Trails and Tales
Mark your calendars! Next week is Michigan Trails Week, and whether you live in Michigan or not, it’s a fine time to get out for a stroll, a hike, a run, or a bike ride.
In a state with 13,000 miles of state-managed trails, thousands more miles of local, county, and federally managed trails, and more rail-trail miles than any other state in the nation, you might think the addition of one more trail would be no big deal.
Not so in Newaygo and Mecosta Counties, where the opening of the first segments of the Dragon Trail is creating a buzz. Once complete, the 47-mile loop will encircle 4,000 acres of Hardy Pond, with thirteen scenic overviews. While some portions of the trail are specifically designed for mountain biking, others are wider, with longer sight lines more conducive to both hiking and biking.
Ray and I tried out one of the recently-opened segments on a sunny day a few weeks ago. A number of other hikers and cyclists had the same idea, but we found it easy to maneuver around one another, even at social-distancing lengths.
We hiked the section that runs south from Sandy Beach County Park to the Hardy Dam marina, an easy stretch for sauntering or stepping up the pace.
One delightful feature of that section of trail is a series of postings of laminated pages from a children’s book about a boy and a dragon, The Knight Who Said NO! by Lucy Rowland and Kate Hindley. With or without a youngster in tow, the story is a fun read, and the illustrations enchanting. Plus, if you need to catch your breath, you can always pretend to be stopping just to read the next installment.
In honor of Michigan Trails Week, the Department of Natural Resources is sponsoring a challenge. The goal is for Michiganders to collectively log 100,000 miles on state, local, county or federally managed nonmotorized trails between September 20 and 27. There’s no fee to participate, and participants will be entered into a drawing for outdoor gear and Michigan-branded prizes.
And you earn badges! I think they’re virtual, so you probably can’t sew them on your hiking vest, but you can still glory in the achievement. You earn the first badge simply by registering for the event and logging at least one mile.
Then you get another badge each time you:
Horseback ride for 5 miles
Walk, run or hike for 5 miles
Bike for 10 miles
Paddle for 2 miles
For more information on Michigan Trails Week and to sign up for the challenge, visit Michigan.gov/TrailsWeek.
9/16/2020 06:51:57 am
Thanks for bringing this big event to our attention even if we do have lots of trails. Sounds like a delightful hike and the story along the way is a fantastic idea. I had no idea our state is #1 in the country for the number of rail-trail miles. Now that's something to brag about!
9/16/2020 08:36:21 am
We do have a lot to appreciate in this state!
9/16/2020 07:12:31 am
Michigan is the fall is so beautiful! I miss all the colors.
9/16/2020 08:36:57 am
The colors miss you, too, Valerie, and so do we. Hard to believe it's been almost a year since you were here.
9/16/2020 09:43:40 am
Can't help being envious as our air quality hovers somewhere between "Unhealthy" and "Hazardous"!
9/17/2020 12:44:43 pm
It must be horrific, Laurel. Wish we could send you some of our air.
9/17/2020 12:46:25 pm
If you've never been to Michigan, especially the west side and northern parts, put it on your list!
Sally F Pobojewski
9/16/2020 02:04:19 pm
There are few places better than Michigan for hiking. I am glad you and Ray are out there burning up the miles!
9/17/2020 12:47:17 pm
I'm not sure we're burning up the miles, but we're enjoying our walks.
9/16/2020 03:40:08 pm
Enjoyed the info on our new trail. We need to check it out.
9/17/2020 12:47:41 pm
Yes! I think you'll enjoy it.
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Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.