Jay Cooke Reopens; Swing Bridge Still Damaged
Posted at: 10/22/2012 2:10 PM
| Updated at: 10/22/2012 10:52 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
Jay Cooke State Park reopened Monday after June flooding destroyed roads and trails in and around the park. While campers are welcome to pitch tents and explore 38 of the 50 miles of trails, there are still some things that have not been fixed. The iconic swing bridge has not been repaired and is expected to debut next summer.
"We were heartbroken," Park Manager Gary Hoeft said. "It's kind of like a grieving process. We took that and we turned it around, and that made us all the more determined to get out and fix what was broken."
The park was able to open after the west entrance, through Esko, was repaired. The east entrance is still closed.
"All of a sudden, we were kind of this island," Hoeft said. "Our only access in and out was via a single lane bicycle trail."
Many trails were also fixed by replacing smaller bridges and culverts. Hoeft estimated the project, in its entirety, to have a price tag in the ballpark of $2.5 million.
Visitors were excited Monday to explore the newly opened park. A couple from Cloquet, Bob and Mary Carey, said they've been counting down the days.
"We've been waiting a long time for this to happen because we use the park an awful lot," Hiker Bob Carey said. "It was tough. We had to find other trails. Around cloquet there are a few, but nothing like Jay Cooke."
Campers can start making reservations starting November 1 and educational programs at the park start November 3.