• Tue September 25 2012
  • Posted Sep 25, 2012

It's taken 12 years, some $8 million, and a lot of work--but now, the new Trout Run Trail in Decorah is open to visitors. The recreational trail runs an 11-mile loop around the city, going over bluffs, rivers and even past the famous Decorah eagles nest.

Bicycle after bicycle, walkers, and joggers are filling Decorah's completed Trout Run Trail. The 11-mile contiguous pathway adds to the city's reputation as a biking and hiking friendly community.

John Koester makes the short trek to Decorah from Cresco daily, often with his two jack russell terriers in tow.

"It's a little tougher trail. It's up and down hill. But it's great exercise. We do it every day! The puppies like it, and there's nice scenery," Koester said.

Creating the Trout Run Trail involved buying farmland, blasting out limestone, building bridges and pouring lots of concrete to create wide trails, spacious enough for several people at once.

"It's not built across old railroad beds where you just take out the asphalt pavers and away you go. This is something where we constructed it along streams, over hills and dales, and it made it special that way," said John Hjelle, founding member of the Trails of Winneshiek group.

Adding to Trout Run's uniqueness--visitors can get an up-close glimpse at the famed Decorah eagles nest.

Several grants, including vision Iowa funding helped make the path a reality.

"Businesses are already feeling the impact trail users are having. Restaurants are full. Our lodging establishments have been booked basically every weekend since the spring," said Brenda Balk, Winneshiek County Tourism Director.

Now, as trees turn their fall colors, it should help bring even visitors to check out the new trail. But there's not just a tourism benefit. The trail system offers local residents an accessible means of staying fit.

"We really stress health and fitness in our community. Certainly the fitness aspect of a trail is well recognized, and this is really the kind of thing we need to add," said Decorah Mayor Donald Arendt.

On top of being an incentive to stay active, as it runs alongside rivers, countryside & wildflower patches--the trail gives every visitor the chance to see nature at its very best.

Decorah is working to become Iowa's next designated "Blue Zones" city. It hopes the new trail system will help it get that designation.




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