A new trail head at the Champaign Family YMCA in Urbana for the Simon Kenton Trail was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event was held on Saturday, April 22, which was Celebrate Trails Day.
Nolan Conley, the wellness coordinator at the YMCA and Beth McCain, the office manager of the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) are part of Leadership Champaign County through the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce. In this class they were tasked with enhancing the community through a project.
McCain and Conley partnered with the Simon Kenton Pathfinders and the YMCA to establish an official trailhead at the bike path at the YMCA. It was a perfect location for a trail head since the YMCA already had the shelter house and the bike trail nearby.
McCain explained, “From the very beginning the shelter house at the YMCA was supposed to be a trail head, so to complete our project we had to decide what the immediate needs would be for anyone stopping there. As a result, we added a bike repair station, signage directing people and giving them mileage. The trail head had picnic tables, restrooms, parking, and the shelter already completed. In the future, we will install a water fountain, additional signage, maps, and information available about the Simon Kenton Trail.”
Jim Cook, president of Simon Kenton Pathfinders which manages just over 27 miles of bike trail, said, “I am excited about the creation of the trailhead and the ribbon-cutting here at the YMCA.” He explained, “Twenty-six years ago, the 17 founding members of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders came together as a community and wanted a bike trail and here we are today with a trail which connects to the Miami Valley Regional Trails, about 500 miles of interconnected trails in Southwest Ohio which we are a part of.”
He added, “The 27 miles covers bike trail from County Line Road south of Urbana to Carter Avenue in Bellefontaine, and that includes the 3.4-mile spur from the main trail from The Depot (on Miami Street) out to the YMCA in Urbana.”
According to Simon Kenton Pathfinders volunteer Ward Lutz, the trails are popular. He oversees the trail monitoring system, which is eight counters that track how many people use the trail. He said, “Our trail is used by thousands each year. We use infrared monitors and one is located at the point where the bike trail crosses Champaign County into Clark County where over 50 people visit per day on average over the entire year.”
The trails are popular with cyclists, adult walkers, families, dog walkers and bicycle campers.
Conley came up with the idea to complete the trail head for the leadership class project because she enjoys hiking, biking, and geocaching on the trails.
One of her favorite sayings is, “The more I move, the more I am moved. I love being on these trails. My kids enjoy them too. I also love this YMCA. My entire fitness journey started here. I have raised my kids here. My biggest supporters are here. My passions and my career simultaneously lie right here.”
She added, “Beth and I worked hard to make Urbana just a little more beautiful than what it was before and we will continue to be of service to this trail head, to our community, and for the future. We are grateful for the donations from the Simon Kenton Pathfinders, YMCA, Streamline Design and Print, and The Spotted Cow. They made this possible.”
Reach the writer at UDCeditor@aimmediamidwest.com.