MENASHA, Wis. (WFRV) – A study will soon get underway looking at the feasibility of a recreation trail, connecting the Fox Cities and High Cliff State Park. The goal is to finalize a plan to move forward by this time next year.

The Fox Cities are filled with many recreation trails.

“Loop the Lake, Friendship Trail, Paper Trail,” said Menasha Mayor Don Merkes.

Offering alternative paths to travel for pedestrians and bicyclists. Now, very soon, another might be added to that list, a multi-use path connecting the Fox Cities to High Cliff State Park.

“I’m confident the will and vision are here to make the High Cliff connection happen,” said Kim Biedermann, associate planner form East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

The need for the trail connection came out of a Fox Cities Trail Summit held last year. Now it’s become a top priority.

“Everybody wants to see this happening, everyone is committed to doing their part,” Community Foundation President Curt Detjen.

Friday morning municipal, state and nonprofit officials gathered at Heckrodt Wetland reserve to announce they are moving forward with a feasibility study, made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Nelson Family Fund.

“Exactly what is it, where is it and how do we fit the pieces together, so it’s done the right way. That takes careful planning,” Detjen said.

While trails abound in the Fox Cities and over $24 million in trail construction is expected by 2025, a complete, direct route to High Cliff State Park doesn’t exist. And the trails out there only get people so far.

“They are faced with navigating through winding residential neighborhoods where they eventually have to ride along high-speed roadways that lack facilities specific for bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Biedermann.

And these area leaders say it’s time that that changed. Because residents want and deserve a safe path to High Cliff State Park.

“This will be a great addition to the trail system. Hopefully they’ll find an easy way that we can connect to High Cliff,” said Harrison Village Board Trustee Pete Stier.

“We’ve found that you see the world differently on a trail, people connect, they explore, they re- energize and interact with nature,” said Menasha Mayor Don Merkes.

“This is the beginning of the next chapter, something that has been dreamed about and talked about in this region for a long time,” said Detjen.

The group hopes to begin the study in the fall and have a plan on how to move forward – this time next year.