Trail of the Month: July 2001
Musketawa Trail, Michigan
The 'Mighty Musketawa' is the longest paved trail in the State of Michigan, at 26 miles, and it forms an east-west connector from Marne, just west of Grand Rapids to Muskegon and the shores of Lake Michigan.
Acquired in 1990 by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the trail and former rail line boast a colorful history of when trains carried raw goods from the sawmills of Muskegon to the furniture-making capitol of the world, Grand Rapids and fresh fruit from the orchards along Lake Michigan to consumers in the big city. Also famous was the "Doodle Bug", a one-car train that carried passengers back and forth from the city to the shoreline.
Today, the Friends of the Musketawa Trail are what makes the trail mighty. In just 3 1/2 years they turned the trail from a single-track muddy path to the glistening smooth rail-trail it is today. The construction of two scenic overlooks, the overhauling of five bridges, the establishment of a very successful Adopt-A-Trail program, diligent fundraising, and the forging of many new partnerships between the communities were all done through the collective good work of the "Friends".
A climactic event in the Fall of 2000 for the Friends was the "Gold Spike Tour", a bicycle ride to celebrate the completion of paving for the trail's second half. The tour ended with the driving of a gold spike where the two paved sections meet, symbolic of the way the completion of a railroad line would be celebrated in the past. Another important event celebrated the designation of Musketawa as a Community Millennium Trail conferred upon it by the White House Millennium Council.