Trail Likely to Become the State’s First Destination Trail, Gaining National Attention
Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance, August 13, 2018
Lansing, MI — The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance recently received a $255,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to help turn the vision of a 315-mile-long destination trail into reality. Michigan Trails will use the funds to continue working with the managers of 28 trails along the South Haven to Port Huron route to provide a unique recreational experience that increases fitness opportunities for our citizens while driving tourism to the region and state.
Bob Wilson, Executive Director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, applauded the vision and foresight of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and indicated that this grant reflects the potential for the new trail to be open by late summer of next year. “From the very inception of this work of ours to help build this trail, the response from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has been nothing but exceptional,” exclaimed Wilson. “We strongly believe creating this destination trail will enhance the opportunities and experiences for everyone living and working along this beautiful and vibrant corridor.”
The grant will specifically focus on efforts that are already underway. Michigan Trails has hosted two statewide trail summits, with a third planned for this fall in Pontiac. Convening trail managers from Van Buren to St. Clair County, signage, maintenance, gap-building, and history-telling have been essential matters of discussion, with a voluntary memorandum of understanding being reviewed by trail managers from the individual trails.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation recognized the trail’s significance and potential to connect communities with diverse and varied interests. “This trail is well aligned with our focus on livable communities, making parks and trails more accessible and connecting communities throughout the region,” explained J.J. Tighe, Director of the Park & Trails Initiative at the Foundation. “This trail will build on the existing momentum, supporting existing trails, building new trails where gaps exist, and supporting the exploration of a management structure that will represent the interests of people along the trail. We are excited to support the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance and their vision of connecting the rich and diverse communities from South Haven to Port Huron.”
The Great Lake-to-Lake Trails Route #1 is a 315-mile-long trail that was initially the vision of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance in 2007. The trail has been built mainly by connecting and growing existing trails and has had the excellent financial support of the state, local communities, and critical philanthropists like Mike Levine of Pinckney. The trail is expected to open in the late summer of 2019 and will officially be opened with a lake-to-lake bike ride in September of 2019.