New trail opens after Fern Trail closure

If you have hiked along Fern Trail this year, you may have noticed water encompassing portions of the trail, making it hard for guests to hike. Many trails typically experience this during the spring. When water sits in a section of trail for a period of time, “social trails” form; compacting soil and plants outside of the wet area and causing the trail to become wider. Park staff and volunteers try to prevent a large amount of “social trails” from forming.

Over the past several years, beaver activity near Fern Trail has been increasing. Due to heavy beaver activity, changes to a section of Lakeside Trail have been made. Over the past three years rain showers have become heavier, causing portions of Fern Trail to erode and ultimately be closed to the public. With these problems along the trail, park staff looked into ways to correct the issues. Park staff looked into re-routing portions of Fern Trail, however, sensitive plants were found in the re-route areas along with sensitive aquatic wildlife. Due to the sandy soil Fern Trail is made out of and the sensitive plants and aquatic life found in the area, the park has decided to close the trail and allow nature to reclaim it. The park is a nature preserve and strives to provide all plants and animals a place to live. These particular plants and animals need a specific environment in order to live. They are not as adaptable as other plants and animals that live within the park. It is our duty to protect these sensitive places within the park for future generations to enjoy.

“Fern Trail was a very unique trail and a favorite for many visitors,” said Megan Krager, park manager. “It allowed hikers to view a variety of ferns in one location not found anywhere else in the park. As humans, we have to work together to protect all living organisms at the park, whether they are big or small.”

The trail crew has created a short trail to provide access to Lake Road from Lakeside Trail. You can access the trail by crossing the wooden bridge to the left of the former Fern Trail and Lakeside Trail intersection and walking approximately 50 feet up Lakeside trail; the new trail will be to the right. The new trail will be named Barred Owl Trail. The current physical park maps do not reflect the new trail. Park staff will have the electronic map with the new trail uploaded on the park’s website by July 23, 2022.