LANSING (Great Lakes News) – Michiganders have a new opportunity to experience the reason for one of Michigan’s many names: “The Trail State.” Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared the week of September 22 “Michigan Trail Week” earlier this year, with the hopes that more people will enjoy what Michigan’s trails have to offer.
“It doesn’t matter the season, it doesn’t matter where you are in the state, Michigan has your trail,” said Paul Yauk, state trails coordinator with the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “It’s unbelievable the number of trails available across the state. They’re a great resource to help people stay healthy and active, explore history or just have fun.”
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Michigan is home to 12,500 miles of designated trails and has more rail-trail miles than any other state in the union.The trails range from short walks to days-long excursions, with the Iron Belle Trail serving as Michigan’s crown jewel. The Iron Belle trail is the longest state-designated trail in the nation, and features over 2,050 miles stretching from Detroit to Ironwood in the westward tip of the Upper Peninsula.
Michigan Trails Week also celebrates Michigan’s many water trails. According to the website michiganwatertrails.org, a water trail is “a designated route along a lake, river, canal or bay specifically designed for people using small boats like kayaks, canoes, single sailboats or rowboats.” Earlier this year, Michigan designated its first water trails as part of the launch of the Pure Michigan Trails and Trail Towns program. These programs recognized six trails and four trail towns for excellence in marketing and upkeep through community involvement.
“Michigan’s vast and diverse trails system plays a big role in stimulating tourism and encouraging healthy lifestyles for all ages,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation chief. “We deeply appreciate all of our trail partners who are critical to sustaining quality trails throughout the state.”
The governor’s decision to establish Michigan Trail Week came from the community involvement required to maintain and promote a well-kept trail.
“The state’s trail system is the result of a successful partnership between state agencies, local trail groups, local units of government, non-profit organizations, and businesses coming together to connect communities and people,” read Whitmer’s proclamation. “Our state’s trail system plays a significant role in strengthening Michigan’s economy and supporting thousands of jobs and the appeal of communities by boosting quality-of-life amenities that increase property values.”
Michigan hikers can find trails near them by visiting Michigan.gov/DNRTrails.