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Dane County Executive Parisi Cuts Ribbon for Much-Anticipated Lower Yahara River Trail

August 28, 2017
Stephanie Miller 608-267-8823
County Executive

Trail Includes Longest Multi-Use Boardwalk in the State of Wisconsin


Yesterday, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi cut the ribbon for the first phase of the long-awaited Lower Yahara River Trail. The nearly 2.5-mile stretch of pathway is one of the most significant trail projects Dane County has ever embarked upon and features the longest multi-use boardwalk in the state of Wisconsin. With the trail complete, visitors can now catch picturesque views of Lake Waubesa while traveling between Lake Farm County Park, near the Capital City Bike Trail, and McDaniel Park in the Village of McFarland. Crowd size for the community reception’s ribbon cutting ceremony is estimated to be in the hundreds.


“From biking on the boardwalk, fishing at the pier, spotting wildlife on a hike, or simply taking in the shores of Lake Waubesa, the Lower Yahara River Trail offers countless opportunities to enjoy our beautiful outdoors,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said. “With the trail’s grand opening, this outdoor attraction and the community’s support in making it possible can now be appreciated for generations to come.”


The Lower Yahara River Trail runs alongside a railroad trestle with a mile of continuous bridges and boardwalks on the north shore of Lake Waubesa. An accessible fishing pier and two overlooks have also been built to heighten visitors’ overall experience. Given the trail’s unique features and connection to the Capital City Bike Trail, it is projected that the Lower Yahara River Trail will see around 150,000 visitors a year.


In total, the Lower Yahara River Trail project cost an estimated $8 million. Dane County dollars accounted for $3.7 million, and $4.3 million were given in federal funds.


Bridges to cross over Lake Waubesa and the Yahara River channel were installed in the summer and fall of 2016. Remaining boardwalk structures were then put in place over the winter season. During the final phase of construction, large rocks were placed near the shore of the trail to help prevent ice build-ups and structural damage. Dane County Parks staff also posted wayfinding signage to assist trail users with navigating to other destinations along the trail network.


Dane County Parks had been coordinating with bicycle stakeholders, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Company, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Village of McFarland, City of Madison, City of Monona, the Wisconsin Historical Society, GRAEF Engineers, KJohnson Engineers, the UW Milwaukee Cultural Resource Management Department, Ho-Chunk Nation, and the Army Corps of Engineers since 2008 to design the Lower Yahara River Trail.


Over the next several years, the county intends to work with communities along the Yahara River to extend the trail south to Viking County Park near the City of Stoughton. When completed, the Lower Yahara River Trail will be approximately 11 miles long. Dollars to pay for the design of the second segment of the trail are included in Parisi’s 2017 budget.