On Saturday, September 7 at 10:15 a.m., the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association and the Hayward Area Memorial Hospital will jointly dedicate the completion and official opening of the new Gateway Bike Trail on the hospital property.
“It’s been a project three years in the making,” observes CAMBA executive director Ron Bergin. “We are thrilled to see it finally completed, and even more thrilled to see how warmly the project has been received.” As the term “gateway” suggests, the intent of the Hospital Trail has been to provide an easy, entry-level trail that would still appeal to riders of all ages and abilities. “We really feel that the Hospital Trail has hit the mark,” adds Bergin. On any day of the week riders from age 7 and under to age 70 and older – and all ages in between – can be seen enjoying themselves on the trail. And experienced riders enjoy the trail too, due to its fun, flowy character.
The completed trail is 5.5 miles long, but to ride every segment will require repeating a couple of legs that will result in a ride of over six miles. There are two trailhead access points: one near the main hospital/medical center parking lot and a new one on Olson Road. The trails nearest Olson Road are perhaps the easiest with a flatter loop, Lil’ Easy, that was built to include generous amounts of rollers and swooping features to inject fun and interest to the ride. “We’ve been fortunate to work with a very talented professional trail builder, Travis Bellman, who took on the challenge of turning a relatively flat and simple landscape into a truly special trail,” says Bergin.
“Most significantly,” emphasizes Bergin, “has been the work of volunteer Steve Morales who has been CAMBA’s lead on the project from the beginning.” While the need for an easy, entry-level trail had been identified several years ago and other sites considered, when things fell into place with Hayward Area Memorial Hospital, Morales stepped up and ran with the project, investing literally hundreds of hours of volunteer time to scout, design and layout the trails, and oversee construction. “We would not be where we are today without Steve’s dedication and tremendous amount of hard work,” praises Bergin.
Of equal significance has been the partnership with Hayward Area Memorial Hospital. Recognizing the need and the appropriate fit with its mission, the Hospital not only offered the wooded lands surrounding the hospital campus as the site for the trails, they also offered to fund 50% of the cost. “Without the financial support of Hayward Area Memorial Hospital, it would have taken several additional years to raise the necessary funds to build this important trail,” says Bergin.
Other key supporters providing financial and other support to the project include: Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education (SCOPE), Terrence J. Panian, Essentia Health, LP Foundation, Johnson Bank, Madison Community Foundation, Enbridge Energy, William B. Styer Family Foundation, John Bogdanske, Ziegler CAT, and Adam Bodenschatz.
“CAMBA is extremely grateful to Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and all of the other major supporters as well as the many individual and business donors,” Bergin notes.
The dedication of the trail on Saturday, September 7 will acknowledge all donors and volunteers and officially open the trail. The event takes place just before the Hayward Area Memorial Hospital Community Picnic, which everyone is also invited to attend. There will also be an informal tour for those who want to ride and explore the fun, flowing and scenic trails.