Harmony Trail Expansion

Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail
An Extension of the Root River Trail System

Harmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail SystemHarmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail System

Linking Minnesota’s Root River State Trail with Iowa’s Trails

The Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail Extension provides the first step of the proposed Southeast Minnesota-Northeast Iowa Trail Loop, which will someday join together three existing trails into a 110-mile interstate trail system.

This extension establishes a 6-mile land corridor connecting the existing Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail south from Harmony to the Iowa border, and will eventually connect Minnesota’s Root River State Trail system to the Cresco and Decorah trail systems.

A comprehensive interstate trail system spanning the Root River and the Upper Iowa River watersheds will be initiated by this extension.

The Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail now connects Harmony to the Root River Trail System with over 60 miles of recreational trail for biking, walking, cross-country skiing, bird and nature watching and inline skating.

Iowa has also made great progress in expanding their trail networks.

The Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail is a 20-mile paved trail that stretches from Cresco to Calmar. The Prairie Springs Recreational Trail connects Prairie’s Edge Nature Center to Cresco with an additional 5-mile prairie grass and flower lined path traveling through rolling farmlands and shaded woodlands. These trail groups enthusiastically support the extension project and have begun aligning Iowa Landowners with the proposed Minnesota corridor.

Decorah’s 11-mile Trout Run Trail encircles the city of Decorah by skirting Decorah’s downtown and following the Upper Iowa River and Trout Run Creek, which travel through picturesque farmland and limestone bluffs.

Photos by Sharen Storhoff, Prairie Daisy Photography and Niagara Cave

Harmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail System

Harmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail System

BACKGROUND
Minnesota’s scenic southeastern Bluff Country contains some of the most spectacular scenery and dramatic terrain our state has to offer. The area’s rich history and abundant natural resources serve as a magnet for tourists and recreationists from across the state and nation. Recent documentaries, including the Emmy award-winning “Mysteries of the Driftless”, feature our Driftless region and are bringing renewed focus on our unique karst geography and highdiversity biology, making our region a vacation destination. Expanding trail use opportunities will bring Iowa trail users to Minnesota’s trails, and increase the draw for visitors to this region.

HISTORY
Harmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail SystemRecognizing the area’s tourism and recreation potential, the Governor’s Design Team in 1989 recommended to the city of Harmony that a trail be connected to the nearby Root River State Trail. The city established the Harmony Trails Commission to develop a recreational trail system, connecting Harmony with other area trail systems. One of the commission’s unmet goals was to bring a trail extension to nearby Niagara Cave, to provide a means for trail users to experience the cave and also encourage Iowa to connect their existing trails.

This trail connection will provide the first step for a comprehensive interstate trail system joining the Root River Valley and the Upper Iowa River Valley in our Driftless region. The MN Department of Natural Resources estimates this 6-mile Southeast MN Stateline Trail extension to cost $1.5 million.

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF TOURISM AND TRAVEL
The University of Minnesota 2008 bicycle trail survey indicated that nonmotorized trail users spend $2.7 billion annually and support 37,000 jobs. The Root River State Trail brings over $1 million yearly into trail communities.

According to the American Heart Association, “every $1 spent on bike trails and walking paths save an estimated $3 in health costs.”

The University of Northern Iowa Sustainable Tourism and Environmental Program (STEP) 2012 study cited the economic impact of recreational cyclists’ spending, which generated $364.8 million in direct and indirect impacts to the State of Iowa. The study indicated more than $21 million returned to the state via state sales tax generation—providing a solid return on investment in trails.

Contact: Vicky Tribon, Chair
Harmony Trails Commission
P.O. Box 305
Harmony MN 55939
507-886-1970

Harmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail SystemHarmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail System

Harmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail SystemHarmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail System

Niagara Cave is one of the most fascinating and distinctive geological attractions in the U.S. It is Fillmore County’s premier tourist attraction, and is a candidate for designation as a National Natural Landmark, recognizing and encouraging the conservation of outstanding biological and geological resources. Niagara Cave features a 60-foot waterfall, stalactites, stalagmites and ancient fossils over 400 million years old. Over 25,000 visitors a year make their way to this destination five miles from Harmony.

Harmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail System

Harmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail SystemMEETING INCREASED RECREATIONAL DEMANDS
The Root River State Trail continues to show considerable growth in the number of recreationists enjoying the trail. Data shows the Root River Trail to be predominately a destination-oriented recreation facility. Minnesota Parks and Trails Council’s 2015-trail user survey estimate 1.8 million trail users statewide for April through October with the Preston trailhead location accounting for a 86,000 user estimate.

Harmony, Minnesota - Southeast Minnesota Stateline Trail - An extension of the Root River Trail System