The Joanna Trail Project is an example of a community coming together to provide recreational opportunities and education for a wide range of trail and trailhead users, while stimulating the local economy by attracting visitors to the area.
The Joanna Trail Project is an important one for north Missouri trail and trailhead visitors. Joanna Trail is a destination for day-users and campers— equestrians, hikers, geocachers, backpackers, runners, and mountain bikers. In addition, the amenities at Joanna Trail’s Frank Russell Trailhead— fishing pond, nature area, pavilion, picnic areas, and rest rooms (all handicapped accessible) are attractions.
The Joanna Trail itself provides over 30 miles of varied scenery, surfaces, and wildlife-viewing experiences. The NEMO River Valley Chapter of the Show-Me Missouri Back Country Horsemen plays an important role in keeping the multi-use trail maintained and marked to ensure successful navigation by its users.
This work is accomplished with members and their horses and mules putting “boots and hooves to the ground,” clipping, sawing, cleaning and marking all segments of the trail and its loops, to provide a positive experience and keep it safe.
Several chapter members are certified sawyers, for this purpose. In addition to trail maintenance, members assume responsibility for rest stop destinations on the trail, the remote Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, and the picnic area near the Log Cabin.
The NEMO River Valley Chapter has partnered with the Corps of Engineers personnel on several projects, including a RTP grant of $75,210, which resulted in restrooms at Frank Russell and Spalding Trailheads, which are two major staging points for trail users. Back Country Horsemen members donated and installed hitching posts, and refurbished tables at these trailheads, as well as destination points on the trail.
The chapter took advantage of Trail Maintenance Incentive funds available from the state organization to provide new bulletin board maps and ethics signage, and directional markers to trailheads at trail intersections. Due to the partnership, there are seven equestrian-friendly campsites in the stall area at Frank Russell Trailhead, and demand for them in riding season is high.
This project has been supported not only by local Back Country Horsemen, but also by local Boy Scout Troop 177 and their adults, high school FFA and Vocational students and their teachers, White Tails Unlimited members, and other FOREST (Mark Twain Lake “friends” group) members.
Ongoing efforts to maintain and shape the trail include: altering the trail’s path across ditches to minimize erosion; mowing grass in the equestrain campground and around the waterborne restrooms; re-marking the trail; and removal of flood debris in low areas.
Additionally, a new loop trail, named the Cow Llick Loop, has been designed to accommodate an interest group that has been limited by the trail's difficulty. This loop trail is laid out for young families who cannot take their children on a long hike, but still want to get them into the outdoors. This quarter-mile loop just off of the Joanna trailhead provides a limited incline hike through shaded upland forest. The Joanna Trail is quickly becoming an outdoor recreational destination for visitors, and has been meeting the ever-changing needs of diverse users for over a decade with essential help from its diverse network of partners and volunteers.