Nichols begins revival of Hoover Trail

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
During a special meeting in Nichols city hall, Sept. 12, Mayor Cyle Geertz expressed interest in restoring the Nichols section of the Hoover Nature Trail.

The trail has fallen into disrepair over the last decade. Few community members actually use the path because it's overgrown and unmaintained.

"The trail itself hasn't been used in a long time, weeds and grass have grown up all around it," said Geertz. "We would like to have management rights to the trail so we can do more, like adding picnic tables and rest stops."

The entire trail was envisioned to run over a hundred miles from Cedar Rapids to Burlington by Hoover Nature Trail Inc. However, funding eventually ran out and pieces of the trail were redistributed throughout Iowa.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) now owns the Nichols section of the trail as well as other pieces of it. It's attempting to garner interest from all over Iowa to refurbish the entire path.

"We want local involvement with it because we don't have the capacity to deal with it all," said INHF member Lisa Hein before the meeting. "Before we worked to keep the trail from being lost entirely, now our goal is to develop a friends group to revive it."

Even though the Nichols section has laid dormant for nearly 15 years, interest in reviving it is beginning to rise in the area.

Mayor Geertz, along with Jamie Kirk and other members of the Nichols Betterment Committee, have already done some work to the trail. They've flattened out much if its gravel foundation and removed weeds from the seven mile stretch.

The portion they hope to upgrade starts three miles north of Nichols, stops right before town, then picks up again for another four miles south of town.

As of right now they're talking with various farm owners around the area who own the land around sections of the trail. Nichols hopes to cooperate with these farmers in bringing the trail back to life.

Ultimately, Mayor Geertz would like to reconnect Nichols’ portion of the Hoover Trail trail to West Liberty's portion in the north and Conesville's portion in the south.

He also wants to to apply a sealant to the rock, making it less dusty. One day he'd like to install cement and educational spots along the path that discuss the history of Nichols and its families.

The West Liberty portion of the Hoover Trail was recently revived by the city and the West Liberty Heritage Foundation a few years ago. Paved with asphalt, it runs by the train depot, which has many historical buildings and equipment. The Conesville section; however, is not currently being maintained.

Also, the Hoover Trail no longer connects West Liberty and Conesville due to the unkept Nichols trail between them. Full trail restoration will take interest from these communities, and others, throughout Iowa. But Mayor Geertz doesn't feel like the task is impossible.

"In Nichols the trail is there," he said. "It's just a matter of getting it back into shape. I think the town could benefit from having its section back in action."

The Nichols Betterment Committee plans to ready the northern section of the Nichols trail for a 5k fun run/walk during the Nichols October Festival, Sept. 28, in order to create interest in restoration.
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