WOODSTOCK – A pent-up demand for more horse-friendly trails may have a new outlet next spring, conversation district officials and horse riding advocates said.
A temporary, cut-grass trail will wind 4.25 miles through the Brookdale Conservation Area, hooking up to the current trail system and perhaps opening in late May 2015, McHenry County Conservation District spokeswoman Wendy Kummerer said.
The trail, which will continue to be assessed for low and wet spots over the next three seasons, crosses Paulson Road and runs a loop around agricultural fields, staying west of Deep Cut Road, Kummerer said.
The proposal is the result of three years of “hard work and a lot of meetings and a lot of hand holding and anguish and so forth,” said Vern Scacci, president of the McHenry County Horse Club.
A preview of the trail is planned for Sept. 20.
The club is set to sign on to a five-year memorandum of understanding with the conservation district, which its board of trustees approved last month, aimed at working together to implement the horse trails already laid out in existing master plans, he said.
The McHenry County Horse Club will serve as the voice of the horse community and the Equine Coalition of McHenry County, which also includes the McHenry County Saddle Club, the Bull Valley Riding Club and the Barrington Hills Riding Club.
The four organizations represent about 500 members, Scacci said.
“There’s a pent-up demand for trails in McHenry County,” he said. “McHenry County has returned to being the highest per capita horse county in the United States.”
Beyond the trails already laid out in conservation district plans, the McHenry County Horse Club also hopes in the long term to extend the multipurpose trail to the south side of the Brookdale Conservation Area by building a connection underneath Route 14 and to connect the Brookdale trails with the ones that already exist at the Rush Creek Conservation Area through easements granted by private landowners.
“What we’re trying to do is work the public-private angle to address the funding issue,” Scacci said.
The group in conjunction with the McHenry County Conservation Foundation has raised just short of $15,000 in grants and donations to help with the Brookdale trail and a horse trailer parking lots.
Preview the Brookdale trail
A pre-opening ride of the proposed Brookdale Conservation Area trail is planned for Sept. 20. A continental breakfast will served at 9 a.m. with the ride to follow at 10 a.m.
Reservations are require and can be made by contacting McHenry County Horse Club President Vern Scacci at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-354-4418.
For information, including a map of where to park, visit the club's website at www.mchenrycountyhorseclub.com.
Donations can be made by sending a check to the McHenry County Conservation District, P.O. Box 1108, Woodstock, IL 60098, and earmarking it for the Brookdale horse trail system.