Visions and Plans

Heartland Pathways: Visions and Plans

Heartland Pathways operates as a non-profit corporation. Because it charges visitors no fees, it exists only through the voluntary contributions of time and money of generous supporters who appreciate its values and support its goals.

As resources permit, Heartland Pathways hopes to refine and carry out major projects to improve the trail and enhance its many benefits. Among the more important projects that will absorb resources in the near future are:

  • The development of the trail from Clinton Lake/Lane to Weldon Springs. As discussed above, this scenic section offers wonderful potential. Heartland Pathways hopes to work with the state Department of Conservation and local groups to help make this vision a reality.
  • Shady Rest, a 28 acre bottom-land forest, has been transfered to the Piatt County Forest Preserve with the death of Mrs. Frances Price, a wonderful friend and supporter, who previously owner the site. Her rural retreat, bisected by Heartland Pathways and the Sangamon River, offers splendid opportunities for trail visitors to leave the trail and picnic under the trees. Shady Rest could also serve as a stopping point for a train line, if the Railway Museum develops funding to extend the line beyond White Heath.
  • Additional work on the trail itself. Many sections of the trail are difficult to hike, and hazardous for biking, because the trail itself is in poor condition. The long-run aim is to add chipped limestone to the trail, making it accessible to all users in all weather. Bridges need additional work. Erosion and poor drainage remain problems in several places. Progress has been made, but much work remains.
  • The development of more sections of what could become a 22-mile rail/trail loop northeast of Monticello. A circular route could offer many attractions, including possibilities for scenic hiking and biking outings. Such a route could also provide an appealing opportunity for backpacking, with a camping spot along the way. From Monticello the proposed 22-mile route would extend along or near the existing Railway Museum corridor to White Heath, then turn northwest to Shady Rest and across the Sangamon to Lodge, then head southward by Buck's Pond and through Lodge Park back to Monticello. As plans develop, this entire loop could become the route for a train outing, perhaps with a restaurant train car adding to the appeal.
  • At several places, land adjacent to Heartland Pathways, which is not used for agricultural purposes, offers excellent possibilities for widening the corridor and expanding the natural habitat. Heartland Pathways hopes to continue discussions with owners of these lands to explore the possible ways to convert this land to conservation uses.
  • Because the costs of developing and maintaining parts of the trail are high, Heartland Pathways aims to find governmental bodies that are willing to shoulder some of this burden, so long as their management guidelines are consistent with the long-term aims of Heartland Pathways and area communities. A first step in this direction will soon occur with the long-term leasing of a section of the trail to the City of Monticello.

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