Rochester Active Sports Club (RASC) is a nonprofit club based in Rochester Minnesota, designed to promote nordic skiing, mountain biking and road biking in SE Minnesota.

What trails has RASC contributed to?


Eastwood Park trails - there is a set of narrow trails for walking and mountain bike riding as well as a small set of wide wooded trails that are suitable for walking and running from spring through fall and skiing in the winter.

2) The Quarry Hill grass trails in the center and east side of the park. These multi-use trails (as described above)  support Nordic skiing in the winter.

3) The Essex Park grass trails. These multi-use trails are also designed to support Nordic skiing.

Why develop trails in the Rochester City Parks?

The Rochester Active Sports Club is focused on promoting and supporting those that wish to get outside and be active, whether they are a RASC member or not. Some less traditional active sports such as mountain bike riding and Nordic skiing, can also benefit by having suitable venues for participants to use. In this era of constrained municiple budgets, the club board recognized that the most realistic and efficient way to expand trails for Nordic skiing and mountain biking was to work cooperatively with Park and Rec and bring volunteer labor, sport specific expertise, and financial resources to the table. This process started more than 5 years ago and continues today.

How does RASC work with Park & Recreation Dept.

RASC members work with P&R staff to explore ideas to establish feasibility of a concept. Next a comprehensive written proposal is generated and reviewed/refined iteratively. Once it is accepted by both groups, it is taken to the Park Board for review and approval. The Park Board may ask for changes or add stipulations. Once approved, a contract is drafted between the City and RASC. This process is open to all and may be used by any club, group, organization, etc.

Trails remain the property of, and are under the jurisdiction of the Park Department. RASC is merely a volunteer steward of the trails.

Building a sustainable trail

RASC members have been trained in trail building using the methods of the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). These techniques are applicable to all types of multi-use trails.

The key points to building sustainable, erosion resistant trails are:

1) Route planning - trails should be layed out carefully to work with the terrain - preferably across the fall line. Trails must ascend or descend a grade gradually, using turns or switchbacks as needed. Trails should not be placed in natural drainage ways. Trails should be interesting to the user and should strive to avoid large trees, flora of interest, and signficant alteration of the terrain.

2) Grade & Drainage - the key to minimizing erosion is to slow the flow of water and direct it off of the trail and into vegetation. Any long run where water can pick up speed, will erode. Grading should always strive to have a 'slope' to the trail such that water will flow slowly off of it.

3) Tread base - This depends on the use of the trails. Wider trails will ideally be planted in grass. This will help prevent erosion and the grass makes a nice surface to walk and run on. Where grass will not grow, wood chips are an option. On narrow trails (mountain bike), firmly packed dirt is acceptable.

How is trail development funded?

Funds for trail building come from the following sources:
1) Donors including both individuals and groups,
2) Fund raising events
3) Grants
4) RASC General Funds

What trail maintenance does RASC perform ?

1) Mowing of grass trails during the warm seasons every 2-3 weeks.
2) Cutting of brush along the side and removal of down trees.
3) Reseeding where needed.
3) Ski Trail grooming in the winter months.

Positive Aspect of Trails

Increases access to parks - trails go into under-utilized areas.  Wide, well graded trails may be used by those with wheels chairs or other mobility aids. They provide users a well defined access to view our natural resources. They are a great place for aerobic exercise. The soft base is easier on the joints for runners and offers a nice alternative to asphalt. The wide trails facilitate small groups by walking side by side. This also distributes the wear across a wider cross section of trail, making a grass treadway more feasible than on a single file trail.

Increases park use - It is good that people get out and are active in the city parks - especially in today's environment where obesity is a challenging issue. People's presence reduces the liklihood of unwanted activities, i.e. a vacant park can be a magnet for unwanted behaviour.

Spring, Summer and Fall Trail Use

Use of Rochester City Parks is governed by City Ordinance 45b. Trails are available for use by the public for any allowed activity.

Winter Trail Use: Use of Rochester City Parks is governed by City Ordinance 45b.

The following are provided as 'guidelines'. Grooming ski trails is very expensive and labor intensive. The more we all care for the trail base, the longer it will last.

Winter Guidelines:
- Sledding - When groomed for ski trails, we ask that people use designated sledding hills and do not sled on the ski trails. This is to ensure everyone's safety. 

- Skiers should ski in control at all times.

- Snowshoeing on ski trails is encouraged. Please walk to the side of the trail opposite the classic track.

- Walking is allowed on groomed ski trails however the cleared bike paths may provide easier walking. . Please use packed walking paths when provided. If not present, please walk to the the side of the trail opposite the classic track. If conditions are such that your footprints are deep, it may be better to walk on a cleared bike path that day as deep imprints are very hard to remove.

- Dog Sleds - The running of dog sleds is not allowed. This is for the safetly of all trail users and to prevent the trail base from being damaged.

Essex Park Trail Facts

We have received some comments that construction of the 

Essex Park trails was disruptive to the park. Trail work does require the removal of some small trees and selective grading. We try to minimize this as much as possible. Essex Park has always had a network of rough trails in place. These were used wherever possible. To illustrate the reuse of exising trails and the use of open grassland, we've categorized today's trails below:

3.6 km - Field grass trails - these are trails either in the 

55th St. grass field or in the south section of the park that was replanted in prairie grass at the completion of the sewer expansion project.

1.7 km - Existing bituminous paths

1.7 km - Existing Woods Trails, regraded as needed 

0.9 km - Existing Mowed park area

0.5 km - New Woods Trails

Fact - 1.33 km of 10' wide trail uses only one acre of ground. Thus the new woods trails in

Essex Park disturbed only 0.38 acres or the rough equivalent of 1 -2 city home lots.


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