Happy National Bike Month!! As the temperature has warmed, I’ve been able to get outside and do some biking (Ethan’s knees have been bothering him so he hasn’t been able to join). It’s definitely more fun riding together, but I have greatly enjoyed riding around Lansing and being outside! And after our Mississippi adventure I knew I had to try to keep my legs in shape and I really didn’t want all of my hard work to go to waste!
Part of what is making my rides so enjoyable is that I can ride on a few of Michigan’s really awesome trails. So far, my rides have taken me on the Sycamore Creek Trail, the Lansing River Trail and the Hayhoe Riverwalk in Mason. I’ve rode on all three of them before, but last year the Sycamore Trail was connected to the Lansing River trail which means I can ride from my house to East Lansing (Frandor Shopping Center), North Lansing (near Old Town) and West Lansing (Waverly and Jolly) all on a relatively flat, paved surface that is away from traffic. I have also rode my bike to a couple of Ethan’s soccer games, which means I have to ride on a few country roads, but I can take the Hayhoe Riverwalk through most of town.
Biking on these trails has some serious benefits, but also a couple of draw backs. I love that they are paved and take you through mostly wooded areas that you can’t see from the roads. They also take you to several parks and are usually a more direct route between towns than if you were to ride on the roads. One of the draw backs I have encountered is that there are times when it is really busy. The trails are multi-use which means people can walk, bike, skate, skate board and walk their dogs. This makes it somewhat challenging in really popular spots because you have to stop and wait and you have to go much slower. Of the rides that I’ve taken, the worst day was Saturday near Potter Park Zoo. The other draw back is that the path can get really bumpy in places where tree roots grow underneath it. Theses areas are pretty small though on the trails that I’ve ridden – most of them are flat and smooth.
We are lucky to live in a state where recreation is so highly regarded and we are lucky that Michigan is willing to put loads of money into recreational tourism. I saw recently that Michigan’s revenue from employment, retail, tourism expenditure, and increased health and productivity related to bicycling is $668 million per year. That’s a really good reason to put money into biking! Michigan has around 2,500 miles of trails and about 1,300 miles are bike specific. How awesome is that?! We also have a pretty extensive network of rail trails that allow people to enjoy some of Michigan’s amazing landscapes and scenery on flat, paved or gravel trails. The rail trails are basically refurbished rail road corridors that are no longer in use by railroad companies. They make for really nice trails because they are flat and the trees have already been cleared along the corridor.
Recently, a rail trail was opened that runs 41.3 miles from Ionia to Owosso call the Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawasee Trail. Other rail trails include the Fred Meijer Heartland and Flat River Trails that run between Grand Rapids and Alma and the North Central and Eastern Trails that run from Mackinaw City to Alpena and Gaylord. We rode the North Central and Eastern trails on our very first bike tour. It was really hard with all the stuff on our bikes since the trails are gravel, but we enjoyed the scenery. We were planning on riding the Clinton-Ionia-Shiawasee trail to train for our upcoming trip, but Ethan’s knees are still bothering him and we realized we have a lot to do before the trip!
If you’re interested in riding on any Michigan’s amazing trails check out the below sites to get more information:
For online maps of trails across Michigan and the US visit the Rails to Trails Conservancy site. You have to sign up to see the maps, but it’s free for basic usage. Paid memberships give you access to more features, but it’s not necessary.
For Michigan specific information on biking visit the Pure Michigan site.
To look up Michigan trails and get maps of all the trails in both peninsulas visit the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. They also offer trip ideas and they host the Michigan tour series, which offers bikers several van-assisted tour options for pretty reasonable prices.
The Michigan Department of Transportation has maps that you can view online as well as purchase for $5.
Our RISE Across America tour is exactly three weeks away! Eeeeeeeek! We are getting excited and nervous and are feeling all the feelings! Stay tuned as we prepare for 3,100 miles!