Rebecca Snyder on Monday could only wonder how beautiful the view was from atop Sander's Mound, which overlooks the blue-gray waters of Clinton Lake.
"We didn't make it to the top today," said Snyder, who was walking with a friend along a beaten-down grass trail near the Clinton Lake Dam. "It was just too muddy."
Soon, mud shouldn't stop anyone from partaking in what some area nature buffs have said is the most striking vista of Clinton Lake available. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with the city's Parks and Recreation Department and the Kansas Trails Council, have been awarded a $171,000 federal grant to build a new one-mile concrete trail to the site.
The new trail will connect with the city's existing trail system that runs along the South Lawrence Trafficway, but ends before it crosses the west side of the Clinton Lake Dam Road. The new trail - which will be 10 feet wide like the existing SLT trail - also will provide an easy way for hikers and bikers to access the lake's 23-mile Northshore Trail system that runs throughout the state park area.
"I think the most positive benefit will be that it will link two trails together and link two sets of recreational areas together," said Mike Goodwin, president of the Kansas Trails Council. "Once it is completed, somebody would be able to hike or bike all the way from south Lawrence deep into the Clinton Lake area."
Willem Helms, a park ranger who planned the project for the Corps of Engineers, said construction on the trail likely would begin in late summer and be completed before the end of the year. He said he thought the trail would open the mound up to many new users because it is adjacent to the lake's Overlook Park area. Many users of the Overlook Park see the mound but don't venture to the top of the hill because cutting through the tall native grasses that surround the mound can be difficult.
"You need to bring your boots," Snyder said.
But once you get to the top, the view is worth it, Helms said. The mound gives visitors a birds-eye view of much of the lake's 7,000 acres of water and its shore that is lined with woods and patches of prairie.
"In my book, the mound offers the most breathtaking vistas of the entire area," Helms said.
The trail, though, will only take hikers to the base of the mound. Helms said the project partners decided against taking the trail up the hill because they were concerned about damage it could do to the grasses, which include remnants of the area's native prairie.
Some visitors to the site on Monday, though, said they liked the primitive nature of the area.
"I kind of like it the way it is," said Erin Stanley, who was visiting the area Monday from Seattle. "A concrete path would maybe be a little too manicured for me."
Several nonconcrete trails, including some up to the top of the mound, will remain.
The trail will be funded through a program administered by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, which receives funding for the grant program from the Federal Highway Administration.