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Cape to Expand Cape LaCroix Trail

After a series of floods that sent water coursing through a local businesses, Cape Girardeau decided to tame the creeks that were causing all the trouble. One of the side benefits of that was the Cape LaCroix Recreational Trail, a 4.2-mile multi-purpose path created next to the creek.

I wrote back in 2008 how folks from out of town were coming to Cape to ride the trail and causing cash registers to ring. I speculated that it was the most-used non-spectator park in town. I’ve never been on it without meeting tens of bikers, roller bladers, joggers, walkers, families with stroller or people walking dogs. That might make it a little less desirable for hard-charging bike rider, but the town’s definitely getting its money’s worth out of the investment.

Thousands use it every nice weekend

A story in The Southeast Missourian announcing that the trail was going to be extended echoed that sentiment:

Suggest to Brock Davis that Cape La Croix Trail is well-used and he’ll chuckle.

“Well used? That’s not even close,” said Davis, Cape Girardeau’s parks division manager. “You will see people on that trail every single day, whether it’s raining, snowing or whatever. In nice weather, there are thousands of people that use it on a weekend.”

[Editor’s note: The Missourian story spells the name as Cape La Croix (with a space); a sign posted at the Kingsway Drive trailhead has LaCroix as one word, the way I’ve always seen it., so I’m going to stay with that spelling.]

North end extended this fall

When I was in Cape this fall, I noticed new construction on the north end of the trail. I followed it and found it that about two miles of trail had been added north of the Kingsway Drive / Lexington Ave. trailhead. It took it all the way to the North County Park Conservation Center Nature Trail. There, unfortunately, was a sign banning dogs, bicycles and roller bladers on the unpaved walkway.

You can get a feel for what the path looks like on my CapeCentralHigh blog.

Final paving done

When I was there, one segment under a bridge needed to be paved. My mother shot this photo Dec. 12 showing the whole trail is now  passable.

The neat thing about this is that it ties in a whole new subdivision under construction. It’s not the mileage that’s so important, it’s the fact that it becomes a viable transportation link for a whole bunch of people who will now have an option other than blowing dead dinosaurs out their tailpipes.

New projects stress getting from A to B

I’m excited about the 2,100 feet of new trail that The Missourian mentions in the Dec. 28 story because it shows a shift in thinking from building “bike trails” for recreational uses to building alternative ways to move around the city.

“The project would have two segments to improve the connections between the area along West End Boulevard near the Shawnee Sports Complex and the rest of the city, said Ken Eftink, assistant city manager and director of development services.

It’s not the length of the new trails that will matter, Eftink said, but where it will be located.

The main segment of new 8-foot-wide trail would run along West End Boulevard from Linden Street and extend south to snake through the soccer fields and connect with the pedestrian bridge where the trail currently ends, Eftink said. The second segment will be the connection from the trail to Shawnee Park ball fields near the Southeast Missouri Hospital pavilion, he said.

“The focus of the enhancement grant is really get people from point A to point B,” Eftink said. “Our overall goal is to provide a loop of the city. The trail opens up access to Arena Park, the Aquatics Center, Osage Centre and now up to North County Park,” Eftink said.

Cape has lots of hills

Cape has a rolling terrain with lots of short, steep hills. The bike trail makes it possible for me to go from my mother’s house on the northwest end of the city all the way to the south part of town without having to fight traffic nor constantly climb hills. I can pop out along the way to easily make it downtown for a ride along the Mississippi River or go down to see Civil War Fort D.

I ride the trail when I’m in town not so much for recreation as I do for a convenient way to move around. I’m glad the city is thinking in those terms. It’s a lot easier to justify a transportation link in these days of tight budgets than a recreational trail.

6 comments to Cape to Expand Cape LaCroix Trail

  • Couldn’t agree more — it’s great to see the city coming around to the idea of bicycling as a means of transportation, rather than solely a form of exercise or recreation. The “share the road” signs around town are nice too, though I’m not sure yet whether drivers take them to heart.

    • I see the Share the Road signs as just another piece of visual noise. Too many motorists read that as “Bikes should share the road by getting the bleep out of my way.”

      They don’t have a photo of an 18-wheeler on the Share the Road Sign, because it’s assumed that they have a place on the road. By ASKING motorists to share the road, the implication is that they’re doing us a favor.

      How about “Allow Min 3-Feet to Pass” or “Yield to slower vehicles” or “Hang up Your Cellphone and Drive?”

  • Hi Ken,

    I am curious to know if there is digital/electronic map of the trail and if it would be suited to bicycle tourists. By that I mean is it gated or otherwise constrained at the ends to make travel with a panniered bike challenging? Are services (grocery, restaurants, etc.) easy to get to from it?

    Our Great Rivers Route travels through Cape Giraradeau so I am always especially interested when you speak of your hometown. To get through town, we currently route on Mt. Auburn Rd., Independence St., Lorimer St., Morgan Oak St. and Fountain St. to State Hwy. 74 where we cross the Mississippi.

    Thanks in advance,
    .Jenn.

    • I’ll send you a GPS track in email. The trail is not gated. Services are easy to get to from it, in fact, Cape Bicycle’s parking lot is adjacent to the trail. They’re good folks who have gotten me going when I’ve been in town and had trouble.

      Mt. Auburn is a heavily-traveled four-lane road with lots of steep hills. That’s one of the best things about the bike trail. It lets me get from one end of town to the other without going on Mr. Auburn or Hwy 61.

      After we’ve exchanged some info, I have another route suggestion for anyone who wants to avoid the narrow, twisting hilly road near New Hamburg on the MRT.

  • Ken,
    I see you keep a bike in the Cape, and use it. The trail looks nice; we’ll know to avoid it on the week-end!

    We’ll enjoy riding with you. We have mountain bikes as well as skinny tire bikes. We’d like to take a long ride outside of town too. Thinking about riding in the Mark Twain NF on the way if we can find some quiet roads.

    • I haul the bike up with me, but I am embarrassed to tell you how many miles I’ve ridden since a car and I tried to occupy the same space in February.

      The ride between Cape and Altenburg is one of my favorite MO rides: it has nice rolling hills, pretty countryside and (mostly) friendly drivers. The local paper is full of people complaining about bikes on the road, but once you get out of the city, it’s never been a problem for me.

      Here’s a rough idea what the route looks like.

      I have to see the folks at the Altenburg Museum about a show I’m putting on, and I want to show you some of that area anyway. You can check out the road when we drive up and decide if it’s one you want to go on. I laid out a century route using that as the first half, if you’re even more ambitious.

      The last half has a bunch of “whoooopeeeee, oh BLEEP!” hills and valleys where you’re constantly going over ridges and down into creek beds, only to have to climb back out again.

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