Trails

The King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks opened a new trailhead and officially closed the chapter on a nearly three-year effort to turn a former campground and potential logging site into a park.

The Trust for Public Land is working in partnership with state agencies and maple syrup producers to protect the Big Six Forest, among the largest sources of maple syrup in the United States, with a 23,000-acre conservation easement.

The 606 Park and Trail opened to cyclists, runners, and pedestrians Saturday morning. Hundreds of bicyclists took the inaugural ride along the new North Side trail, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Some people who worked toward the long-awaited opening of the Bloomingdale Trail died before it happened. And many who will enjoy the trail have been born since the project began inching forward more than a decade ago.

If you’ve seen New York City’s celebrated High Line, you might expect Chicago’s long-awaited 606 (and its elevated portion, the Bloomingdale Trail) to look similar. After all, they’re both elevated rail beds converted into green pathways. But while the High Line allows only walkers, the 606 welcomes cyclists, runners, and leashed dogs too.

Outdoor Chattanooga, the outdoor-recreation arm of the city government, estimates there are 150 miles of hiking trails within 15 miles of town, and that’s not counting the urban greenways, which add 100 more.

The Trust for Public Land is currently working in partnership with the town of Milan and the Northern Forest Center to join newly conserved property with existing publicly owned land to create a community forest that will support sustainable timber harvesting and protect habitat and recreation lands.

Residents of the eastern Vermont town of West Windsor are looking to bring back the former Ascutney Mountain Resort. The ski area went bankrupt and shuttered in the summer of 2010, but it could be turned into a community recreation area if the town can raise the $900,000 necessary to buy the property from its current owner, MFW Associates, according to Vermont Public Radio.

A bankrupt ski resort in West Windsor could become a year-round haven for outdoor sports. But first the town, with support from a land trust, has to raise enough money to buy a big chunk of the land.

The 606, which takes its name from Chicago's ZIP code prefix and whose centerpiece is a 2.7-mile recreational and cultural trail, is a bold and potentially brilliant reinvention of a dormant and derelict elevated freight line that blighted Northwest Side neighborhoods such as Bucktown and Logan Square.

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