Central Lakes Trail Association is the state trail’s very own “cheerleading team.” The Association is a group of community representatives from towns along the Central Lakes State Trail, and they promote the trail to bikers, locally as well as from across the region and country. The group operates as a partnership and focuses their efforts on outreach and advertising. They also host an annual ride on the trail to help build awareness of the biking amenities the trail and surrounding communities offer.
One area that the Association works on is way-finding. Each year, the Association prints about 10,000 trail maps, which they then distribute to bike shops across the state and make available on their website. Maps on their website include recommendations for local businesses, bike shops, and points of interest to explore when visiting the trail. Additionally, the group dedicates funds each year to a “Brown Sign Account,” which helps install signs that point people to the trail from the freeway or busy highways.
The website serves as a hub for all things Central Lakes Trail. It hosts a wealth of information for trail visitors, including:
- Maps (trailheads, towns, points of interest/businesses)
- History of the trail
- Trail events
- Videos and images
- Contact us form
A cool feature on their contact form allows trail riders to report a problem they encounter on a trail, such as a downed tree or pothole. That information is then shared with the DNR, who can address any safety issues.
Rail Trails 100
In 2018, the Central Lakes Trail Association hosted the first Rail Trails 100 bike ride, in partnership with the Lake Wobegon Trails Association. Bikers would have a chance to do a supported century ride, parking their cars at the finish and getting shuttled to the start of the ride (with their bikes). The ride’s appeal comes from the slightly downhill route and a number of rest stops along the way that are sponsored by communities along the trail. While this event doesn’t serve as a fundraiser, it does garner awareness for this unique resource for bikers—miles and miles of paved bike trails! In 2021, the Rail Trails 100 is in its third year. Depending on popularity, the event may grow in size in years to come.