Okay, this blog post started out as a round of applause for the Paint Creek Trail in Michigan's Oakland County, which turned 30 this year, was the first rail-trail in the state, and is a true gem of a rail-trail in a state boasting many of them.
But, doing a bit of research, I started pulling the thread of the trails in that part of the world, and the more I did, the more I realized that Oakland County is in fact a pretty amazing story in itself. Within just a few miles of the Paint Creek Trail is a myriad of beautiful (and very useful) rail-trails and greenways - it might have flown under the radar somewhat, but this county has got to be one of the best trail destinations anywhere. All just a short drive from Detroit.
Here's just a few of the many trails in Oakland County worth a visit. Which to choose? It's a good problem to have...
The Huron Valley Rail-Trail: big on natural serenity, smooth and relaxed (right). About 10 miles from the Witches Hat Depot in South Lyon to Kent Lake and Lyon Oaks County Park.
The Clinton River Trail: 16 miles taking in everything from parklands and ponds to downtowns between Keego Harbor and Rochester.
The Polly Ann Trail: 14 miles of relaxed rural scenery around Lake Orion and Oxford Lake in the northern part of the county. Great for skiing in the winter, too.
The West Bloomfield Trail: a nature preserve, community parks, and lakes and wildlife everywhere - what's not to love? Locals came out en masse to celebrate the opening of a new 2.7-mile extension earlier this year (left).
Thanks Kristen Wiltfang at Oakland County for keeping us up to speed with all the great things happening in this neck of the woods. And, Kristen tells us, plans are afoot for even more rail-trail mileage in county - officials are currently looking at a 4.5 mile-section of the old Belt Line railroad for possible acquisition.
In addition to our TrailLink.com links above, there's a good list of trails and greenways in Oakland County at this website: www.michigantrails.us/oakland-county-michigan
For those keen to dive into the rich and fascinating history behind the Paint Creek Trail, here's an excellent video produced to celebrate the 30th anniversary this year!
Get out there, people.