In Michigan, four-season motorized and nonmotorized trail recreation is the name of the game.
Whether you’re into hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, off-roading or paddling, there are 13,400 miles of state-designated trails waiting for you. And, that number doesn’t account for the thousands of miles of local, county and federal trails in Michigan.
“Historically, trails have connected people to places they want or need to go. In fact, the state’s first roads were Native American trails,” said Tim Novak, state trails coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division. “Today, Michigan’s trails network connects people, communities and places of interest, while providing stellar outdoor recreation opportunities, health and wellness benefits and transportation options.”
Michigan Trails Week is an annual effort to shine a light on Michigan’s vast trails network and elevate the resources and opportunities that continue to build our reputation as the Trails State. This year, Michigan Trails Week runs Sept. 18-25.
Treat yourself to trails
The DNR encourages Michiganders to pay tribute to and enjoy Michigan’s extraordinary trails system during these eight days – and get some inspiration for trail treks all year long!
It can be as simple as finding a new trail adventure, revisiting a favorite route, sharing a photo or memory with a friend or making it social. Follow MiStateParks on both Facebook and Instagram for ideas on making the most of Michigan Trails Week.
Lend a hand
You can also show your love for Michigan trails by helping keep them in the best shape for everyone to enjoy safely. More than 150 DNR-associated volunteer groups hold trail workdays throughout the year. Volunteers help with brush removal, sign installation and maintenance, general trail cleanups, snow grooming, dirt grading and even grant writing.
Interested in getting involved? For ORV or snowmobile trail volunteering, contact Jessica Holley-Roehrs at HolleyJ1@Michigan.gov. For nonmotorized trails volunteering, contact Tim Novak at NovakT8@Michigan.gov. Please put “VOLUNTEER” in the subject line.
Trails Week is also a good time to direct support to your favorite trail or toward project goals within a specific category such as water trails, snowmobile trails or ORV trails – it all helps to elevate the hard work of our volunteers and trail partners.
2022 trails news
As part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan, a total of $250 million in federal relief funding was made available to the DNR to help address its long list of critical needs in Michigan state parks and trails. This includes $37.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for trails projects across the state, the majority of which will be announced in the near future.
Just last week, the DNR was one of four partner agencies signing onto a Binational Trail memorandum of understanding to guide development and promotion of cross-border trail tourism experiences on both sides – Windsor and Ontario – of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, set to open to traffic in 2024. Much of the promotion will center on the nonmotorized transportation (cycling and walking) infrastructure features of the new bridge, as well as opportunities to encourage conservation, healthy living and better quality of life.
A new, comprehensive statewide trails plan – built around the concept of “explore, connect, sustain” – provides a framework, over 10 years, for the DNR’s management of more than 13,400 miles of state-designated motorized and nonmotorized trails and pathways. The 2022-2032 Michigan DNR Trails Plan recognizes the evolution of diverse trail opportunities statewide, balances the many priorities placed on public lands and waters, and identifies key goals toward ensuring the relevance and quality of the state’s trails network.
Three trails communities were recognized as Pure Michigan® Trail Towns. The city of Big Rapids, the city of Cadillac and the village of Elk Rapids received this designation for offering quality trail experiences that rank among the best of the best in the state.
Many trails are built on abandoned railroad corridors and are fondly known as “rail-trails.” Michigan just happens to have more miles of these linear – and often longer – trails than any other state. This year, the Michigan History Center’s Heritage Trails Program finished installing 11 signs interpreting the natural and cultural history along the Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park, a 34-mile rail-trail in Livingston, Ingham and Jackson counties.
The Iron Belle Trail, the longest designated state trail in the nation, is 71% complete. Using existing trails, networks and new connections, the trail extends more than 2,000 miles (along two separate hiking and biking routes) from the far western tip of the Upper Peninsula in Ironwood to Belle Isle in Detroit.
No matter how you plan to enjoy Michigan Trails Week – walk, run, paddle or ride – get started at Michigan.gov/DNRTrails.