Ski and snowshoe trails now open
Equipment rental to be offered
For the first time this winter, Grafton Parks and Recreation (GPR) is adding cross country skiing and snowshoeing to its list of offerings to the public.
The Grafton Parks and Recreation Department is making good use of the 76 acres of land they acquired last year from the State Developmental Center.
Approximately 38 acres of the newly acquired land is wooded and borders the Park River to the north. It’s located west, adjacent to Leistikow Park and is ideal for outdoor adventure.
GPR is currently working to expand on a trail system that was already there. The wooded area and park provides skiers and snowshoers with more than five miles of trail.
“The trails were here when we purchased the property from the state and they were developed by the archery club,” GPR Director Bill Dahl said. “But they were narrower. They were really designed for ATV’s and for people to walk on.”
Dahl said the goal is to widen all of the trails in the woods to at least eight feet wide to make room for the trail groomer and for maintenance equipment in the summer and fall.
“We’re kind of in brush removal and trail widening mode right now,” Dahl said.
There are currently two bridges in the trail system. One is an existing bridge that crosses a drainage near the river and another crosses the coulee in the southeast corner of the trail system that isn’t usable for equipment. Dahl said Kilmer Excavating donated work and a Texas-crossing over the coulee so that the groomer could make it through.
With grant money a new bridge will be constructed there this summer and the other bridge will undergo renovation.
“The bridge we’re going to be installing will be rated for 10,000 pounds so it will be able to handle a pickup truck,” Dahl said. “The other bridge will undergo some re-sheeting.”
Also with part of the grant money GPR received from the Recreational Trail Grant Program, tracks and a cab were purchased for the Bobcat four wheel drive utility vehicle they already owned to make it easier to pull the groomer, instead of purchasing a winter-only vehicle.
“It saved us some money and it really made it more functional and useable as a vehicle we already had,” Dahl said.
The trail groomer and track setter was built from scratch by GPR employees with the help of Terry Burns a couple of years ago. Dahl said they built the unit for $600. If they would have bought one it would have cost around $4,500.
The trail head is currently just north of the G-PR maintenance shop on the old state property. When the road through Leistikow Park is plowed the trails can also be accessed by the shelter near the river.
Dahl said in the future, plans are to convert the old paint shop located just west of the campground into a warming house. It will also house additional showers and a coin-operated washer and dryer.
“There are a lot of possibilities for the building. It’s there, now it’s just going to take some funding to make it more functional for what we need.”
Dahl said the trails are regularly used by a handful of skiers and hikers. Phys. Ed classes from Grafton High School have also been making use of the trails which are groomed by GPR staff every day.
In an effort to allow more people to enjoy the trails, GPR has purchased six pair of snowshoes and six pair of cross country skis that can be rented by the general public for use on the trails.
Dahl said trail-goers can often see a variety of wildlife including deer, rabbits and a wide range of birds.
“We really want people to get out there and experience it,” Dahl said. “It’s good exercise, it’s very peaceful and the wildlife is incredible.”
For more information on the trails and snowshoe and ski rental you can call Grafton Parks and Recreation at 352-1842.