Several nonmotorized trail sections in the works for Crawford County

Sections of Iron Belle Trail and other paths in various phases of development
Crawford County has a lot of trails available for bicyclists and runners and hikers, and more are in the works.
The Crawford County Trails Committee and local officials are working on several trail projects in the area, including sections of the Iron Belle.
“Using existing trails, networks, and new connections, the Iron Belle Trail extends more than 2,000 miles from the far western tip of the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit, with a route of bicycling and a route of hiking. The trail is 71 percent completed,” according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Crawford County Trails Committee members Wayne Koppa and Susan Thiel – after a meeting of the committee on Tuesday, May 2 – said some parts of the Iron Belle Trail that will run through Crawford County, connecting Roscommon County with Otsego County, are finished and others are in various stages of progress.
A crushed limestone path from North Higgins Lake State Park and the CCC Museum runs north to the Fletcher Road area, according to Trails Committee members. A section from the Fletcher Road area to Four Mile Road is in the works, according to the committee.
A paved trail from Kirtland Community College at Four Mile Road to the I-75 Business Loop in Grayling is almost done, officials said. Thiel said it’s possible to ride on it but a few more safety components are being added to parts of the trail in order to complete it.
The City of Grayling is currently working on a connector that would link the Kirtland trail to the Grayling Bicycle Turnpike trail located across the street from Elmwood Cemetery. City Manager Erich Podjaske said the city is currently working with the Michigan Department of Transportation to work through a few “pinch points” and issues with running the connector through the city park, along the railroad tracks, to the area near City Hall, to the Grayling Bicycle Turnpike.
“They have some concerns so we’re trying to work through that with them,” Podjaske said.
Two Iron Belle Trail components – from the Grayling Bicycle Turnpike at Grayling High School to Frederic and from Frederic to Otsego County – are in the planning phases, according to the Crawford County Trails Committee.
“We have a lot of projects we need to get through,” Koppa said.
The Crawford County Trails Committee and the Commission on Aging are trying to secure funding sources for a path to the new Senior Center located on M-72. The committee is hoping to then link the Senior Center to the Rayburn’s hiking area via pathway.
Thiel said “the State of Michigan made Iron Belle a priority during the Snyder administration,” and Crawford County was “conducive” to being a part of the project with its large network of existing trails. Thiel said the Iron Belle “has been a long process. It’s too big to build in one swoop.”
Existing Crawford County trails link Grayling with Hartwick Pines. The committee would like the current trails to link with the Higgins Lake area.
“We’ve successfully constructed the stretch to the high school, to Hartwick Pines. Hopefully within a short amount of time people will be able to bike from Higgins Lake to Grayling to Hartwick Pines,” Thiel said.
Koppa said he would like the area to have a trail system that links the parks at Hartwick Pines, North Higgins, and Otsego Lake. Also, eventually, Koppa said he would like the county to have a trail that goes to the state forest campground at Lake Margrethe.
Koppa said he would like the county to have a trail network in place that would give people “seven days of opportunities here in Grayling where you didn’t have to get in a car” and be able to bike to a variety of locations.
“We are truly a trail town,” Koppa said.
“If you have connectivity, (people) will run through your community,” Thiel said. “It can be a large economic boon to your community.”
The Crawford County Trails Committee is a “group of locals” that was “initially founded by the Chamber of Commerce,” Koppa and Thiel said. 

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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