Minot’s recreational trail system

Signage is evident on the recreational trails system throughout Minot. The long-term plan is to connect several segments of the trail to make it even more inviting for user. Kim Fundingsland/MDN

Minot’s recreational trail system has not been forgotten in the midst of extensive flood protection construction. Interrupted a bit, but not enough to significantly disrupt usage by hikers and bikers. And, looking down the path, there are some pretty nifty improvements in the works too.

The trail system throughout the city, even some segments beyond the city limits, has long been a work in progress. As more and more connecting routes are completed the public enjoys longer options and more variety when choosing to utilize the trails.

One trail system that has become increasingly popular is the Bison Plant Trail. It is 3.1 miles of winding trail through riverine habitat along the Souris River east of Minot.

“The mountain bike club helps maintain the trail there,” said Rory Schell, Minot. “There’s the Bison Trail and a Challenge Trail. It’s a dirt trail. We ride fat tire bikes there all winter.”

The trail is also groomed for cross-county skiing during the winter months, another activity that adds considerable usage to the trail. However, it is in the summer months that the Bison Plant Trail is most heavily used.

“Oh gosh! You wouldn’t believe it!” remarked Schell. “Our Thursday night rides have 20 to 25 people. Really, it’s used all day long during the week. It’s unreal.”

Schell operates Val’s Cyclery of Minot and, as such, is heavily involved with the biking community and is an active promoter of the trail system. He envisions Minot’s trail system being improved as part of the flood protection project underway in the city and elsewhere, but knows any new sections of trail system where future dike work is scheduled may not be developed as quickly as some trail users would like.

“There’s so much going on right now with the trail system and the flood project,” said Schell. “We’re trying to work with the Corps to get a trail along the new dike. I just don’t know for sure. Some things are still in the works.”

Shannon Straight, Minot alderman, is enthusiastic about future recreational opportunities within the city, both on the Souris River and with the recreational trails system.

“As flood protection comes through town we can develop a trail system from Burlington to the Bison Plant,” said Straight. “It would be a unique and dynamic network from west to east. A greenway trail system would add a new and intriguing quality of life”

Straight is exploring the possibility of a “bike sharing” program in the city in conjunction with an improved trail system. Bike sharing involves having a central hub where bikes are available for rent to anyone who wishes to use them. At the completion of their ride a user would simply park the bike at one of several specialized bike racks in the city.

“It is an exciting development,” said Straight.

A bike sharing program is used in Fargo, primarily for North Dakota State University students to have access to a bicycle to get from the campus of NDSU to downtown Fargo. In Minot the program would likely involve the partnering of several organizations.

“There are those in town who have a desire that want to see a bike share program developed,” said Straight. “We are looking at a similar program at Minot State. A single ride might cost $4 and the bikes could be dropped at many different spots. Maybe we’d start small with downtown, Oak Park and some other dreams down the road.”

Bikes that are “shared” would be available through a smart phone app. A user could reserve a bike for a certain time period, use a code to release the bike from a specialized rack, then ride the bike for a specified period of time and return it. Initial costs for the program could be lessened by the sale of advertising on bicycles or through sponsorships, such as by service clubs or other organizations.

While bike sharing may be several months away, another project involving recreational opportunities for cyclists is close to becoming a reality. A mountain bike trail is a possibility for the old landfill area immediately east of the Maysa arena. The property covers approximately 50 acres.

A portion of the cost of certain segments of Minot’s trail system, said Straight, could potentially come from organizations such as the Audubon Society. The Audubon Society has assisted with costs of similar trails elsewhere in the state.