Proposed trail will connect Praeri Rail Trail with Dakins Lake

Sarina RhinehartSpecial to the

Story County Conservation is proposing a 1.75 mile extension of the Praeri Rail Trail, which would pass through Zearing and connect with the Dakins Lake trail.

The Praeri Rail Trail is a 10.5 mile recreational trail that runs from Roland through McCallsburg to Highway 65, just west of Zearing.

Carol Williams, special projects ranger with Story County Conservation, said there are currently no trails through Zearing. The nearly two miles of trail at Dakins Lake were part of the major expansion and renovations of the park that was completed this spring, which expanded the area from 40 to 103 acres, including new campsites, picnic shelter, shower house and boat ramp.

“In general, the community is very supportive,” Williams said of the project.

Story County Conservation hosted an information open house about the project a couple weeks ago, which was attended by 15 community members. Williams said the Zearing community was enthusiastic about the expansion of Dakins Lake, and she sees this trail extension as an expansion of that project.

While project planning and preliminary designs are in progress, Williams said this extension will be hard-surfaced. Currently, sections of the Praeri Rail Trail are limestone surface and the remainder is mowed grass. Williams said they are considering paving the entire trail, but no decisions have been made on that yet because of the native prairie remnants adjacent to the trail.

“We want to be cautious with any changes we make,” Williams said.

Moving forward, Williams said the plan is to finish the engineering and finalize total expenses of the project before raising funds. The project will likely be funded through a collection of sources, including grants and capital improvement funding.