Colby Walking Trails
Walking trails across Kansas, like the new path in Colby, are creating beautiful patterns of healthy behavior.
See Image Details
Sunflower Foundation > 2013 Annual Report > Features > Colby Walking Trails
Colby Walking Trails. Coming together to make a healthier community.
Colby’s new walking trail is more than a just a place to walk. It is a catalyst for community engagement, a place to connect with neighbors and a sign of the city’s commitment to health.
The Colby Trails Project began with a group of residents in this Northwest Kansas town who started discussing the need for a safe place to walk with city officials in the early 1990s. More recently, several residents attended the Kansas Built Environment and the Outdoors Summit and brought back energy and excitement around walkable cities. The group expanded into a county-wide coalition with the broader vision of building an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice.
"Everything just fell into place," said Sue Evans, an early member of the Thomas County Coalition.
In 2012, a grant from the Sunflower Foundation sparked even more interest. The coalition grew in strength and a fundraising campaign started to develop a two-mile trail system to connect a school, a city park and the community college. The trail brought residents together around a common goal: to make Colby a healthier place to live. Fundraising is never easy, but Evans explained that the trail served as a unique and tangible reminder of the goal.
Completed in the summer of 2013, Colby Trails are now providing benefits the group never imagined. Visitors from nearby counties appreciate the eight-foot-wide trail, which can easily accommodate groups of walkers, joggers and cyclists. Delivery drivers take a break from their routes on I-70 to spend time outside and get some exercise on the trail. And, of course, the people of Colby are rediscovering their city park one step at a time.
“We thought when we were done with the trail, we were finished with the project,” said Megan Carmichael, who works with the health coalition. “Now we’re finding out this is just the beginning.”
Sue Evans agrees, noting that due to the success of the first phase of Colby Walking Trails, more projects will follow. “The coalition has established a reputation for achieving success with projects such as this one, and as a result, more people have joined.”
In addition, the coalition now has buy-in from city administration, as well as suggestions for a citizen advisory group to help with a master walking plan.
“The success of the trail… has provided an opening for a robust community conversation.”