backroads tiger lily trail

On most any day, weather permitting, a walk on Long Prairie’s mile-long paved Tiger Lily Trail will bring you in contact with art, community gardens, wooded neighborhood streets, wetland and prairie scenery and wildlife. On the fine spring morning we hiked the trail, we started on the south end at Lake Charlotte Beach. Even at 9:30 a.m. the pretty round lake was smooth and blue. A member of the resident loon pair floated quietly just off shore and an osprey dived from high in the sky for fish.

Last summer, our friends Raphaela and Josefina Orozco — along with Maria Cisneros — worked with Mexican artist Abram Burciage to install a mural on the north wall of the old bath house. Abram said the mural represented different elements of our community as well as a challenge to our community’s multicultural youngsters to take responsibility for creating their future together.

In 2017, artist Claire Witt — along with 300 community members — installed a large mosaic on the east side of the same building. The mosaic, called “The Sunflower Over Our Town,” is the ninth of Claire’s Blue Sky Project which she installed around the state in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The mosaic is made up of thousands of pieces of cut tile and mirror which were put in place by the volunteers. With the tiles they created messages of hope like, “One Town” and “Integrated.” The mirrors allow us to see ourselves reflected amongst these hopeful messages.

Going north from Lake Charlotte has the walker passing a meadow which, in summer, is full of flowering milk weed and fluttering monarch butterflies. Further along, the trail rises up from the meadow and passes through a wooded residential area and onto a street. Walkers stay on the street until they come to the community gardens. By summer, many of the plots will be full of sweet corn, sunflowers, tomatoes and tomatillos.

Past the gardens is Harmony Park which, on a sunny spring morning, has a few dedicated power walkers respectfully social distancing and a lively daycare group.

Harmony Park is graced by more of Claire Witt’s community-constructed mosaics. These are in the form of sculpted (and comfortable) concrete benches embedded with colorful mosaics in whimsical patterns. The benches, besides being adorned with mosaics, are flower beds. Although there were no flowers yet in late April, the beds will burst with color by mid-summer.

The trail ends in a parking lot on State Highway 287 near the elementary school.