Mich. celebrates 12,500 miles of trails during trails week

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

It doesn’t matter if you’re a hiker, biker, equestrian, snowmobiler, off-roader or kayaker.

From left, Susie Hayes of New Hudson walks with her children Sophia, 6, Callie, 12, Claire, 9, and their dog Millie on the Huron Valley Trail in Lyon Township on April 10, 2017.

Whatever your passion, Michigan has a trail for you.

Which isn’t surprising when you realize Michigan has 12,500 miles of state-designated paths, the most in the nation.

Talk about happy trails.

Michigan is in a bragging mood because Saturday was the start of Michigan Trails Week.

Some events will be held during the week but they’re not the point of the celebration. The point of Michigan Trails Week is to get you off your duff.

Where else can you get some exercise while viewing Michigan beauty and history? said Paul Yauk, trails coordinator for the state Department of Natural Resources.

“Michigan is the place to be,” he said. “Our trails take you to every corner of the state.”

Among the paths are 2,600 miles of former rail lines, which also is the most in the country, the DNR says.

Helping the state blaze all those trails are an army of thousands of volunteers, said the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance.

The Lansing-based Alliance said it depends on thousands of Michiganians to help build and maintain the routes.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood for our organization,” said Bob Wilson, executive director of the alliance.

So where are some of these magical places?

Several are located at Stony Creek Metropark Trails in Shelby Township, said local hikers.

The rustic paths, which vary in distance, include paved trails for bikers and inline skaters. All offer views of the surrounding foliage.

Lynn Rowe of Utica says she goes every week, sometimes more than once.

“It’s my favorite place. It’s so close,” she said.

On the other side of Metro Detroit is the ITC Corridor Trail in Novi. It’s along a transmission path for the ITC electricity firm.

The path provides a link to a trail that runs through the entire city from north to south, said Mayor Bob Gatt.

Eventually the trail will link parks in Novi to ones in Northville, Livonia and Westland, said Hizzoner.

“(It’s) one of Novi’s jewels,” Gatt said about the ITC trail.

For the more adventurous, not to mention strong-lunged, there’s the grand-daddy of them all, the Iron Belle Trail.

This superpowered route goes a circuitous 2,000 miles, from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.

The hiking-biking path runs through more than half of Michigan’s 83 counties, crossing forests, rivers and small towns.

It would take 28 hours to drive 2,000 miles. And how long to walk it? Let’s just say that, by the time you finish the Iron Belle Trail, Michigan Trails Week will be over.


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Twitter: @francisXdonnell