Engineering study slated for Heartland Trail Spur

Hubbard County commissioners heard an update on the proposed Heartland Trail Spur to Itasca State Park last week.

 
The Heartland Trail Spur, if funded, would connect bikers, hikers and snowmobilers on a 24-mile jaunt from CSAH 4 to Itasca State Park. (Map courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

The Heartland Trail Spur, if funded, would connect bikers, hikers and snowmobilers on a 24-mile jaunt from CSAH 4 to Itasca State Park. (Map courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

 

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff will conduct a preliminary engineering study this spring/summer of the preferred route and develop an estimated cost, with the goal of bringing the proposal to state elected officials and seeking funding during the Legislature's bonding year in 2020, according to Tim Williamson. He works in the DNR Parks and Trails regional office in Bemidij.

Eric Haugland, a Park Rapids resident, is on the citizens-led Heartland Spur committee, which includes a variety of stakeholders, DNR staff, two county commissioners and trail users.

"In 10th grade, in 1975, I was in the audience for a government class. I remember there was someone, like we are now, speaking for a bike trail to Itasca. And now this steering committee has been going on for about 10 years now," Haugland told the county board.

The current bike route from Park Rapids to Itasca, along U.S. Hwy. 71, is considered dangerous due to the high traffic levels and narrow shoulders with rumble strips.

The reason for the spur, Haugland said, is "to have a safe ride up to Itasca and possibly have a scenic ride, too."

Not only that, but the spur is expected to be an economic driver. It will complete a circular route that includes the Paul Bunyan State Trail and the Mi-Gi-Zi Trail. It connects the major tourism areas of Park Rapids, Itasca State Park, Bemidij, Cass Lake, Walker and the dozen smaller communities, according to the 2019 spur proposal.

The Heartland Trail Spur is considered a "destination trail" in the DNR's latest system management plan, which means that this proposed trail is expected to get the highest level of use and the highest investment. 

For full article, go to: Park Rapids Enterprise

Source, image(s), credits & more: Park Rapids Enterprise | Shannon Geisen