A long-awaited 3-mile, paved, multi-use trail has been completed at Sibley State Park. This scenic trail meanders through the prairie for a uniquely peaceful experience. Plus, its current endpoint— a tunnel under Hwy. 71—foreshadows an exciting next phase.
As it currently stands, the trail is entirely within the park. It takes users from the visitor center, past the beach, then through woodlands, and across the prairie, ending at a tunnel at the park’s southeast corner. The ribbon-cutting celebration is scheduled for this summer, but the public is invited to begin using the trail now.
The journey to constructing this trail began 11 years ago, with a vision put forward by the community to connect Sibley State Park with the nearby Glacial Lakes State Trail in the town of New London. While that full vision is yet to be realized, this new park trail marks the halfway point, with about 4 miles left to be constructed east of the tunnel. All the necessary land has been acquired and phase two is simply awaiting funding from the legislature.
In the meantime, this newest completed segment is well worth celebrating, as it is perhaps the most scenic portion of the trail and an incredible addition to the park experience.
Parks & Trails Council’s (P&TC) role in this project began in 2014 when it bought a 154-acre property for the park. This land, which was privately owned, was necessary for the tunnel placement, plus it added critical grassland to the park.
P&TC worked with volunteers from the Sibley State Park Improvement Association (SSPIA) who spent countless hours laboring to clean up the property. They removed tons of debris—literally—and numerous buildings. The restoration involved making prescribed burns and seeding the land with native plants.