All it needs is snow: WRHCF sponsors new winter recreation trail planned for Olson Park

WORTHINGTON -- Fans of winter recreation will soon have a new reason to enjoy Worthington. A trail to be utilized for activities such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing and fat tire biking is on the way at Worthington's Olson Park, thanks to th...

Worthington's Olson Park will soon feature a groomed trail for winter recreational activities such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing and fat-tire bicycling. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Fans of winter recreation will soon have a new reason to enjoy Worthington.

  A trail to be utilized for activities such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing and fat tire biking is on the way at Worthington’s Olson Park, thanks to the grassroots efforts of four community residents and a sponsorship from the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation. It’s expected that the trail will be available for use following the first significant snowfall of the season.

  Mike Woll, along with Bedford Industries employees Jay Milbrandt, Joe VonHoltum and Ryan DeJounge, have spearheaded the effort to create the trail.

  “Joe VonHoltum and I talking about biking and the desire to have more trails, and Joe and Jay Milbrandt and Ryan DeJounge had been talking about the availability of trails and specifically have an interest in winter biking and fat tire bikes,” Woll explained. “They have become quite a deal, and one of the advantages of them in Minnesota is that you’re able to ride them on the snow and through snow. They had some interest in that, and Jay's been thinking more and more about accessibility and trails and other things that can be done, including cross country.”

  “When Lisa (wife) and I lived in Minneapolis, several times a week we would visit different parks to try their cross country skiing trails,” Milbrandt added. “In the Twin Cities, it seems nearly every park and golf course grooms a winter trail. This fall, I was playing the disc golf course and remarked at how the city of Worthington has mowed beautiful trails connecting all of the disc golf holes. It struck me that we could capitalize on this during the winter.”


  A get-together between Woll, Milbrandt, DeJounge and VonHoltum followed, and it wasn’t long before the city of Worthington was on board.

  “Jay did a little bit of shopping around for a cross country groomer … and we did a little bit of talking with Todd Wietzema with the city (director of public works),” Woll said. “We asked if they would be willing to allow a trail in Olson Park … and if they would be willing to pull through the groomer. Once you get that packed down, that trail would work great for cross country skiing and also serve the dual purpose of being available for fat tire bikes.

  “Jay and I met with the (city) parks board and they were very enthusiastic,” Woll continued. “We figured the cost we needed to come up with was about $4,000 for the groomer and some signage. Bedford Industries offered $1,000, and MIke Woll Investment Office kicked in an extra $200. We then made a request to the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation.”

  “They just came and asked us for a sponsorship to help us complete the purchase of the groomer and some signage,” WRHCF Executive Director Jeff Rotert said. “We approved up to $3,000 for them to move that project forward, so hopefully that can get up and running this year.”

  “We thought this project seemed to fit with what they’re trying to accomplish,” Woll said of the foundation. “It opens up a whole new season for activities. My favorite part is that this is coming about from a grassroots request. it's not a top-down idea from the state, or a trend nationally; this is simply folks wanting to see this happen.”

  MIlbrandt noted that the goal is to create a three-mile loop around Olson Park that he anticipates as being perfect for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter walking and fat-tire biking. He said the groomer to be purchased -- which will be pulled behind a city-owned ATV -- will be portable, so other trails could be groomed if desired.

  “The wonderful thing about this trail is that it’s low-investment and requires no new infrastructure, yet we get a brand new city amenity to use all winter,” Milbrandt said.

  Now all that’s needed is some snow, which isn’t in the forecast until Tuesday at the earliest -- though it doesn’t appear that it will arrive with enough accumulation for use of what will likely be known as the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation Trail.


  “Todd Wietzema has been tremendous to work with in this process … and the foundation’s quick response and enthusiasm for supporting this should allow us to get going yet this winter,” Woll said. “It gives people, perhaps, a reason to look forward to snow.”

  “I know many people who have cross country skis in an attic,” Milbrandt added. “Hopefully this will be a reason to try them again, or simply get out to walk in the woods during the winter.”

  “The board really liked that this was bringing a healthy amenity to this community that hadn’t existed before, particularly in the wintertime,” Rotert said. “This town really wants to add amenities, and here's another thing we can put on our Chamber website and other places to promote Worthington.”

Related Topics: HEALTH
Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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