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Walk and roll . . . Friends Kiah Bauer, left, and Katie King test their
rollerblading skills on Kenmare's Scenic Walking Trail. For Bauer,
this visit marked her second time on both the trail and wearing
rollerblades. King, who walks the trail often since returning
home from college, convinced Bauer the pavement's smooth
surface would be the best place to practice rolling along.
By Caroline Downs
Kenmare’s newest recreational feature will be dedicated Saturday, June 16th, following the walk/run held on its surface.
The Kenmare Scenic Trail was a longtime dream among several community members that became a reality last fall when Phase “Zero” of the trail was completed. The nearly one mile loop encircles the Kenmare High School property and city ball diamonds, and offers a 8-foot wide concrete path for walking, jogging, rollerblading or other activities.
Built at a cost of $155,000, donors to the project include Kenmare Veteran’s Club, Fund-Itt, Kenmare Community Development Corporation, Kenmare Park Board, Kenmare Recreation Board and the Kenmare School District. “Saturday’s dedication will be a way of recognizing the groups that helped fund that phase,” said Scenic Trail Committee member Fay Froseth.
The event will take place after the 5K Family Walk and Fun Run scheduled to begin at 10 am, with registration at the high school. There are no entry fees for the 5K, but freewill donations will be accepted to benefit the Kenmare Theatre digital projector fund-raiser. Participants in the 5K can celebrate the dedication of the new trail and collect their awards from the Fun Run.
Original plans for the trail called for asphalt paving, but during construction Preston Sandberg of Sandberg Redi-Mix approached the trail committee with the idea of using concrete instead. Bids for the concrete were similar to asphalt, and the local company got the job.
“They did a lot of work on weekends and at night,” said Froseth. “Luckily, we had a nice fall and by the first week of November, the trail was ready for public use.”
Since its completion, the new trail has been gaining popularity with walkers and runners of all ages. “It’s a safe place for people to walk,” said Froseth. “People can use it for biking, rollerblading, even skateboarding if they’re careful.”
She emphasized anyone using the trail should be courteous of other people who exercise there. Dogs are allowed on the trail, if they’re on a leash, and all persons using the trail are reminded to pick up any trash they may have.
“The school kids cleaned it up really well on the Citywide Clean-up Day,” said Froseth, adding that the school also conducted a walk-a-thon on the trail to raise money for new playground equipment.
Along the trail
Two of the first local residents to begin using the trail last November were Al and Barb Scherbenske, educators retired from the Kenmare School District.
The couple doesn’t exercise together, though. Barb walks the trail three times weekly, meeting one or two other friends about 8 am for two or three laps around the loop.
Al waits to go on a solitary walk about an hour later, or in the early afternoon. “I’m only a one-lapper,” he said. He noted the excellent condition of the walkway.
“It’s wide enough for three of us to walk and meet people,” said Barb Scherbenske. “It’s definitely an addition to Kenmare. We don’t have sidewalks on a lot of the streets, so there is a safe place to walk. We see people using it at different times of the day.”
One of the walkers Barb and her friends often meet is Joan Larson, another former Kenmare teacher who has been walking almost daily since she retired in 1997. “My blood pressure is always better when I get my walk in,” she said, “and I think I sleep better.”
As a dedicated walker except in icy conditions, Larson has noticed changes in local traffic patterns and the need for a safe walking path. “A lot of people walked on the old [high school] track before they tore it up,” she said.
Larson has walked the city’s streets and County Road 2 east of town, but she prefers the new Scenic Trail. “It’s really convenient and I don’t have to watch for traffic,” she said.
Her only complaint is that occasionally she has met unleashed dogs running ahead of their owners on the trail, which makes her uncomfortable. “But most people use leashes for their dogs,” she added.
Her routine includes one clockwise lap, then a counterclockwise lap which takes her between 30 and 35 minutes to complete. “I don’t time myself too much,” she said with a laugh.
Sue Boos, a newcomer to Kenmare last summer, started her daily walks as soon as the trail was finished, with 10 1/2-year-old golden retriever Gunner at her side on his leash.
“We walk the path sometimes twice a day,” Boos said. “I like it because there are not any other dogs coming out at us and there are no cars.”
The pair starts from the Boos’ home and makes one loop. “This is enough for him,” she said as her grizzled companion wagged his tail, waiting to continue. “I would go a couple times around on my own.”
For Gunner, the walks are the highlight of his days. “We go right after dinner and right after supper,” said Boos. “He just waits for the walk. He knows when it’s time.”
Current District 6 Representative and retired business owner Glen Froseth has his own specific walking trail routine. “One time a day, five days a week,” he said. “I go one time around it.”
Like other walkers, he appreciates the safe location of the trail away from traffic and the concrete surface. “You don’t have to worry about any cracks, puddles or holes in it,” he said.
He has also noticed he can adjust his walking direction to avoid facing the wind on most days. “There’s shelter from those trees on one side,” he said. “I choose the direction I’m going depending on which way the wind blows.”
Another retired business owner, Jerry Rasmusson, started using the trail about two months ago after walking at the Kenmare Memorial Hall through the winter. He and his late wife Artie used to walk around the community and out to the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge on a regular basis. Now, he challenges himself on this trail to make two laps within about 32 minutes.
“It depends on the weather, but I usually walk about nine o’clock,” he said, “right after I have coffee at the Pizza Hub.”
Rasmusson, who is 80 years young, likes the relatively level surface. “If you go one way on the trail, you don’t have to go up a hill,” he said.
He noted he receives six or seven honks from vehicles passing by on U.S. Highway 52 most mornings, and he confessed that he only walks six days each week. “I take Sundays off and drive across the street to church,” he said, with a grin.
Some of Kenmare’s younger residents can be found on the trail, with Meghan Essler, 20, making two or three miles on two or three mornings each week.
She entered a half marathon with her mother, Sam Essler, in Deadwood, SD, during the weekend of June 2nd and 3rd, and is considering training to participate in a sprint triathlon in the Black Hills next summer. “This is nice,” she said. “Mom and I used to walk on the roads around here, which is hard with the trucks driving up and down. It’s nice to have a specific spot in town to get people to come out to walk.”
Katie King, 19, has used the trail extensively since coming home from college for the summer. “Sometimes I walk with my mom, sometimes with Lexie [Munson],” she said.
She enjoys having access to the trail, especially because after walking for years by herself, now her mother will join her. “I’ll ask her if she wants to go for a walk and she’ll say, ‘Yeah, let’s go up to the walking path,’” said King. “We’ll walk two miles here sometimes.”
King also convinced Kiah Bauer, 18, to join her on the trail for a rollerblading excursion, which proved to be Bauer’s second time on rollerblades and second time on the Kenmare Scenic Trail.
While Bauer struggled to maintain control of her footgear, she liked the trail and its surface. “This is the best place for a walk,” she said. “It gets people out and moving, and they have a good place to do it.”
Trail could be extended,
if funds were available
Given the popularity of the trail and the potential for additional walkways and loops, the trail committee would like to continue developing Kenmare’s trail system. “We have two phases we would really, really like to work into the plan,” said Froseth.
Phase I would extend the current trail north to South of the Border, then loop south along Central Avenue and east to Pioneer Village.
Phase II would connect the high school to the city’s swimming pool and Kenmare Elementary School.
The committee has one state grant totaling $170,000 for Phase I, along with a $10,000 grant from the St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation. “Both of those grants require matching funds,” Froseth said, “so we’re looking for possible individual donors.”
She acknowledged the community has been focused on quickly raising the $100,000 needed to upgrade the local theatre’s movie projector to a digital system. However, if an individual, business or organization would like to support the next phase of the Kenmare Scenic Trail, she will be happy to accept a contribution in any amount.
For more information about the Kenmare Scenic Trail or donating to the next construction phase, contact Froseth at 701-385-4502.
She invited everyone to enjoy the trail Saturday morning. “Come and walk,” she said. “It’s for fun, it’s for supporting our theatre, and you’ll be using the walking path that was built for our community.”