By Rebecca Flannery
A run down the banks of the Brazos just got a little longer thanks to the connection of the Brazos Riverwalk with Brazos Park East.
The $2.6 million project to create a 1.3-miles extension began in 2012. It was unveiled for use on Sept. 11 and the trail now covers five miles along the east bank of the Brazos, running 10 feet wide alongside North Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard through the woods.
Brazos Park East has amenities including horseshoe pits, barbecue pits, a boat ramp and now a lit, concrete trail connecting Herring Avenue to the park. The park is also available to rent as a venue.
Jonathan Cook, Waco community manager, said the project was mostly funded by a state transportation grant. The other portion of the cost was funded by the city.
“We’ve already had a great response to the new trail,” Cook said. “There have been several bikers, hikers and families with strollers out.”
The finished concrete is a new feature for the trail system. It offers area in the middle of the woods free of mud or poison ivy for those walking the trail, said Cook.
Dale Fisseler, Waco city manager, said they plan on extending the trail farther on both ends in the coming years.
“We hope to have the trail extending from Herring Avenue to McLane Stadium by 2016,” Fisseler said. “And heading the other way, eventually leading to the Waco Mammoth Site.”
Fisseler said this addition to the riverwalk shows off a part of the park system in the city that doesn’t receive much attention.
“You never hear people say there are too many parks in Waco,” Fisseler said.
The trail is surrounded by woods and peeks through parts of the riverfront, offering multiple views of Cameron Park, which sits across the other side of the Brazos.
The construction of the trail halted the use of a disc golf course that originally weaved in and out of the wooded area, according to the City of Waco’s website.
The city has since reinstalled the 18-hole course and it is listed as one of the two championship disc golf courses that sits along the Brazos River. The other is in Cameron Park, on the opposite side of the river.
The boat ramps at Brazos Park East are frequented by those who sailgate at McLane Stadium, Cook said. The boats can be placed in the water at the park, about three miles up river from the stadium, and then head to the Baylor Marina at McLane to dock and enjoy game day.
Malcolm Duncan, the Mayor of Waco, said during the ribbon cutting ceremony he was impressed with the use of parks in the city.
“I’m astounded at the use of this park and the continuation of Cameron Park,” Duncan said. “It’s really encouraging. We’ve got such a beautiful natural setting that I don’t think any other city in Texas can match.”