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The Bee Branch Trail forms an important connection between the almost thirty-mile Heritage Trail, the crown jewel of the area's trail system, and the Mississippi River and Chaplain Schmitt Island, allowing trail users and local residents alike easy access to the river and parks and other recreational amenities. The trail's namesake Bee Branch Creek was daylighted in 2017, restoring an important waterway for flood control and providing a beautiful new park area at the end of the Heritage Trail. The western end of the separate Bee Branch Trail is accessible via an on-road bike route and sidewalks down Washington Street and 15th Street in Dubuque's charming North End neighborhood.
The beginning of the trail features a small plaza directly across the creek from the railroad tracks. A paved asphalt path, well-lit by frequent lampposts, follows the creek and leads into Pyatigorsk Park just past a series of recently constructed shops. Here, the trail connects to the slightly longer Dubuque Jaycees Trail, which follows the Lake Peosta Channel until it meets up with the Mississippi River. Trail users can also take a narrow path along the bridge over the channel to connect with the Peosta Channel Trail on Chaplain Schmitt Island. Home to a wide range of trails and recreational activities, the island is named for Aloysius Schmitt, a priest from Dubuque who became the first chaplain to die during World War II after helping a dozen men escape from the capsized USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The city has plans to expand the memorial plaza located on the island, adding green space and other improvements, currently scheduled for a summer 2020 completion date.
Parking is available at Pyatigorsk Park on the trail's eastern end, off of Kerper Boulevard and easily accessible from Highway 61/Highway 151. From northbound US 61/151, take the exit for Kerper Blvd. and the parking lot is straight across from the exit ramp. From southbound US 61/151, take the exit for Kerper Blvd. and continue on E 16th Street, then turn right onto Kerper Blvd. and the lot will be on the right side.
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