May 21, 2024

Bikers, skiers have plenty to look forward to in Jasper County

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Biking and cross county skiing have become frequent activities throughout the state, especially with the number of trails available in the Des Moines metro area. Jasper County has the Chichaqua Valley Trail through Baxter and Mingo, but in the last year, there’s been another one in the making.

Through the Rails-to-Trails acquisition of an old railroad, a multi-use trail is currently forming in the southern part of the county connecting Monroe, Prairie City and Mitchellville.

The trail will be nearly 11 miles long and each town has several miles of separation so it will be mostly geared toward bikers and cross country skiers, but the opportunity will be there for anyone looking to take a day-long stroll through Jasper County as well.

In October, the Prairie City Rails-to-Trails project received an Iowa Department of Natural Resources grant of $75,000 through the Resource Enhancement and Protection program, which will be used to purchase .75 miles of the corridor within its city limits.

Jasper County is now in the process of acquiring the abandoned trail, which is another step forward for Prairie City in utilizing in REAP grant to gain possession of the town’s portion.

According to city administrator Manny Toribio, there are many phases to go through in order to create the trail of exercise and recreational use.

Toribio said Prairie City could also connect the trail to the newly installed bike lanes on the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge entryway road near Highway 117. The stretch, which is an enjoyable ride of several curves and hills through the prairie, is about 5 miles long and leads to the refuge building south of Prairie City.

In Monroe, there have been talks about a circular trail existing around town that could give people an opportunity to visit the sports complex, Jersey Freeze, Gateway Golf Course and Prairie City-Monroe High School — all by biking or walking.

According to Jeff Davidson, Jasper County Hometown Pride community coach, the Monroe committee has discussed wanting the circular path to be connected with the trail heading west to Prairie City.

For people wanting to bike or hike on a trail this summer, they don’t have to leave the county. The Chichaqua Valley Trail comes to a head in Baxter, goes through Mingo and eventually connects to hundreds of miles of trails in the Des Moines metro area.

“It’s a beautiful trail. I rode it from Baxter to Bonduraunt last fall and it’s just lovely,” Davidson said. “I’ve rode a lot of bike trails in my life and they’re not all lovely, but this one is very nice and enjoyable.”

Contact Alex Olp at aolp@newtondailynews.com