Allen County Trail System Vision

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Allen County’s growing trails system was the topic of discussion at a recent “See, Hear Iola” meeting in Iola. Thrive Allen County Executive Director David Toland provided a status update and look ahead at these important community resources:

See Hear Iola - Trails

Toland shared the history behind the development of the Prairie Spirit Trail, which came to Iola in 2008 and was extended to Riverside Park in 2012, as well as the development of the popular Southwind Rail Trail, which connected Iola and Humboldt in 2013.

Toland also spoke about the ongoing development of the Mo-Pac Recreational Trail and the Lehigh Portland Trails, as well as giving a look ahead to future projects, which include a bike/ped bridge over Elm Creek on Washington Avenue, and an eastward extension of the Mo-Pac Trail.

Toland also unveiled new wayfinding signage that will be installed along the trail system to help trail users locate services and amenities within Iola.

Part of the discussion was an explanation of why trails are important for Allen County. As Toland explained:

  • Trails are good for our health.
  • Trails increase property values.
  • Trails make communities more attractive to prospective residents.
  • Trails mean tourism.

Toland revealed that our trails were a crucial factor in the recent recruitment of Dr. David Andersen and his family to Iola. Anderson, a new dentist at Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas in Iola, who is from Colorado and previously resided in Dodge City, Kansas, took a tour of the Lehigh Portland Trails project, and said “This feels a lot like Colorado.”

An extensive trail system like the one in Allen County is something that few other areas can offer. It is a major recruitment advantage.

Trails are also an important element in realizing Thrive’s vision of Allen County being the healthiest rural county in Kansas. Not to mention that trails are crucial to development of a Bicycle-Friendly Community, where people regularly ride for recreation, exercise, and transportation. With our robust and ever-growing trail system, Allen County is on the right path!

Learn more from Thrive Allen County: Talking Trails in Iola