Celebrate Michigan Trails Week by getting outside and getting on a trail.
Held Sept. 21-28 in the outdoor playground called Michigan, the week pays tribute to the state's 12,000 miles of trails by offering a variety of events - statewide - featuring activities from hiking to biking to kayaking and more.
Locally, a guided hike is planned at Little Presque Isle Recreation Area from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. (Eastern time) Friday. Little Presque Isle Recreation Area recreation area is located on the shores of Lake Superior just 7 miles northwest of Marquette and offers abundant scenic views.
Meet in the parking area at 1 p.m. For more information, call Van Riper State Park at (906) 339-4461.
Additionally, a guided hike will be held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. (Eastern time) Saturday at the Blueberry Ridge Pathway, located 6 miles south of Marquette. For more information, contact Van Riper State Park at (906) 339-4461.
The week culminates on Sept 28, National Public Lands Day, with free entry to all federal and state parks and participating local parks throughout Michigan and the opportunity for volunteerism - the statewide "work bee" - to support and maintain these trails.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day. Access to Michigan state parks normally requires a Recreation Passport; that will be waived on Sept. 28.
The special events, trail maintenance and clean-up opportunities and free admission are made possible by communities and organizations throughout the state in partnerships with the Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Recreation and Park Association, and the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.
"Michigan Trails Week has received amazing local, state and federal support and participation," said Ann Conklin, Michigan Recreation and Park Association chief operating officer. "With all federal and state parks and participating local parks free to the public on National Public Lands Day, it opens up trail access to most everyone. By doing this, it's our hope that many more people will enjoy the exponential benefits of trails."
"It is a week to celebrate the thousands of hours put in by all the friends of the trails groups, agencies and passionate trails enthusiasts throughout Michigan," said Nancy Krupiarz, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance executive director.
This month, Gov. Rick Snyder proclaimed the recreational, health and economic benefits of the state's trail system with his second annual proclamation of Michigan Trails Week.
In his proclamation, the governor states that the trail system provides several billion dollars to Michigan's economy and a low-cost means to improve individual health, which can, in return, reduce health care costs.
"Michigan is a national leader in the number of miles of trails, providing tremendous outdoor recreation opportunities and substantial benefits to the state's economy," said DNR Director Keith Creagh. "From our state's extensive inland water opportunities to more than 3,800 miles of trails used by off-road enthusiasts, Michigan is home to a unique variety and quantity of trails. Trails are resources to be celebrated not just during Michigan Trails Week, but all year long."
The governor's proclamation also pays tribute to the most popular means of enjoying the out-of-doors through trail-related activities, including hiking, walking, snowmobiling, running, biking, horseback riding, paddling, and using off-road vehicles.
Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said whether you're a novice or an expert, getting out on the trails during Michigan Trails Week - and each week afterward - is an important part of staying active and experiencing the state's natural resources.
"Put on your well-worn hiking shoes or experience kayaking for the very first time," Olson said. "Events held during this week are a great match for both the experienced and beginning trail user. From guided trail hikes to trail runs to bike rides and free kayaking programs through Recreation 101, there is something for everyone. Make this the start of your healthy, active lifestyle."
Whether participating in an organized event, or exploring on your own, enjoy Michigan trails this week.