The rec trail committee is holding an open house on Tuesday, October 20 (6 p.m., Madison fire station). I'll go to urge them to build the trail without cutting down too many trees along the creek or on the hill on 234th Street.
I'll also go to offer this map and a proposal for the next big project: The Lake Herman Loop.
- From the Lake Herman State Park entrance, ride the big arc through the park's open eastern grassland. Then enter the trees of the old upper campground and ride in shade all the way to the southern boundary of the park. (Feel free to toodle around on the state park roads for a while first and rejoin the trail at Philosophizing Peak.)
- Drop down to the shore through Dirks Resort. Get a quick workout on the hill coming out of the resort.
- Turn west through the trees and ride the Southern Grassway, across the new Doblar Bridge for pedestrians over the southern tributary, all the way to Camp Lakodia.
- Ride on past Reynolds' and Langes' through Cottonwood Cove Pass to the boat ramp.
- Weave through the trees and over the hills on West State Park Trail and through the open pasture at the St. Thomas Recreation Center.
- Follow West Lake Road to the north bay and Stoneback Bridge, another new pedestrian bridge over the golf course creek.
- Ride 233rd Street and Territorial Road back to the state park entrance. Optionally, you can return to town along the Prairie Village–Creek Spur.
Advantages of this plan:
- Cyclists love loops. Riding out to Johnson's Point on the existing Highway 34–Lake Madison trail is fun, and the Madison–Lake Herman trail will provide a nice loopy destination. But it's even more fun not to have to retrace one's route.
- 7.5 miles of new Herman trail would nearly double the network that will already be in place. That kind of distance approaches the bicycle tourism destination level (i.e., people will drive here just to ride).
- Beautiful views of the lake. We showcase for tourists our county's best selling point: a gorgeous lake with lots of open, undeveloped, public green space.
- Eco-variety: this route includes everything! Shoreline, open prairie, and the closest thing to forest we get in this county.
- Eco-sense: by purchasing rights of way along the southeast and northwest shores, the city can establish a trail and plant the adjoining acres to native grasses to serve as buffers for the lake right next to major tributaries. Those grassy buffers will improve water quality at the head of the Lake County watershed and provide benefits for everyone all the way from my house to Brant Lake.
- Oh yeah, my house! My little girl can set up her lemonade stand right at Cottonwood Cove Pass and refresh weary travelers at the far western edge of their journey. I can also set up my bike repair stand and offer tune-ups and my best Chamber of Commerce welcome speech!
Update 2009.09.29: We've got some bike trail competition... in Yankton! Bernie Hunhoff at South Dakota Magazine reports that the Yankton City Commission voted last night to take possession of the old Meridian Bridge. Expect the bridge to become a vital link in a glorious network of bike trails around the Mother City of the Dakotas. We'd better hop to it on the Herman Trail!