trail tales
With our 25th anniversary behind us,
we’re feeling a bit nostalgic!
We’ve been
digging up some great old photos from the
past, including a few fantastic prints of staff
and supporters in classic RTC gear. This shot is
of our co-founder, David Burwell, in the latest
RTC jersey, hot off the press circa 2002! Now
we’d love to see photos of your RTC shirts and
jerseys of yesteryear, and the adventures they
have been on! Send your pics to magazine@
railstotrails.org, or post them to our facebook
What’s the kookiest
event you’ve ever seen or
participated in on a rail-trail?
What made it so wacky—
the theme, the people (or
animals!), the costumes?
By Theresa Pietsch, Haddon Heights N.J.
uring a recent trip along the 109-mile
in South
akota, we enjoyed the wackiest event
we’d ever seen on a rail-trail. We didn’t
anticipate the spectacle until we were upon
it, but were struck by the spontaneity and
uniqueness of the participants.
As you ride from Deadwood to Hill
City, much of the land surrounding the
trail is managed by the U.S. National Forest
Service, which leases many acres as open
range to local farmers. At milepost 69,
we watched in awe as the cows and their
calves walked along the trail as if in a
parade, until, eventually, they reached a
new pasture of grass on the opposite side.
Like any parade, there was a master
of ceremony. This “master” cow led the
procession and marked out the parade
route with a swish of the tail, and then,
making an exact turn, the remaining cat-
tle followed. Baby calves walked behind
adult cows, taking the same steps in the
crushed limestone and gravel, some-
what oblivious of the human spectators’
excitement to witness the event.
Remnants of the parade remained
after the cattle had reached their
destination. And though these mounds
did require careful navigation of our
bikes, we didn’t care because we had
just participated in the kookiest and
most spur-of-the-moment event ever.
Milepost 69 on the George S. Mickelson
Trail can now be christened the venue
for the “Parade of Cattles.”
makes the case for
more trails in Illinois
A new partnership between Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy (RTC) and Trails for Illinois
will soon produce the first ever compre-
hensive study of trail usage in that state.
received a
grant from Tawani Foundation to fur-
ther its effort to make the case for invest-
ment in trails, it turned to an organiza-
tion with a long history of promoting
trail development in the Midwest: RTC.
Late last year, RTC staff spent a week
visiting a wide variety of trails across
Illinois, including the Tunnel Hill State
Trail, the Rock Island Trail and the Old
Plank Road Trail, to retrieve automated
trail counter equipment which had been
tracking user activity over the previous
months. At the same time, teams of local
volunteers were distributing and collect-
ing trail user surveys, which included
questions about spending patterns.
It’s part of Trails for Illinois’ ‘Make
Trails Count’ push. “We want to show
Illinois and its communities the triple
bottom line benefits—economic growth,
improved health and environmental
stewardship—that trails are creating,”
says Trails for Illinois Executive Director,
Steve Buchtel. “We want to put a num-
ber on those benefits so decision makers
take them seriously.”
The results of those surveys are
now being analyzed by the Illinois
Department of Natural Resources and
the University of Illinois. “In terms of
trail development and trail use, so much
has happened in Illinois over the past few
years, but we really know very little about
it, “ says Eric Oberg, RTC’s Manager of
Trail Development in the Midwest. “This
survey is the first of its kind for the state,
and will go a long way to demonstrat-
ing the significance of these trails to the
people and businesses of Illinois.”
The report on trail-usage patterns and
the economic impact of trails tourism
in Illinois comes out in the spring. Stay