Widseth Landscape Architect Jillian Reiner presented the preferred trail routes between Frazee and Vergas regarding the Heartland and Heart of the Lakes Trails and answered questions from an engaged group of local residents during the Vergas open house Thursday, May 18.

By Robert Williams


Patrick Hollister of PartnerShip 4 Health is spearheading both committees in Frazee and Vergas on future connecting trails between the two towns.

Widseth Landscape Architect Jillian Reiner and Patrick Hollister of PartnerShip 4 Health presented conceptual plan options to connect Vergas to the Heartland Trail at Frazee and the Heart of the Lakes Trail, along with an update on the status of Wannigan Park planning and development at the Vergas Event Center Thursday, May 18.

The open house quickly turned into a question and answer period that lasted nearly an hour as both speakers fielded questions from residents of Vergas and the Wymer Lake area.

“Our goal here was to look at routes that could be 10-foot, off-road, multi-user trails similar to what you have already constructed here in town,” said Reiner. 

That goal was impossible in all areas, but the trail committee used a variety of metrics to determine what would be the preferred routes, including traffic counts, right-of-way widths, topography, wetlands, number of residences potentially impacted, and consultations with Becker and Otter Tail County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the Departments of Natural Resources and Transportation.

There were two potential routes south to the Heart of the Lakes Trail and four options to connect Vergas and Frazee and on to Wannigan Park. The big concern with the latter was crossing U.S. Highway 10.

The preferred route from Vergas to Frazee would begin with a trailhead at the Long Lake Trail  and Tin Can Alley traveling east on State Highway 60 to the gravel 370th Avenue running north to East Wymer Lake Road connecting to State Highway 87 and crossing U.S. 10 via the existing bridge.

Other options included County Highway 4 with multiple branches to West Wymer Lake Road, or around Eagle Lake or the full length of 4 to the 87 bridge.

County Highway 4 had amenities that could be beneficial to trail users but there were many more obstacles engineering-wise.

Area residents questioned and discussed the north and south sides of 60, also where the trail goes through Vergas, which will be a shared lane on existing roads Pelican and Linden Avenues, along with the two options south out of town.

The through town road sharing will not impact parking in Vergas.

The preferred route south was easier to determine between County Highway 4  to 41 versus County Highway 35 running south between Sybil and Loon Lake.

There are construction plans already in place for 35 in 2025 which will allow trail construction at the same time.

Residents brought up the potential hazards regarding traffic speeds on East Looney Lane between Sybil and Loon Lakes, along with past accidents that had occurred there.

There will be a second open house for interested parties to comment and get more information on the proposed trails Tuesday, May 23, at the Frazee Event Center, from 6-8 p.m. A meal will be provided compliments of the Frazee Community Development Corporation and kids are welcome. The presentation lasts approximately 45 minutes. There will be two presentations available for attendees that arrive at 7 p.m.

Hollister encouraged Thursday’s attendees to attend as well as different information will be shared.

“We’ll have a different group of people Tuesday night who will likely ask different questions than last night, which will shed light on things we did not think of last night,” he said.