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Gold Star Trail ride

Two Gold Star families who initiated the effort to build a non-motorized trail honoring all fallen military service members from Wisconsin celebrate the completion of construction of phase one of the Gold Star Memorial Trail on Nov. 21. From left are Greg and Barb Gassen of Beaver Dam, parents of U.S. Army Pfc. Jacob Gassen, who was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 29, 2010; and Laura and Andrew Johnson of Mayville, parents of 1st Lt. David Johnson, killed in Afghanistan on Jan. 25, 2012.

MAYVILLE — After five years and an investment of $670,000, Phase 1 of the 10-foot-wide, paved, all-season Gold Star Memorial Trail opened Nov. 21.

When it is completed, the non-motorized trail will connect the city of Mayville to the city of Beaver Dam going through Horicon and linking with the Wild Goose State Trail. The trail is the brainchild of Andrew Johnson of Mayville and will also serve as a memorial to Wisconsin military service members who have been killed in action. Johnson is the father of First Lt. David Johnson, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on Jan. 25, 2012.

Phase 1 starts at Tyler Park in Mayville and runs about 2.1 miles in the Highway 28 right of way to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Education and Visitor Center in the Horicon Marsh. It is available for non-motorized uses — hiking, biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, and will not be plowed in winter.

Currently, the Horicon Marsh trails do not permit bike riding, but is possible to walk a bike on the southern Bachhuber Trail to Palmatory Point, which then connects to the city of Horicon Gold Star Memorial Trail bike route. The Horicon bike route leads to the west end of the city near Whitty Park, which will serve as the connecting point for the next phase of the project.

That phase will connect the city of Beaver Dam to the west side of the city of Horicon.

“We are so very thankful to all those that contributed their time, resources and support to this unique community project — a project that provides a significant recreation, transportation and health resource while helping us remember and appreciate those that gave the ultimate sacrifice serving our country and the families they left behind,” said Dodge County Land Resources and Parks Director and Gold Star Memorial Trail project manager Bill Ehlenbeck.

Mayville’s Theiler Park will serve as the main trailhead, where a kiosk with memorial, donor and trail information is planned for the spring. Trail and trailhead identification signs will also be installed prior to the grand opening on National Trails Day June 1.

Donations for the Theiler Park kiosk, future trail phases and other trail enhancements can be made to Friends of Dodge County Parks, c/o Gold Star Memorial Trail, P.O. Box 72, Juneau, WI 53039. A memorial bench program will also be available soon. For more Gold Star Memorial Trail information, updates and links, visit dodgeparks.com. Information also is available at goldstarmemorialtrailwi.org.