A pair of ribbon cuttings has been held this summer to highlight the completion of new segments of the Owatonna trails system. Just this Monday city and parks and recreation department officials gathered at the new 18th Street trail on the south side of town.

The new paved trail and mountain bike path were constructed in conjunction with road improvements on 18th Street SE. City Councilman Kevin Raney says safety was a factor in building the paved trail after several bicycle accidents on the uneven roadway. He added that it's nice to reduce the number of broken up segments of city trails.

Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz opened the ceremony calling the new trail a "great addition to Owatonna." He commented on how it connects to the new 35-unit apartment complex that just opened on 18th Street. Both Kuntz and Raney mentioned that Explore Minnesota named Kaplan's Woods a Top Ten park to visit for a fall hike. Raney added that it is one of just a couple in the top ten that don't require an admission fee or parking cost.

The Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism website stresses that Kaplan's Woods trails and designed to accommodate mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners. Straight River Sports was on hand Monday, offering trial runs on the trail with fat tire bikes.

Earlier this summer the North Straight River Trail opened providing a connection to 26th Street NE. The new trail was part of the course for the From the Heart Run fundraiser.

Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media