If you pave it, they will bike ... or jog, or walk, or rollerblade or whatever.

That was the basic theory behind the building of Trout Run Trail over the course of the last 12 years. The trail conveniently encircles the city of Decorah, which makes it easy for folks to start and stop from the same location. But what makes this incredible scenic trail so appealing is the fact that every inch is paved.

A lot of communities can boast about having a bike or recreational trail, but the vast majority consist of packed-down gravel rather than a smooth, and much safer, paved surface. It was a lot more expensive to accomplish, but Decorah, Winneshiek County and the entire area should reap the benefits of that multi-million-dollar effort for decades to come.

The total number of people who had a hand in making Trout Run Trail happen is endless. Trying to thank them all individually would fill this entire newspaper, so, on behalf of the entire community, kudos to any and all who helped make this incredible project come to life.

When it began, a lot of "stinkin' thinkers" thought it was a complete waste of time and money. But the members of the original Trails of Winneshiek committee would not be deterred. They had a vision of what could be, and they remained steadfast in their determination to make the dream become a reality despite all the naysayers and critics.

They are the ones who deserve most of the credit because it was their foresight and perseverance that turned a drawing on a tabletop into the envy of rural towns throughout the Midwest. Not unlike the Minnesota community of Lanesboro that went from near nonexistence to a thriving, bustling, prosperous village/city once a paved recreational trail that runs throughout that entire area was completed, the Trout Run Trail will have a profoundly positive impact on Decorah and the county well into the future.

To be sure, Decorah had a lot going for it long before the Trail opened, but there's no question it represents the cherry on top of a sublime Northeast Iowa sundae ... it's truly a gem that all can enjoy and treasure.

So congratulations to everyone who had anything at all to do with making this remarkable achievement happen. From the kindergartner who emptied her piggybank to donate to the cause, to the businesses that wrote huge checks, we say thank you a million times over.

With new retail enterprises opening up on a regular basis, long-established companies flourishing and now this magnificent recreational facility, Decorah has become a rural boom town during a time when countless similarly-sized communities are struggling.

And that's no accident. This city and county are inhabited with creative, hard-working people who don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk. The results are obvious.