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Building of North Country Trail begins

Workers began establishing a new portion of the 4,600 mile North Country Trail through our area late last month.

by Carolee Cole

On Saturday, April 21, 30-plus people gathered at the North Country Trail (NCT) trailhead on Red Pine Ave. near the Howard Christensen Nature Center. The weather was ideal for building new trail from the east side of Red Pine Dr. West to Division Ave, within the Rogue River State Game Area. The peepers in the nearby wetland areas were thrilled that spring had finally put in an appearance and sang loudly enough to drown out just common conversation. 

Jim Bradley, Vice President of the Western Michigan Chapter for the North Country Trail Association, headed up the effort. Within the Chapter’s tool trailer, an assortment of unfamiliar tools were brought for volunteers to use. A hoe/axe (pulaksi) style tool did a great job of removing small roots from young brush and trees. A large sort of rake/hoe (McLeod) was used to scrape the ground and break up the top growth. Roughing up and scraping away the top layer of duff protects the trail from regrowth of small plants and roots that would hide the trail while it is being established by walkers. Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus provided a great lunch for everyone at noon and we all rested our weary bones. I even saw one of the smarter workers taking a nap! And then it was back to work. The walk out to the work site was a lot longer in the afternoon than it had been in the morning as we had made good progress earlier in the day. We might have been less productive due to the vigorous workout in the morning, but there was a goal and these volunteers were die-hard trail builders!  

You might wonder what would attract 30-plus people to use the larger part of the first beautiful Saturday in Spring volunteering to work so hard and accrue over 20,000 steps per person. The North Country National Scenic Trail is a 4,600 mile linear National Park and local Michiganders are proud to have it cross through our State. Trail hiking or walking is becoming an increasingly “cool” way to exercise, meditate, build positive internal energy, get outside and experience nature, and it’s a great activity for friends and families to enjoy together. Most housing developments include trails and green space to serve their people. Connecting with a trail that offers an opportunity to get in a real workout, or an enjoyable family picnic outing, without the noise and danger of motorized vehicles, is a huge benefit. 

Cedar Springs is extra proud that we are home to both the NCT and the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park. Both trails cross right behind the Cedar Springs Brewing Company providing our people double the opportunity and the advantage of two very different types of trails all in our own hometown! 

  Over the next few months and years the NCT will continue to be developed in our area. We are looking for citizens living in Solon Township between Cedar Springs and the State Game Area who might be willing to explore opportunities on your property for trail walkers to have access to off road trail. 

There will also be another trail building day on Saturday, May 12. If you have an interest in building trail, providing access, planning a trail activity, or just working with a great group of people, please contact Jim Bradley, jimbradley1033@gmail.com or Kenny Wawsczyk, kwawsczyk@northcountrytrail.org with the North Country Trail Association or Danette Bailey, danetteb@standalelumber.com Chairperson for the North Country Trail effort in Cedar Springs.

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