Trout Run Trail dedicated
The recently-completed Trout Run Trail brought Decorah community members to several events this weekend, including a 5K and half-marathon run, a dedication ceremony, a community party and a ribbon cutting.
The trail stretches from downtown Decorah to the Fish Hatchery, creating an 11-mile loop. Associate Director of Alumni Relations Kirk Johnson (‘82) explained the unique features are what draw many to it.
“It’s not miles and miles of the same thing,” Johnson said. “There’s a fair amount of variety in it: switchbacks, the river, the trout hatchery, and, for now, we have an eagle’s nest.”
Benefits to Decorah residents and students alike are varied.
“It provides a recreational opportunity, which encourages healthy lifestyles,” former City Manager Jerry Freund said. “It means we can get outside any day, whether it’s to bike, jog, or snowshoe.”
Leaders also believe it will generate tourism for Decorah.
“It’s a huge tourism asset not only to this area, but to Iowa,” Director of the Winneshiek County Convention and Visitors Bureau Brenda Balk said. “We’ve already welcomed in guests from all over the country to check out the trail. It will create huge economic benefits for this area.”
Many also believe it will increase residents’ quality of life.
“I think it will bring more people who work out of their homes who want to move here,” Lead Trail Volunteer Mike Huinker said. “Northeast Iowa will compete well in attracting people to move here.”
The idea to pave a trail between Decorah and the Fish Hatchery has been in the works for at least 20 years. In 2005, when a team of volunteers including Huinker and Johnson started contacting landowners to find out if they would be willing to sell their land so the trail could go through it, Andy Anderson (‘87) advised them to think bigger.
Until 2002, Anderson was an assistant attorney general with the Iowa Department of Justice, representing the Vision Iowa Board, from which the trail was partially funded.
Anderson told the team that if they broke ground then, they wouldn’t be eligible for as many state and federal grants. He then gave them the idea for the loop.
Through grants, fundraising and donations, $8 million was raised for the completion of the trail.
“We’re still fundraising, but we’re really close,” Johnson said.
The trail will benefit Decorah residents for years to come.
“It’s really just the ribbon that ties this community together,” Freund said.