Some two dozen rec-trail fans turned out Wednesday morning to celebrate the inclusion of the High Trestle Trail connector trail to the Raccoon River Valley Trail in the continent-wide route of the new Great American Rail-Trail — a 3,700-mile multi-use trail running from Washington, D.C., to Washington state.
“The ‘Great American’ will be an experience like no other—offering a seamless, safe cross-country pathway that allows travelers to enjoy the incredible beauty and bounty of the United States,” said Ryan Chao, president of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, during Wednesday’s nationwide route unveiling.
Dallas County Conservation Board Director Mike Wallace, Dallas County Conservation Board Chairperson Lorinda Inman and Raccoon River Valley Trail Association Chairperson Sandy Lowe were joined by Perry-area supporters and community leaders to mark the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) recognition of the Let’s Connect trail.
“We are thrilled that the conservation board will host the Great American Rail-Trail along the northern part of Dallas County,” Wallace said.
The rainy morning weather caused the relocation of the event from the Big Bike at the Perry Welcome Depot to the lobby of the Hotel Pattee, where Wallace shared the latest connector-trail news, including reaching the $3.2 million mark in fundraising for the $5 million connector-trail project.
Wallace said more than $400,000 in funding has been raised since October 2018, including a recent $325,000 Federal Recreation Trail Grant and donations of $25,000 from Tyson Fresh Meats, $25,000 from an anonymous donor, $15,000 from Apple, $14,000 from MidAmerican Energy, $13,500 from the Bock Family Foundation and a good number of $1,000 donations.
The nine-mile Let’s Connect trail, from Woodward to Perry, will link the 25-mile High Trestle Trail to the 89-mile Raccoon River Valley Trail, giving Perry a two-headed trailhead for both trails. Its inclusion as a leg in the Great American Rail-Trail is another feather in the Let’s Connect cap and will help to attract further grants and donations, Wallace said.
Chao was enthusiastic about the new Great American Rail-Trail, which he called the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s “most ambitious trail project to date” and a project that “will prove to be a national treasure as it unites millions of people over thousands of miles of trails.” For more details about the Great American Rail-Trail, follow #GRTAmerican on social media and visit the Great American Trail website.