Long-Range Goal to Link Major Recreational Lakes
Most trail planning in central Iowa over the past two decades has centered around making connections. Whether connecting small communities or social venues, providing alternative travel access between popular destinations has been a common factor. In development for the past seven years, the Red Rock Prairie Trail is adding perhaps one of the most critical links yet. This nearly 16-mile-long trail extension (connecting Monroe, Prairie City, and Mitchellville) is part of the long-range goal of linking Saylorville Lake with Lake Red Rock and the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.
The Red Rock Prairie Trail will predominately run along a former rail corridor, eventually extending from Lake Red Rock south of Monroe to the Mitchellville city limits. The Snyder & Associates team recently completed the design and plan preparations for approximately eight miles of this multi-use trail extending from Red Rock Park in Monroe to Prairie City with a direct link to the entrance of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. The trail also provides access to Prairie City’s Garden Square Park in the center of town. Two former railroad bridges required structural retrofitting to complete the alignment of the eight-mile, Monroe to Prairie City, trail section.
Rail-Trail Funding Drives Project Forward
This new, hard-surface trail has been driven by relentless fund-raising efforts being led by Jasper County Conservation. This grant funding has included a “…$510,000 Federal Lands Access Program grant, a $263,711 Federal Recreational Trails grant, a $240,000 Transportation Alternatives Program grant, and a $116,839 State Recreational Trails grant.”
Because the former railroad line used for the trail alignment was one of the first three rail lines across central Iowa, the grant manager (Iowa DOT) required an additional level of historical and cultural studies to ensure the project did not adversely affect the original site. Our design team worked closely with Iowa-based Wapsi Valley Archaeology to ensure the new trail would not damage any areas of historic significance.
By linking the two, major central Iowa lakes via a multi-use trail, state and local agencies anticipate a marked increase in out-of-state (and in-state) recreational enthusiasts using this unique trail configuration to travel between these Midwestern destination spots. Our design team continues to work with Jasper County Conservation and other agencies to plan the remaining trail sections to wrap up this important trail connection.