Mountain bikers give new Chelsea trail a spin
Chelsea — With summer just days away, the first five-mile loop of an extend trail opened Thursday at the Waterloo State Recreational Area.
The new DTE Energy Foundation Trail hopes to attract more visitors and boost the local economy, DTE Energy Co. officials said Thursday at a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“It’s very important to have a trail in Southeast Michigan that is cutting-edge and attractive to mountain bikers, runners and hikers,” said Jason Aric Jones, trail project chair of the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association. “The trail gives you a roller coaster feel with varying terrain and slopes that anyone from a beginner to an advanced biker can enjoy.”
Partnering with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association, the DTE Energy Foundation gave a grant of $255,000 to help fund the trail.
The five-mile loop is the first part of a 20-mile trail that will open in 2020 and will cost more than $500,000 to complete. Each five-mile trail will consist of different loops that incorporate local elements of rock and reclaimed wood to create a unique landscape.
Riding a black Trek mountain bike on Thursday, Jeff Thiel of Copper Harbor, rode at his own pace.
“It flows really nicely. I didn’t push it this time, but there are some hardcore bikers out there,” said Thiel, who bikes twice a week. “Michigan’s economy has really suffered in the past and having a trail like this makes a huge impact and helps smaller communities to thrive.”
In the past two years, biking has had an annual economic impact of $668 million including equipment purchases, bike sales, tourism and reduced health cost, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Ron Olson, chief of Parks and Recreation for the Department of Natural Resources, said feedback from Michigan residents helped to make the trail a reality.
“We have been wanting to expand for some years now because there has been a need to have really good trails in the area,” Olson said. “With this partnership, we hope to connect the Pinckney State Recreation Area’s trail and the Huron-Waterloo trail, which we hope will be finished in the next few years.”
Rick Sielicki of Chelsea sped down the last stretch of the dirt road before stopping off to the side to catch his breath Thursday.
“They did an excellent job. I love the five-mile loop. It was very fun and scenic,” Sielicki said. “All ages can appreciate this trail. The layout is different from what I have rode on. I’m looking forward to the next 15 miles.”