Luce Line State Trail in transition
The Luce Line State Trail follows the corridor of a former railroad line and has been maintained by the DNR since 1976. It runs 63 miles, from the western metro suburb of Plymouth to the small town of Cosmos in west-central Minnesota.
From Plymouth to Winsted, the surface is crushed limestone, with a parallel trail for horseback riding.
West of Winsted, the trail is primarily gravel, although it has a mowed-grass surface from Cedar Mills to Cosmos.
In Hutchinson, a nearly 3-mile section of the trail is paved.
It crosses the southern end of Winsted, with the only break in the entire trail being a gap caused by Winsted city development. Because of the separation, there are two entry/exit points in town, one on the east side and one on the west side.
Efforts are being made by the city to entice visitors to the lakefront promenade, parks, and the downtown areas of Winsted from those Luce Line entry points.
Where the trail enters Winsted by Southview Park on the east, new signage was added in 2010, titled “Winsted Byway.” The signs can be found throughout town along the trail, and they direct visitors north to Mill Reserve Park and the lakefront promenade. Plans are being considered to create a plaza entry in this area, as well, to provide trail users with seating and landscaping to make it more inviting.
A paved city trail along the north side of Main Avenue, where pedestrians previously had to use the street, was completed in 2010. Although the path doesn’t connect the gap in the trail, it’s one of the city’s efforts to provide a safe walkway through town for trail users.
The Luce Line Trail entry on the west side of Winsted is south of the Cenex Winsted Farmer’s Co-op, on the west side of McLeod County Road 1.
The trail has received significant financial backing from the cities of Winsted, Silver Lake, and Hutchinson.
In December 2012, the Winsted City Council approved contributing $100,000 for the trail using excess bond funds.
Council and community members also voiced their support, stating that the paving the trail will not only provide recreational value, but also bring business to the area.
The estimated cost to complete 23 miles of the Luce Line (from Winsted to Hutchinson) is $3.5 million. Hutchinson is committing $750,000, and McLeod County is contributing $500,000. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agreed to an initial contribution of $500,000 in 2013, and plans to make the Luce Line a top funding priority for 2014.
By funding just over half of the project with local and state resources, the trail is more likely to receive state bonding funds for the remaining $1.6 million, according to supporters.
The DNR expects to complete 23 miles of base preparation work along the trail in 2014.
Paving the western part of the Luce Line State Trail from Winsted to Cedar Mills has been in the DNR’s master plan recommendations since 1997.
Once it is completed, the trail will be available for multiple uses, such as hiking, biking, inline skating, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling. A parallel horse trail will also be included.