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Puri Path Completes Loop of Trails at Rock Cut

(RRStar, Oct, 4, 2007, Zack Creglow)- The mile-long walkway may bear his name, but Sunil Puri had a hard time finding it Wednesday in the 3,100-acre Rock Cut State Park.


But Puri, president of First Rockford Group, finally ambled up to where a group of local politicians was waiting to dedicate the path, complaining of being lost in the wilderness.

“I’m the one lost the most,” the amiable Puri said, drawing a laugh.


Signs identifying the walkway will be installed later this fall, Puri said. There are two ways to find the new pathway — one from the Illinois 173 entrance and the other from the Harlem Road entrance.


Puri, after his trek, suggested the latter route.


As inconspicuous as it is, regional leaders believe the walkway will make the state park a greater destination for out-of-towners as well as locals.


“This park is one of the Rockford region’s crown jewels,” said David Preece, director of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This only helps increase its accessibility and usability.”


With more plans to improve the pathway system in the park and across Northern Illinois on the horizon, Puri called the scenic walkway “the beginning of the story.”


The $100,000 Puri Path, built this summer, connects two other trails in the park, making what Puri called a “4.5-mile loop” for hikers, bicyclists and horse riders to use.


The path connects with the 15-mile-long Perryville Path and will eventually lead to Long Prairie Trail, a 14.6-mile-long walkway a few miles east of the state park.


“These incremental improvements keep helping the park improve, and attendance just keeps going up and up,” said Dan Riggs, the superintendent of Rock Cut.


Puri said people relocating here are doing so, in large part, because of the natural beauty of the Rock River Valley.


Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen agreed, saying that outdoor recreation is vital in growing the region.


“This is something we have to continue if we are going to grow and prosper,” Christiansen said.

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