New trails to connect with HOL trail

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

What was once referred to as the Pelican Rapids to Perham Recreational Trail is now the Heart of the Lakes Regional Trail.

There will be connections from the main trail to Dent and Vergas. On Tuesday, March 28, the county board of commissioners voted to pursue a state grant application for these connections.

The application was outlined to the five-person county board by Otter Tail County Parks and Trails Director Kevin Fellbaum.

The plan includes construction of a widened 4-foot bituminous shoulder trail on 2.9 miles of Highway 35 from the City of Dent north to the Heart of the Lakes Regional Trail at the intersection of Highway 34 and a widened 6-foot bituminous shoulder trail on 3.7 miles of Highway 35 from the trail at the intersection of 440th Street north to the City of Vergas. 

The side trails have support from city leaders in both Dent and Vergas.

“Another section of the 32-mile-long trail remains to built,” Fellbaum said. “This segment is 4.2-miles through Maplewood State Park. Construction will hopefully take place in the spring or summer of 2024.”

In February the county board passed a resolution in support of a grant application and agreement with the state of Minnesota for construction of the bituminous trail through Maplewood State Park.

“We’re hoping to know about funding and have it available by July 2023,” says Fellbaum. “Once funding is in hand, we would look to go out to bid this coming fall.”

Fellbaum said that four of the five major trail segments are built: the Pelican Rapids segment, Silent Lake segment, McDonald Lake Segment and Perham Segment.

Much of the $14.2 million needed for construction of the 10-foot-wide trail came from the state of Minnesota. Included is money from the State Legacy Fund.

Otter Tail County governmental employees, in previous months, were busy with easements, right of way talks, environmental meetings and other hurdles that needed to be met before the Heart of the Lakes Regional Trail could become a reality.

Public input meetings were held in previous months. The county board, which experienced some opposition to the trail, also had support for the trail from the cities of Pelican Rapids and Perham as well as organizations such as West Central Initiative and PartnerSHIP4Health.