A family embarks on the Simon Kenton Bike Path that cuts through Champaign County. A group of volunteers that maintain the trail will hold a bike tour on Sunday, Sept. 8, with the hopes of raising money to maintain the trail. CONTRIBUTED

Simon Kenton group to host annual biking tour in Champaign County

The Simon Kenton Pathfinders are hosting an annual bike tour with the hopes of raising money to maintain the biking path that cuts through Champaign County.

The event will be held on Sunday and registration, which will last from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. that morning, will be held at the Depot Coffeehouse, 644 Miami St., in Urbana.

This year’s tour honors the memory of Betsy Bohl one of the original founders of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders, a team of volunteers who maintains the trail in the county. The group formed in 1997 and saw the opening of the trail in 2001.

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Since then, the all-volunteer group has organized a long list of activities to keep up the condition and add on to the path that runs from downtown Springfield up to Logan County. The pathfinders are responsible for maintaining 26 miles of the trail since Champaign County does not have a parks district, said Nancy Lokai-Baldwin, the vice president of the organization.

The all-volunteer group originally started with 13 members and has since grown to 275 members. Its original goal was to develop a shared-use path in Champaign County, which was later connected to trails in Clark County and now runs up to Bellefontaine in Logan County.

“I think that people are becoming more health conscious. The trail is something that people of any age can use,” Lokai-Baldwin said of the growing support for the trail over the years.

In addition to honoring Bohl, who served as treasurer of the group until 2015, the pathfinders hope to raise enough money for future projects. This year the group has raised over $50,000 to chip-seal the last three miles of the trail that goes into Logan County.

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The cost to participate in the bike tour is $30 and will include breakfast, and drinks and snacks throughout the three available biking routes, Lokai-Baldwin added, noting that all proceeds will go towards continual maintenance to the trail.

In conjunction with the annual biking tour the group is hosting its first Pathfinders Palooza at the Depot Coffee House and the event will last from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Sunday. The event will feature live bands with local musicians, food trucks, a beer garden and local vendors. It is free to attend.

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