign for the trails Rex built on the property he moved to in a neighboring town. He has an open attitude about his trails, i.e. he lets bow-hunters hunt deer and neighbors hike.

Rex lives on the western portion of the lakes district of Hennepin County, Minnesota. It's the western most extent of the Big Woods, and full of glacially-created lakes and wetlands. Driving around a few summers ago, I noticed that this glacially-sculpted landscape would be an excellent location for a woodland trail. I became aware of an arc formed along an esker traveling roughly north to south, extending a short distance from Rex's property. In Google Earth, I mapped out the rough route you see above and below.

Ideally the trail would follow the arc from his trails all the way to the Dakota Rail Trail south of the Gale Woods Farm. But property being as it is, the trail would have to go around the farm field belonging to one of his neighbors. Afterward, it would follow the eastern side of the esker along Little Long Lake and it's string of smaller lakes all the way to the Dakota RT. Once there, you could walk east to the town of Mound, and Rex could even stroll by his old property on Lake Langdon while on his way to town.

Not far to the north is another rail trail, the Luce Line State Trail. From Rex's current trails, we could strike a trail along Painters Creek all the way to an intersection with the Luce Line. Painters Creek is part of the Minnehaha Watershed, and has been straightened or re-routed in places. A hiker following its course from Lake Minnetonka could potentially follow it all the way to Baker Park. Some of the trail would need to be boardwalk as the creek routes through wetland marshes.

I think my inspiration for this trail is the Long Path, the NJ through NY trail that one could hike from Fort Lee, New Jersey all the way to near Albany. Utilizing many public park trails along the way, the path also traverses private property. Where property owners won't provide trail access, hikers must take the roadways. The NY-NJ Trail Conference works with landowners to keep trails off the roads and advises hikers to respect private landowner's wishes.

Could the landowners, private and public, join to create a trail like this? To be continued...

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