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Minooka now part of nationwide trail system

By Scott Mims

Minooka Park’s dot on the map just got a little bigger.

The North Chilton County park’s trail system has been designated as a national recreation trail.

The 25 miles of ATV, dirt bike, hiking and horseback riding trails at Minooka were among 31 trails in 15 states to be added to the National Trails System, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced last week.

“Minooka Park will be included in several national publications on trails and will receive several markers to go on the trail system with that designation on it,” Park Manager Gerald Arrington said. “It’s just one more way to get Minooka Park’s name out there, and it’s an honor to be chosen.”

Some of Minooka’s trails are specifically designed and constructed for ATVs and off-road motorcycles. The dirt bike enthusiast looking for more technical trails can check out miles of single track. Horseback riders can choose from trails featuring beautiful views, creeks, and the opportunity to see wildlife.

Hikers have wooded nature trails and a 1-mile walking trail around the lake. The walking trail around the lake, along with five fishing piers and a large deck overlooking the lake, is handicap accessible.

With the designation, Minooka’s trail system joins a network of more than 1,000 previously designated trails that total more than 12,500 miles.

The announcement comes in anticipation of National Trails Day on June 5, when trail dedications and other activities will take place at new and existing trails.

“I hope that millions of Americans will take advantage of the opportunities provided by our national trails to embrace a fuller, healthier lifestyle,” Salazar said in a national press release.

Last month, President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to protect special places and to help Americans reconnect to the outdoors. More information on the initiative can be found at doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors.

Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative is promoting a healthier lifestyle for children by encouraging them to eat healthier foods and become more physically active.

The national recreation trail program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service in conjunction with a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the national recreation trails website at americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails.