The sound of freight cars clacking along the tracks generations ago have been replaced with the sound of footsteps hitting pavement, the whoosh of bicyclists speeding by, and the occasional dog panting alongside a runner on what is today the Marion Tallgrass Trail.
After negotiating with the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad for 12 years, the laying of the trail’s foundation took place in 2009 where the nature center and main parking lot creates the trail head. Since then, eleven miles have been paved. Without the dedication and collaboration of the Marion County Park District, local organizations such as the Marion Rotary Club, Marion Community Foundation, and Marion’s citizens, the Tallgrass Trail wouldn’t be what it is so far. No tax dollars were used in the creation of the Trail. This year, the 12th and final mile paved will touch the Hardin County line, completing the Trail in Marion County with a total of 12.4 miles.
The Trail runs through the Big Island Wildlife Preserve, which attracts Trumpeter Swans, migrating south in winter and heading home in the spring. Visitors can join one of naturalist James Anderson’s regularly scheduled guided nature tours or explore on their own.
New and exciting things are coming in 2017. Canoeing, kayaking, and fishing at the Marion Community Foundation Lake begins in the spring. The Marion County Park District will also be providing new adaptive programs for visitors with disabilities to enjoy every aspect of the trail.
Whether it’s bird watching–which is a visitor favorite–taking a walk alongside the wildflowers, or visiting the nature center and attending one of its many programs, the Marion Tallgrass Trail boasts a multitude of things to relish all year round.