Harlingen adds to Hike and Bike Trail

HARLINGEN — Since the city’s Hike and Bike Trail opened in 2000, officials have come up with big plans to expand one of Harlingen’s most popular attractions.

In November, the city opened a 4.1-mile stretch that runs from Hugh Ramsey Nature Park to Texas State Technical College.

The project comes more than 15 years after the city built its original 2.7-mile Hike and Bike Trail that runs from McKelvey Park to Interstate 69 near Arroyo Park.

But the city’s Trails Master Plan calls for more than 40 miles of trails, City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday.

“It’s a long-term project,” Mayor Chris Boswell said. “This is a great quality-of-life program. It’s of great importance because people use these trails to improve their health.”

Boswell said the master plan calls for about 10 construction projects.

“We have to plan for them as we can and try to find grants when we can,” Boswell said.

Next, Serna said, officials plan a $1.7 million, 2.6-mile project to connect McKelvey Park to Dixieland Park.

Officials are trying to land grants to fund the project, he said.

As part of the city’s overall program, officials plan a $700,000, 1-mile project to connect the original 2.7-mile trail with the new 4.1-section linking Hugh Ramsey Park with TSTC.

“That’s something we’d definitely like to see in the near future,” Serna said.

Boswell said officials decided to build the new 4.1-mile section to give residents a bicycle route to TSTC.

“Schools and neighbors connect TSTC so the trail provides routes to get to the campus,” Boswell said.

Serna said the new section also winds across Hugh Ramsey Park, giving birders and nature buffs a scenic route along part of the World Birding Center.

But the master plan would develop a wide network of trails that would wind around the city, Serna said.

“We’ll have one end of the city connected to another through the trail system,” he said.

Like the trail’s two existing sections, much of the proposed stretches would wind along the Arroyo Colorado.

“We think making connections will create a loop around the city to allow you to walk or ride around the city through scenic areas along the arroyo,” Serna said.