We'd like to extend a sincere thank you to all of you who made 2017 such a special one for the WOW Trail. June 11, 2017 marked the grand opening of Phase 2 of the WOW Trail with a ribbon cutting ceremony on the trail behind the downtown Laconia train station. A true public/private partnership, the Phase 2 expansion has shown us what's possible when municipalities partner with residents and local businesses to create the type of vibrant communities they'd like to be.
With the completion of Phase 2's connection to Belmont's Winnisquam Scenic Trail, residents and visitors now enjoy 4 1/4 miles of trail, spanning from Lakeport to Osborne's Agway in Belmont. Eight new "Adopt-a-Sections" have been adopted by local businesses and organizations, and a WOW Trail Ambassador program was started with over 25 volunteers already working to promote safety and stewardship on the trail.
Well-loved and used by residents and visitors alike, the trail includes two beautiful murals--one at Bartlett Beach that was created by a group of talented artists from Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region and Stand Up Laconia, and another that was created by local children who attended the summer session of Laconia's Camp Van Gogh. Of the WOW Trail Phase 2, Laconia Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Dunleavy recently said:
"The construction of Phase 2 of the WOW Trail has had an immediate positive impact on Laconia's Bartlett Beach. This beach was underutilized and subject to undesirable behavior by some of its visitors. The WOW Trail Phase 2 has greatly improved access to the beach and introduced this hidden gem to many people who were not aware of it. With a steady stream of trail users through Bartlett Beach, the WOW Trail has displaced most of the negative activity by simply providing a constant public presence by members of the community who appreciate what the trail and beach offer."
The WOW Trail became the venue for a weekly community bike ride in the summer of 2017 hosted by MC Cycle & Sport & Wayfarer Coffee Roasters and originating in downtown Laconia every Friday evening. The trail and Bartlett Beach also served as a venue for a variety of fundraisers and community events in 2017 including a new dog walking club, Laconia Police Department's National Night Out, Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region's first Strengthening Community Walk/Fundraiser, Bow WOW Festival benefiting the New Hampshire Humane Society, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage's Poker Run/Walk, and the 2nd Annual Santa Shuffle Run/Walk supporting the Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction/Pub Mania.
WOW Trail Phase 2 was constructed thanks to the collective effort of many community volunteers and donors who believed in and consistently invested in its construction. As we look ahead to 2018, we'll be creating a new website, map and brochure to help market the trail and bring new visitors to explore the trail and this area. We'll continue to enhance Phases 1 & 2 of the trail, and we will be working with others to reconsider a way forward for the WOW Trail that makes sense for the City of Laconia, the business community, residents and visitors of this beautiful place we call home.
If you'd like to join the conversation or learn more about how you can become more involved with our organization in 2018, please let us know. We'd love to hear from you.
Best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy 2018.
Gretchen Gandini & the WOW Trail Board of Directors