Allen County Trail Network Expands

ByShannon J. Cortes

May 12, 2022

IOLA, Kan.– There is good news for outdoor lovers, bike and walking paths in southeastern Kansas are expanding.

Last week, Thrive Allen County celebrated the new trail at Allen Community College.

“It encompasses over 60 miles of trails and routes that we now have here in Allen County,” said Lisse Regehr, president and CEO of Thrive Allen County. “AAnd so that students here can be better connected within our community, we’re really excited to be able to do that.

Today, the Allen County Trail System connects students and staff to more than sixty miles of trails.

John Masterson, president of Allen Community College, said he hoped it would help students gain access to healthier lifestyles and could go hand-in-hand with their bike-sharing program.

“The bike share program has been fantastic. For our students who don’t have a car… make good use of it, not just for recreation, but to go to Walmart, downtown, shopping. But it’s just fun doing things for our community and opening up our college and bringing people here,” he said.

John Lahey, bike and trails coordinator for Thrive, said that the trails will stretch from Iola to Fort Scott and Pittsburgh by September and will be called the “Prarie Pathways.”

Lahey added that this expansion could help bridge the gaps between communities in southeastern Kansas, which are scattered.

“Our goal is to increase accessibility for anyone who wants access to recreation or transportation. We find that especially here there are a lot of recreational users and on Prairie Spirit and South Wind we have a lot of transportation users going to and from businesses.

People use these trails for a variety of reasons, but the most important goal Thrive Allen County has for them is to improve the health of the community.

“So we’ve really seen a wide variety of reasons people use the trails and how much they’ve helped improve the health of our community,” Regehr said.

Building on the idea of ​​health, the next trail will run through the local hospital, which patients and staff can use as they wish.

“We are currently building a pathway just north of here at the hospital, and this will also include a healing garden. And so we’re really excited because we know we’ll be able to both help the patients who are in the hospital, but also the community members who like to have lunch there and then can walk the trail and be in better health that way,” said Regehr.

All trails are free and open to the public.

For a list of Allen County trails, click here.