January 16, 2010

Winter walk along the Root River

One of the great additions to Racine in recent years has been the REC center along the Root River. The center, opened by UW-Parkside's Center for Community Partnerships, created an outpost for local residents to discover and enjoy a river that had largely gone ignored for decades (except by fishermen, who always knew the Root River as one of the best fishing spots in SE Wisconsin).

While the REC is largely enjoyed in warmer months - particularly the kayak and canoe rentals - it's a great starting point for winter adventures, as well. Positioned along the Root River Walkway, the center, located just off of West Sixth Street, is a great place to begin a snowy hike to parts of the Racine that, well, you won't recognize as Racine.

Theresa Ford (above) is an Americorps*VISTA volunteer through UW-Parkside and head of the REC center. She led an animal-tracking hike along the Root River pathway this month as an example of the outdoor opportunities available even on a frigid winter day.

Ford started the hike by noting the Root River is one of the cleanest rivers in SE Wisconsin, and therefore possibly the best suited to become a true environmental jewel not only for Racine, but for the entire region.

Along the way we spotted squirrel, rabbit, dog and deer tracks in the undisturbed snow.

The above photo is titled, "Is this Racine?" The answer is yes! It's one of many scenic views available to the anyone willing to pull on some boots and see a different side of our city. For parents, the trail is a great place to grab a sled and pull the kids along. Cross country skiers and snowshoers would also do well on the trail, which extends past city parks and the Washington Park golf course.

The Root River Pathway extends 4 miles east-to-west beginning at the Main Street Bridge and ending at Colonial Park. The REC is a nice place to connect with the trail because there's free parking, and you have the choice of heading east toward Downtown or west toward the golf course. Both offer nice views.

Even obvious signs of urban life take on a certain charm in the winter.

Theresa walks with Mary McIlvaine, program director for Neighborhood Watch, through a tunnel along the pathway.

One last photo ... graffiti usually isn't worth noting, but this tag seems to have come from a dedicated vegetarian. If only that's all our city gangs did ...


  1. The 1909 High Bridge in your photo was known as the Cat walk when I was a kid. We'd go out in the center pier where the gearing is to turn the bridge and drink beer. I have no clue how we ever made it back off.

  2. concrete katie1/17/2010 7:20 PM

    What a beautiful quote. Thank you, Dustin. If I ever get to leave this town it will be the Root River that reminds me of what Racine could be. I am so glad the REC Center has that bend in the watershed.