Weather Forecast


Take a hike

Whether walking the family dog, exercising daily, biking or just walking off a large piece of pumpkin pie during the holidays, Cottage Grove residents can choose from more than 45 miles of trails and sidewalks.

The newest addition is an .89-mile paved trail south of existing Hamlet Park on the west side of Highway 61. The north end of the park can be seen from the Sieben Bridge on 80th Street across from Norris Square.

The new trail that begins by the ball fields near the park shelter is part of an industrial development project involving the building of Werner Electric Supply.

The city bought 50 acres, all of which was zoned industrial, and sold 20.21 acres back to Werner. The city kept the rest for park and storm water collection ponds, said City Administrator Ryan Schroeder.

"Werner is a wonderful neighbor for the park and the neighborhood," he said.

Part of the project, and the funding to create the ponds, came from the Minnesota Department of Transportation that was willing to help the city because it needed drainage east of Highway 61 in case of a 100-year flood event, Schroeder said.

The pile of gravel on the east side of the Werner building is from pond excavation, he said, and will be the site of four new ball fields.

Tree Trust constructed a broad stairway this past summer from the new trail up to Harkness Avenue, according to City Engineer Jennifer Levitt.

The cost of the paved trail project, including three benches, was $74,301, she said.

If an ambitious walker chose to walk it, it's 5.6 miles from the driveway of the Werner building on the new Hamlet Park trail and on to the trail that leads to 80th Street, across the Sieben Bridge, south on Point Douglas Road to Jamaica Avenue, across Highway 61 and up 95th Street back to Werner, according to Schroeder.

"It's interesting that people tend to find a paved trail shortly after it goes in," he said. "We have beautiful walks that are not as apparent as we would like."

When a trail is paved, neighbors have varying degrees of concern about their property being invaded, Schroeder said. After some time, however, opinions change to support.

Preparation for new paved trails next year has begun with excavation and gravel laid down on previously grass trails in Central Ravine Park.

The west end of the trail begins on the south side of Jamaica, east of Hillside Trail. It winds east to 80th Street. Another portion of the trail is slightly south of the 80th Street park access. It runs east to hook up to trails in and around Kingston Park.

A drainage culvert under 80th Street large enough to walk through in dry weather will eventually connect the two trails.

The cost of the one-mile stretch that crosses 80th Street was $58,230, according to Levitt.

Other trail improvements were made in Hearthside, West Draw and Meadow Grass parks.

All new trails meet Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, she said.

Money for new trails and trail improvements comes from a number of sources, Schroeder said.

When streets are reconstructed, the existing asphalt can be used as a base for trails, he said, according to city policy.

Some staff time is contributed when a new trail goes in and the city seeks grants whenever possible. Some trail development money is in the city's annual budgets.

Most of the funding comes when new construction occurs because the city, like other municipalities, requires money to be set aside for parks and trails, according to Schroeder.

Trail improvements are also made when a utility does repair or installation.

Trail maps are available at Cottage Grove City Hall, the Cottage Grove Ice Arena or at the city's website where it can be downloaded as a PDF.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600