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Macomb-Orchard trail has grand opening

by Candice Miller on October 13, 2011

By Chad Selweski
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
Paved pathway key component of 70-mile loop
The final, paved leg of the 24-mile Macomb Orchard Trail was formally opened on Tuesday, as jubilant county officials and U.S. Rep. Candice Miller gathered to mark the connection of the hike/bike path from Richmond to Bruce Township.
The county’s premier trail follows the path of the former Canadian National Railroad tracks from Shelby Township through Romeo, Armada and Richmond. The final segment, construction of a pedestrian bridge over the M-53 freeway in Bruce Township, proved to be the most difficult.
That’s where county Executive Mark Hackel, county board Chairwoman Kathy Vosburg, county Commissioner Don Brown, Miller and others gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The trail is the main exercise path of a 70-mile loop around the county that will include well-established hike/bike routes such as the path along Metro Parkway that extends from Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights to Metro Beach in Harrison Township.
The project began in 1998 as nothing more than a drawing on paper proposed by bicycling enthusiasts. Along the way, the trail has benefited from federal funding secured by Miller and the support of the county and municipalities along the way.
When completed, the overall bike loop will connect several parks along the way — Metro Beach, Stony Creek Metropark in Washington Township, Riverbends Park in Shelby Township, and Dodge Park and Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights.
In addition to the parks, the trail offers rural scenery and a trip through the quaint downtown areas of Romeo, Armada and Richmond.
At Metro Beach, trail users can take a break and enjoy a dip in Lake St. Clair. Stony Creek also offers swimming and other diversions. A future section through the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township will offer a view of the lakeshore that the public has never seen.
Officials hope the bike path will attract weekend tourists to Macomb County, with some out-of-town cyclists staying in hotels or eating in restaurants along the route. Advocates say the 70-mile loop will play an integral part in making Macomb County a weekend destination, with a unique trail that is rural, urban, suburban and offers a panoramic waterfront.
In addition,the Macomb-Orchard Trail already flows into Oakland County’s Clinton River Trail and Paint Creek Trail, providing a continuous path from Richmond to West Bloomfield. Oakland County’s Polly Ann Trail, which offers horseback riding through rural countryside heading west to Oxford, may connect to 36 Mile Road in Bruce Township.
Another piece of the Macomb County loop was completed last month on County Line Road in the New Baltimore area. That section will eventually connect Richmond to New Baltimore, Chesterfield Township and the lakefront area of Selfridge.
October 13, 2011

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