Since it began operating in April 2016, the Madison County camp site at the scenic Prairie Grass/Roberts Pass Trail has been used almost 180 times by campers, including 21 by campers from other countries.
This according to Wayne Roberts, executive director of the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails, in a report to Madison County Commissioners Monday morning during a presentation by the Madison County Metropolitan Park Board.
The board first discussed with Commissioners the status of funds for the trail extension project.
Donations for the trail extension have reached $52,000 so far with roughly $20,000 to go, said Roberts. “We are in pretty good condition so far.”
“How are you so successful at gathering donations from donors? What is your technique?” asked Commissioner David Dhume. Roberts pointed out that when they receive a $500 donation from someone outside of the area, it points to satisfaction with the trail and campgrounds.
He then shared the campground statistics and comments from those using the trails. The campgrounds are located behind the Madison County Senior Citizens Center just off the trail.
He said a rider recently told a board member that, “We have some of the best trails he had ever seen and the campground was outstanding. This goes on and on from our campers,” he said.
“We have had 179 campers since we started, and of those 74 are from Ohio, 84 are from 25 other states, and 21 are from other countries around the world,” he told Commissioners, according to survey results returned to them by the campers.
“You (Commissioners) made this possible. It’s been you folks who gave the OK to put in the camping area and look at the results. It has been a great opportunity to meet these people, and talk to these people and listen to the adventures they have had. These people have told us how much they love the trails and campgrounds and how much they appreciate this local community. We would not have had this without your support,” said Roberts.
The foreign visitors came from England, Canada, Australia, Spain, Japan, and Portugal.
“I am always impressed by the visitors from around the country and world. It should open up our eyes,” said Dhume.
Commissioner Mark Forrest pointed out that those using the trails are much safer than if they would have been on U.S. Route 40 or other roads.
According to the survey, there were 63 campers using the facility in 2016, and 116 so far this year. “We asked riders to fill out a camping card, and asked them to give suggestions for improvements,” said Roberts.
Roberts said what is even better than the increase in numbers from one year to the next was the positive comments they have received. This came as no surprise to him, “The camping facilities are all free,” he pointed out.
“Campground is amazing,” said Pennsylvanian Donald Clouser in the survey after his 2016 visit. “I wish more towns had one.” Many of the visitors also said they wished other towns had one along the Ohio to Erie Trail.
“Put one of these every 80 miles,” suggested another bicyclist.