Trail connects Pelican Rapids, Perham trails

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.

One section of the 32-mile-long trail remains to built, that being the 4.2-mile segment through Maplewood State Park. Construction will hopefully take place in the spring or summer of 2024.

  The county board of commissioners, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 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 Kevin Fellbaum, county parks and trails director. “Once funding is in hand, we would look to go out to bid this coming fall.”

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

“You could ride a bike from Pelican Rapids to the western edge of Maplewood State Park, You could also ride from Perham to the front entry of Maplewood State Park. The only portion left is this 4.2-mile segment through the park,” Fellbaum said,

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.

The five-person county board of commissioners is grateful to former State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and former State Rep. Bud Nornes for their support of the recreational trail project. The successor to Nornes, Jordan Rasmusson, before he became state senator, also was supportive of the Pelican Rapids to Perham trail, now known as the Heart of the Lakes Regional Trail.

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 Pelican Rapids to Perham 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.