Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pick Your Trail!

Written by the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance

Michigan, The “Great Lakes State”, is looking for a new title: “The Trail State.” With more than 12,000 miles of trails, Michigan is one of the top trail destinations in the United States. Trails offer opportunities to see “The Mitten” in ways you’d never have thought possible: you’re on the inside, seeing the heart and physical splendor of this great state. You can travel through beautiful forests and around some of Michigan’s 11,000 pristine inland lakes, down one of the scenic coasts, or through quaint towns you never knew existed. They give the opportunity to appreciate nature and are a means of achieving the renewal of body, mind and spirit.

Certain routes are designated for snowmobiling, and others are for equestrian, hiking, biking or a combination of uses. The trail opportunities are countless in a state as diverse as Michigan.  We have short trails, long trails and trails that were transformed from railways to multi-use pathways. Michigan has the most rail-trail miles in the country, even more than other trail leaders Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

"Many people are surprised to hear that Michigan has more miles of rail-trails than any other state in the nation,” said Nancy Krupiarz, executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, “and we encourage them to come out and explore all they have to offer."

More pathways are in the works and more people are recognizing trails as assets regarding recreation and health improvement, transportation options, tourism and economic growth. Since the increase in popularity of trails in the last several years, there has been amplified support from government on every level, from Governor Rick Snyder announcing the first ever Michigan Trails Week in September 2012, trail planning and implementation from regional and local levels, to individual citizens advocating for trails and using them for their recreation and transportation needs. A state-wide trail plan is underway, moving the focus from building individual trails to connecting Michigan through a series of trail networks. The groundwork has been laid for networks of trails, connecting towns to towns, and people to people.

The end goal is to have a truly trail-connected state, where leisure and non-motorized transportation options are around every corner. The “Trail State” title is not too far into the future as trails are helping shape Michigan’s recreational identity. 

Use this link to find all the trails in West Michigan!

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