July 30, 2015
Iowans have a new place to bike, hike, ride horses and experience the great outdoors. On August 7, Whiterock Conservancy is officially opening 32 miles of new and improved recreational trails that take visitors deep into the savanna, prairie, forest and pastures of Whiterock’s 5,500 acres.
“After so many years of effort in planning, fundraising and then building, I’m ecstatic to say the trails are open. Come explore Iowa’s backcountry!” said Conrad Kramer, executive director at Whiterock Conservancy.
The weekend of August 7-9 Whiterock will celebrate this major milestone with a grand opening celebration. Friday will have a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. and trail scavenger hunts will start at noon. A different scavenger hunt with prizes will happen each day, with participants being able to hike, bike or ride a horse. Bring a group to experience the new trails together or come solo and meet new people along the way. When visitors need a break, they can cool off with a beautiful canoe float or experience the river
valley from the back of a hay rack ride.
Saturday evening the party really gets going with a hog roast and live music by Bella Soul at the dance barn. Registration includes access to all of the trails and activities as well as a grand opening t-shirt. Full weekend registration is $65. A Friday or Sunday only registration is $30 and a Saturday only registration is $50. Children under 8 are free to all events but do not receive a t-shirt. If you would like to attend the Saturday night dinner, live band and party only the registration is $25. You can learn more and register at whiterockconservancy.org.
The new trails include 14 miles of single track mountain bike trails designed and built by professionals out of Colorado. Trails are designed to provide a fun and challenging ride for varying ability levels. Unique to Iowa, one five-mile section of trail deep in the savanna has no intersections. Winding through the river valley, there is a surprising amount of elevation change for anyone who thinks that Iowa is flat. An additional 22 miles of shared use trails connect riders to town and loop the entire property in a landscape scale adventure complete with amazing vistas over nearly every kind of wild and working land use found in rural Iowa.
The equestrian trails have been improved, resurfaced and expanded into areas never before open for riding at Whiterock. Over 20 miles of trails are open to equestrians.
All of the trails are open to hikers and runners who should find the singe track trails particularly good for a run. Even those who have visited Whiterock before will quickly learn the new trails allow visitors to get even deeper into the landscape and experience a new sense of awe at the beauty that can be found here in Iowa.
“These trails will be among the best destination trail systems in the Midwest and are expected to be a regional, if not national, draw. They should also be a huge asset to tourism in the area,” Kramer said. Kramer expects visitation to Whiterock to more than triple in the next few years, going from 5,000 people a year to over 20,000.
Whiterock is a private non-profit land trust, but is open to the public much like a state park. However, Whiterock has a broader mission. In addition to being open for recreation, Whiterock’s mission includes demonstrating sustainable agriculture practices, protecting and restoring prairie, savanna and other important habitat and serving as a natural outpost for experiential learning. For times other than the grand opening, a fee of $3 per day for mountain bikers and $10 per day for equestrians is charged to help with maintenance costs. There is no fee to hike or run, but Whiterock suggests a $2 donation.
Courtesy of Coon Rapids Enterprise 7/30/15.