Summer weather is here and that means that people of all ages are itching to get outside! On a quest to deliver fresh outdoor recreational opportunities to the community, the Vinton Parks & Recreation Department is in the process of developing a multi-use nature trail system that will utilize approximately fifty acres of timbered city property just north of the sledding hill at Riverside Park. This network of trails will permit residents to experience the outdoors, connect with nature and maintain an active lifestyle right here within city limits. The final project will eventually be six to eight miles of looped trails ideal for walking, running, mountain biking, hiking and cross country skiing. The trail system will also provide access to beach areas along our stretch of the Cedar River as well as a public hike-in camping area. A wider, relatively flat 2.7 mile green loop ideal for walking, trail running or biking is expected to be fully complete and ready for use by late July.

In an effort to assure that sustainable, professional-grade soft trails are developed, the Vinton Parks & Recreation Department has partnered with the Linn Area Mountain Biking Association (LAMBA) to learn from their trail building expertise. LAMBA is the backbone behind many successful and highly utilized trail projects in the Cedar Rapids/North Liberty area including Beverly Park, Sac & Fox Trail, Squaw Creek and Sugar Bottom. LAMBA and VPRD have teamed up to create a concept plan for Vinton that will guide the department’s several phases of trail development from terrain that ranges from wide green paths perfect for a leisurely stroll with friends to hilly, flowing single track (narrow trail) that is ideal for the more adventurous mountain biking, hiking and trail running pursuits.

The Vinton Parks & Recreation Department is also excited to announce that it has recently been awarded a site visit from Subaru and the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). Only the second visit to the state of Iowa since its inception in 1997, this Trail Care Crew will spend their three day visit (July 28-30) talking trails, teaching proper trail building technique and will spend some quality time digging in the dirt. The focus of this visit is to teach “sustainable” trail building, which means trails that require minimal maintenance, reduces trail damage, protects the environment and enhances visitor enjoyment. This visit is one of about 40 stops nationwide on the 2016 schedule with San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Chicago, Breckenridge (Colorado) and Columbus (Ohio) among the other stops this year. VPRD, Subaru and IMBA have extended an invitation to land managers across Iowa and the Midwest to attend this informational and hands-on trail building experience. This FREE event will also be open to ANYONE that has an interest in better living through trails. More information about this visit and how you can register can be found at: www.imba.com/tcc/schedule

VPRD has also been awarded project assistance from an AmeriCorps NCCC ten-person team that will begin work on this trail network beginning on July 15th all the way through August 5th with 40 hours per week devoted to further developing our trails. VPRD has also already received some incredible assistance from the Vinton-Shellsburg Alternative High School students and a three-day community service project from members of Blessed Hope Church.

Signage, pedestrian boardwalks and a lot of other exciting features will soon be added so that the community can have one more way to enjoy the beautiful outdoors right here in Vinton! Aside from getting residents outdoors to appreciate nature, however, VPRD’s long-term goal is to further develop our community into one that could be considered pedestrian and bicycle-friendly. The more we have in utilizing the natural resources already available to us at minimal cost, the more competitively positioned our community will likely be when applying to secure state and federal funds for purposes pf developing hard-surface trails in and around Vinton that can otherwise be cost prohibitive.

If you have an interest in joining the local grassroots volunteer organization (Vinton Off-Road Cyclists or VORC), would like to become involved in the project in other ways or would like to learn more about our development plans, please don’t hesitate to contact our office. You may reach us at 319-472-4164 or by emailing us at vprdbarker@vintoniowa.net.