Trail changes are in the making

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 21, 2003

TAOPI -- Hikers and bikers still can't get from here in Austin to there in LeRoy, but that is changing.

The Shooting Star bike and recreation trail ends at Taopi. Plans to extend the trail on to Adams and Rose Creek and finally Austin are just that: plans.

Uncertainties over the state budget deficit and the state bonding bill's proliferation of requests for funding will be large obstacles for the trail's supporters to hurdle.

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That's why the May 3, ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Taopi extension of the Shooting Star bike and recreational trail is significant.

The ceremony begins at 4 p.m. at the Taopi trailhead located along Minnesota Highway 56 east of Taopi.

After the symbolic ribbon is cut, refreshments will be served.

Beginning at 3 p.m., there will be fun activities and games for children.

The trail is the most popular project of Prairie Visions, the joint ventures organization of Rose Creek, Adams, Taopi and LeRoy.

Collaborative funding for the extension came from federal, state, county and local funding sources.

Presently, the hard-surfaced trail extends from the city limits of LeRoy to the trailhead east of Taopi near the Don Adams farm.

Completed last summer, the extension rolls along the north side of Minnesota 56 until crossing beneath the highway near the trailhead east of Taopi.

The trail largely follows the abandoned Chicago and Great Western railroad right-of-way.

Plans call for it to someday cross Mower County from east to west and provide a linkup to the Blazing Star Trail in Freeborn County, as well as the myriad trails moving eastward into the historic Bluff Country of southeastern Minnesota.

Another significant development this summer will be the new trailhead facilities at LeRoy near the LeRoy-Ostrander Public Schools softball field north of the school.

Recently, the LeRoy City Council approved $33,651 in funding for the handicapped-accessible parking lot at the east trailhead.

The paved parking lot will accommodate 30 vehicles, have a picnic area plus bathroom facilities.