For the City Times
The Green Circle Trail turns 20 in June. The community is invited to mark the anniversary during Walk Wisconsin Sat., June 4.
The Green Circle Trail consistently ranks near the top of reasons people love to live and play in central Wisconsin.
On Saturday, stop by Pfiffner Pioneer Park – the “zero mile” mark for the trail – to learn more about the Green Circle, its history and to have some fun. A photo booth will be available with recreational props. Displays, trail maps and other giveaways will be on hand.
Walk Wisconsin, a noncompetitive walk, is the one community event held annually that follows the entire 26-mile Green Circle. Full, half and quarter-marathon options are available. Register online by May 30 at www.activeportagecounty.com .
Watch for Green Circle trivia along the Walk Wisconsin route. Keep track of how many answers you guess correctly, and collect a Green Circle Trail gift at the end of the walk.
Even those who don’t participate in Walk Wisconsin can celebrate the Green Circle’s anniversary throughout June. Visit the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GreenCircleTrail/, for 26 reasons to love the Green Circle. In June, tell why you love the trail and share a photo or video of your favorite part.
“The Green Circle Trail is a community treasure, with more than 200,000 visits each year. Join in celebrating its first 20 years, and keeping it one of the best trails in the Midwest,” said Nick Schultz, Green Circle Board president.
The idea for a circular trail system was conceived by John Jury, who served many years on the Stevens Point Parks and Recreation Commission.
In March 1989, several recently retired community members began discussing a “passive exercise trail.” They included Dan Trainer, former dean of the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point; Roy Menzel, public relations professional; George Rogers, editor of the Stevens Point Journal; and Jerry Ernst, director of Portage County Parks Department. They met nearly every Friday at Al’s Diner, along with Tom Schrader, Stevens Point parks director, new county parks director Gary Speckmann and many others through the years, Jury said. They envisioned, planned and developed a trail connecting parks and green spaces in Stevens Point, Park Ridge, town of Hull, Whiting and Plover.
With tireless commitment, these volunteers raised money, negotiated with landowners for use of their property and coordinated placement of the trail. Twenty-five residential and commercial property owners agreed to allow a nature trail to cross their land at no cost.
The trail initially cost $660,000 in 1996 to design and build. Funding came from many public and private sources, including area municipalities, state and federal grants and businesses and individuals.
The 22-mile Green Circle opened on June 1, 1996. More than 900 people turned out for the grand opening hike, and 80 walked the entire loop.
The trail is maintained by Portage County Parks staff, with assistance from Stevens Point Parks and Schmeeckle Reserve staff. Annual donations from individuals and businesses support trail construction and maintenance. For more information, visit www.greencircletrail.org.