The Lehigh Portland Trails are built on the site of a former cement plant and quarry, along the banks of Elm Creek in Iola, Kansas. The trails consist of approximately 2.25 miles of wide gravel trails and 5.5+ miles of natural-surface trails for mountain biking, trail running, and nature hikes.

The Lehigh Portland Trails have been built by volunteers with Thrive Allen County, via a June 2014 Healthy Living grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, on land owned by Iola Industries, Inc. through an easement granted to the Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc. The trail’s name pays homage to Allen County’s industrial past and specifically to the Lehigh Portland Cement Company, which purchased the Iola Portland Cement Company in 1917 and operated a major plant in Iola until 1970.

This new trail system includes walking and biking trails similar to the Prairie Spirit Trail and the Southwind Rail Trail, but also includes mountain bike trails and related amenities that are rare in this part of Kansas. The new trail system is free and open to the general public year round.

The trail begins next to Elm Creek Park South on South Washington Avenue and travels east along the south side of Elm Creek to the north side of the quarry lake. From there it will continue eastward and connect to 1600 Street (South Kentucky). The “backbone” trail is approximately 11 feet wide and constructed of a crushed limestone surface; this portion is the main trail for walkers and cyclists. Mountain bike trails are built adjacent to the backbone trail and are primarily dirt trails. Steep hills, mature trees and ravines make this an excellent location for mountain bike trails in particular.

Volunteers are essential in the development and maintenance of the trail. For more information about Thrive‘s efforts or to learn how you can volunteer or participate, please contact Damaris Kunkler, Thrive’s Program Director, at (620) 365-8128 or damaris.kunkler@thriveallencounty.org.

 

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