Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pere Marquette Trail Celebration

Pere Marquette Trail Ribbon Cutting
Pere Marquette Rail Trail ribbon cutting in Baldwin (photo by jhy)

by Joan H. Young

The rain held off Saturday, and about 70 people turned out to celebrate the official opening of 17 newly surfaced miles of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, from Baldwin to Reed City. Speakers from the Michigan DNR, Reed City, Baldwin, and several organizations, plus Representative Jon Bumstead, briefly reminded listeners of the value of trails. Pam Simmons (in black) of Baldwin, the force behind this project, cut the ribbon.

Pontiac Light Riders
Pontiac Light Riders (photo by jhy)

Bike decoration was a highlight of the day for kids, but the Light Riders have made it an art form. This group, from Pontiac, Michigan, came with their lighted bicycles, sporting boom boxes, fancy wheels, and colorful accessories. One member told how he had (in a previous year) ridden from Pontiac to Baldwin on a bet, which he won. He declined to have his picture taken, but he shared laughingly the trials he endured being taken seriously as a black man riding a bicycle, even in our day and age.

family bicycling the Pere Marquette Trail
family group riding the Pere Marquette Trail (photo by jhy)

Several non-profit groups/agencies were on hand to share information, including the Manistee National Forest, The North Country Trail Association, Lake County 4-H, and the District 10 Health Department. A drawing was held for prizes, which ranged from a simple bicycle bell to a nice trail cam which could be mounted on a bike. Cake and fruit were served. Soon, people were heading off to enjoy the new packed limestone surface of the trail. More refreshments were available at the Idlewild Cultural and Historic Center, 5 miles away. This young rider was not deterred by his broken arm, which he claimed to have gotten while wrestling an alligator. "I lost," he said with a grin. His grandparents did not dispute his tale.

bicycle basket with flowers
bike decorated with flowers (photo by jhy)

Although most of the decorations consisted of crepe paper flowers, beads and streamers, one person brought more natural decor. What a nice welcome for the people who will certainly find the new trail more pleasant to ride. The new surfacing extends the paved trail to a total length of 53 miles, with connection to the White Pine Trail in Reed City.

Tim Schreiner, of the Michigan DNR, opined that Michigan is already the top trail state in the nation. Certainly, more and more trail connections are being made, and one can bicycle many off-road miles in the state.

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