Students construct new trails in Ladysmith, Wis.
While not particularly remarkable in terms of length or demanding terrain, the new multi-use trails built this spring in the northwest Wisconsin town of Ladysmith are awesome nonetheless. Why? Simply because of who built them and where they are located.
Ladysmith High School features a beautifully wooded campus situated on the northeastern edge of town along U.S. Highway 8. Located on the school campus is a 1.6K lighted ski loop maintained by the Ladysmith Area Trail Association, and a log cabin warming shelter/outdoor classroom built by high students enrolled in the residential building class. As if that were not enough, the school is adjacent to Greenwood Park, a heavily wooded 40-acre city park featuring towering hemlock, a nice little stream and hiking trails.
Realizing a chance to link these trails together, students at Ladysmith High School, with my help as their science teacher, applied for and were awarded a $500 Rusk County Community Foundation Grant to build additional trails on school grounds.
The stated purpose of these new multiuse trails is to 1) link the existing ski trails and warming shelter to Greenwood Park Trails, thereby creating an expanded loop of trails, and 2) to create several short singletrack side trails which students could use for mountain biking.
Pretty amazing right? But wait, the "who" is even more remarkable. The trails were built by teams of middle and high school students during their spring community clean-up/environmental action day. Students identified the best route for the new trails, cleared brush and a few small stumps, and raked in the new dirt base trail. Most of the trail is flat and wide and will allow for easy walking and biking. During the winter, the main trail will be groomed for classic Nordic skiing. The singletrack, although not at all technical, is tight and twisty and will help members of the Ladysmith High School's Trips for Kids chapter develop their bike handling skills literally minutes after getting on their bikes.
As an advisor, I have to admit it is really a neat project. This trail will be a fantastic four-season asset for our community and will greatly benefit our Trips for Kids Ladysmith chapter. In addition, students have learned that trails don't just happen by accident and they need to be active stewards by maintaining the trails they built this spring.
Matt Bunton is a science teacher at Ladysmith High School and advisor for Trips for Kids Ladysmith.
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