Help build McGregor’s new hiking trail

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Swing some tools and leave a legacy. On Saturday, April 7, the public is invited to help build a new hiking trail through the forest between Center Street and Cemetery Road, in the city of McGregor. 

Interested persons should meet at the top of the hill on Center Street, just south of Eagle Drive, at 10 a.m. The work day will run until 3 p.m. 

The area is owned by the city, and the idea of developing a trail there has grown in the past few years, said Duane Boelman, McGregor’s deputy clerk and economic development lead, who organized several meetings late last year to discuss the proposed trail.

The proposed route would be roughly a mile long, with some twists and turns. The new trail will be dirt-surfaced and built with hand tools to minimize impact on the natural area. No previous trail building experience is required for those who would like to lend a hand.

Participants should be fit enough for strenuous activity and come prepared with gloves, long pants, sturdy shoes, water bottle and a lunch, if you plan on staying for the whole day. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. 

“You don’t have to spend the whole day. You can stay for an hour or two,” Boelman said. “We’re trying to keep it a low-cost project that we can do right now, so, in order to do that, we need people from the area to pitch in.” 

Plus, added Boelman, “I think we’ll have some fun.”

The trail project is a combined effort between the city of McGregor and Clayton County Conservation. Boelman credited Kenny Slocum, a naturalist with Clayton County Conservation, as a driving factor in moving the project forward. Slocum has experience with trail building, including the new Well’s Hollow Trail at Bloody Run County Park, outside Marquette.

Boelman said local forester Bruce Blair has also been helpful in mapping the trail and determining elevation, grade and other important details.

“We’re fortunate to have their expertise,” he noted.

Boelman said it’s unlikely the trail will be ready for use following Saturday’s work day.

“This is the first step,” he explained. “It’s going to be an ongoing process.”

Once this trail is completed, Boelman hopes other segments can be developed throughout the community, connecting with Marquette, Pikes Peak property and, eventually, the park itself.

“That’s long term, but I think it’s doable,” he said. “We’re lucky there’s a lot of public land.”

The DNR has been supportive of the idea and will be involved as planning moves forward.

Boelman also wants to see a trail head in downtown McGregor. That would encourage hikers to patronize the community’s shops, bars and restaurants.

“Trails can make a lot of economic impact on a community,” he said.

For more information, call the Clayton County Conservation Board at (563) 245-1516 or visit www.claytoncountyconservation.org, or contact the city of McGregor at (563) 873-3795.

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