Take a Hike: Or Maybe You Would Prefer to Ride Your Bike

trailsGreetings friends it’s your old pal JP.  It’s fall in Macomb County, which means back-to-school football, orchards and cider mills, hoodies and pumpkin spice lattes.  (Just a quick editorial note I do not understand the whole phenomenon surrounding the pumpkin spice craze, but hey, I still don’t have a Facebook account so I am probably not the greatest barometer of cool and current.)  Before you fill every moment of your week with the fruits of the season, I want to give you all a heads up about something happening in Michigan this week.  It’s Michigan Trails Week, and with a fantastic weather forecast on the horizon, we think it’s time for all of us to get out and take a walk or go for a roll.

Michigan Trails Week is a statewide celebration in honor of Michigan’s extensive trail network.  The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is partnering with local governments, community organizations, and trail advocacy groups throughout the state to get people out and explore Michigan’s trails.  Information on the state’s events and programs for Michigan Trails Week can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10365_16839_62555—,00.html.  Also the Michigan Department of Transportation has put a whole host of resources for cyclists and pedestrians at http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,7-151-9615_11223—,00.html.

Here in Macomb County we are fortunate to have more than 150 miles of trails.  Many of you probably have a preferred route.  Whether you are taking a stroll with the kids around one of our 180 parks or going on a cross-county ride with a cycling group, we want you to carve out some time this week and get out there. To help plan your excursion, I want to give you a little insight into some of my favorite trail routes around the county.

Freedom Tail – Located on Metropolitan Parkway, the Freedom Trail was Macomb County’s first major non-motorized route. This urban trail connects Freedom Hill County Park to Lake St. Clair Metorpark.  Traversing Sterling Heights, Clinton Township and Harrison Township, the Freedom Trail provides users with direct access to parks and recreation destinations and local businesses. I suggest starting your ride at Freedom Hill then heading east. You can stop at the Randazzo’s Fresh Market for refreshments, and then keep peddling until you see the blue water of Lake St. Clair. Take a look at what our friends at Randazzo’s are serving up http://randazzofreshmarket.com/.

Dodge Park Trail Network – Growing up, one of my favorite parks to go to was Dodge Park in Sterling Heights. Established along the Clinton River, this municipal park is located at the intersection of Utica Road and Dodge Park Road and showcases some of Macomb County’s true natural beauty. With winding paths for pedestrians and cyclists, it is the prefect place for an afternoon picnic, or if you are looking to deviate from your regular running route. For those of you that are thinking about heading over to Dodge Park, do yourself a huge favor and visit Ventimiglia Italian Foods beforehand to grab some goodies for your picnic. Ventimiglia’s is a great local grocer with fantastic sandwiches. It is right in the neighborhood and is worth the trip. Check them out at http://www.ventimigliafoods.com/.

Stony Creek Metropark – This Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority park is one of Macomb County’s premier parks and recreation destinations. With beaches, pavilions, playgrounds, a nature center, and, yes, trails, this is a prime place to get out and explore. Stony has you covered on all fronts. You can start your excursion getting some steps on the famed 6-mile paved loop which is perfect for everything from strollers to rollerblades. Maybe you are looking for something a bit more challenging? No worries, hop on one of the many mountain bike and nature trails that will take you through rough terrain with scenic vistas. Stony is must for trail enthusiasts.

Macomb Orchard Trail – This is by far my favorite trail in all of Macomb County. I know my opinion is biased by the fact that I have lived in Washington Township for most of my life, and this trail has been in my backyard for a while now. However, you cannot go wrong with this incredible trailway. The Macomb Orchard Trail is a 24-mile hike and bike path that traverses eight Macomb County communities. This nationally recognized rails-to-trails project is anchored by historic downtowns, neighborhood retail nodes, local orchards, community parks and some of the most peaceful stretches of trail in all of Michigan. Start your route anywhere. Maybe you want to kickoff at 26 Mile and Mound loading up with snacks at 7-11, and then tuning up your bike at Main Street Bicycles (http://www.mainstreetbicycles.com/). Some of you might want to visit downtown Richmond, and if you do, swing through Hamilton Bicycles and Outfitters (http://www.hamiltonbikes.com/). Also don’t forget about the great pocket parks along the way where you can take a break and soak in the sights.

So get out there. Enjoy the scenery, and see what Macomb County has to offer.

John Paul Rea is an assistant county executive for Macomb County.

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