The Ottumwa Courier

October 16, 2013

Celebrating fall: Popular trail drive set for Sunday

By LAURA CARRELL
Courier staff writer

---- — FAIRFIELD — Enjoy the beautiful fall colors while driving through 7 1/2 miles of historic trails in Jefferson County Park.

Now in its ninth year, the Fall Trail Drive Through will be open to vehicle tours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The event provides a scenic autumn display and a chance to see parts of the park usually reserved for hikers and bikers. Once a year, the park opens parts of its trails to one-way traffic, and Jefferson County Park Host Ron Meyers says it's always been well received.

"It's been very popular, and we're happy to do it," Meyers said.

The recreational trail is very narrow, as are the bridges throughout the system, but Meyers says there are three sections that are wide enough for vehicles. These portions of trail all begin at the 32nd Avenue entrance to the Cedar View Trail. Drivers can then drive one trail, come back to the beginning and drive another.

"The neat thing that happens is that you'll see handicapped stickers in vehicles. People who hike and bike the trail will bring their neighbors out for the ride, those who wouldn't normally get to see it," Meyers said.

Around 150 vehicles go through the trail drive each year. This year, Meyers is excited about the autumn possibilities.

"I think this is going to be the best year yet," he said. "Usually we're behind the colors. We're not really blessed with a tremendous number of hardwoods, but this time we should have more leaves and color than before."

There is a lot of history associated with the fall drive through. From the Rock Island Railroad, abandoned since the 1970s to remnants of an 1850s railroad bridge to the 100-year-old Whitham nursery, there are plenty of places to enjoy along the trail. The Maasdam Barns and Museum will also be open for those who wish to visit and experience the horse-and-buggy days.

The event will be open regardless of weather.