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Tag Archive | "National Scenic Trails"

North Country Trail to run through area


Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

By Judy Reed

It’s no longer a question of “if” the North Country Trail will run through Cedar Springs—it’s only a question of exactly where.

Representatives of the Community Building Development Team, the City of Cedar Springs, Solon Township, National Park Service, North Country Trail Association and Michigan DNR met last Thursday for the signing of the document solidifying the North Country Trail route through Cedar Springs.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

“Cedar Springs is now home to a State Trail (White Pine Trail) and a Federal Trail (North Country Trail) crossing each other in our town, and we have a National Park that runs through town and through Solon Township out to the Rogue River State Game Area! It feels so good to have achieved this milestone!” said CBDT secretary Carolee Cole.

The North Country Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails, and stretches 4,600 miles, across seven states, from the New York/Vermont state line, to North Dakota. It is the longest of the 11 trails.

An optimal location review was done to connect the National Country Trail from the Russell Road and White Pine Trail intersection, to existing trail off Red Pine Drive in the Rogue River State Game area. The review noted that points of interest along the trail route include Long Lake County Park, Howard Christensen Nature Center, Duke Creek, Cedar Creek, Solon Township Hall and the park they are planning, and the City of Cedar Springs, with the planned boardwalk along Cedar Creek and other attractions. Several alternative routes were mapped.

The new part of the trail will be approximately seven miles long. But the exact route is not yet established since easements have to be obtained before the trail is officially certified.

However, certain sections of the trail may not be certified. “At this time the trail will not be able to be certified on the White Pine Trail, as the trail can only be certified in locations that are free of motorized vehicles,” explained Cole. “The Michigan DNR is in the process of approving the possibility for a parallel walking trail that could then allow the trail to be certified. It’s not unusual to have parts of the trail all along the route remain uncertified because a section must share with a motorized trail.”

So what’s next? “Well, a lot more work!” said Cole. “We have to secure easements (talk to people), then build the trail (clear a narrow, hiking only trail to certain specifications) and then maintain it (be willing to go out after a wind or ice storm and clear debris). So we need more people to get on board. A lot more people to get on board!”

If you would like to contribute to this piece of history in Cedar Springs, please contact Amy Anderson at a2andy@yahoo.com and let her know you would like to help with the creation of the North Country Trail.

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North Country Trail to travel through area


N-North-Country-Trail-logo

By Judy Reed

The North Country Trail, one of 11 National Scenic Trails, is one step closer to passing through the Cedar Springs and Solon Township areas, and Cedar Springs is one step closer to becoming a National Trail Town.

Mark Weaver, of the National Park Service, and Superintendent of the North Country Trail, presented a memo of understanding to representatives from the two communities Tuesday evening, at the Community Building Development Team meeting. Mayor Jerry Hall received it for Cedar Springs and passed it on to City Manager Thad Taylor, and Supervisor Bob Ellick received it for Solon Township.

The North Country Trail stretches 4,600 miles, across seven states, from the New York/Vermont state line, to North Dakota. It is the longest of the 11 trails.

From left to right: Mark Weaver (Superintendent of the North Country Trail), Luke Jordan (intern with the National Park Service who has actually hiked the entire trail), Andrea Ketchmark (NCTA In Lowell), Charles Vannette (president West MI Chapter NCTA). Photo by Tom Noreen.

From left to right: Mark Weaver (Superintendent of the North Country Trail), Luke Jordan (intern with the National Park Service who has actually hiked the entire trail), Andrea Ketchmark (NCTA In Lowell), Charles Vannette (president West MI Chapter NCTA). Photo by Tom Noreen.

The Community Building Development Team began working with the North County Trail Association and National Park Service last summer on the possibility that it could come through the area, and has outlined possible routes.

Weaver explained that the National Park Service would be the arm responsible for planning the trail by doing the optimum location review. “We will inventory all the cool stuff in the area and start gathering information on the 30th,” he said, referring to the National Trail Celebration Day at Long Lake Park, on May 30, from noon to 4 p.m., where residents can give feedback on what cool and interesting features in the area that people should see. There will also be maps available. (More info on that at the end of story.)

After the celebration, they will begin to sift through the feedback they get, and figure out which sites would best be featured on the trail.

“We look at the scenic, cultural and historical qualities of an area, and try to connect that in as many ways as possible,” explained Weaver. “The North Country Trail is a collection of stories. There may be a lot of cool sites that have nothing to do with the people and their history, or their culture. We are telling the story of your community.”

He said they would then look at all the issues, come up with three alternate routes, and then decide on the best one. And just because certain cool features in the area might not make the cut, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be accessed by a loop off the trail. “This could help your community identify other places for trails. Loops create of richness of experience,” he explained.

Weaver noted that the White Pine Trail would be considered, along with others in the area, and that they would not strong arm anyone into selling property. “We work with willing sellers and public lands,” he said. “The lines on the map are a guide; it sets the general direction for the way we are going. It sets the stage, rather than writes the script.” He also promised that at every milestone in the planning process, they would come back to the community. He hopes that they will have the plan completed this summer.

Also on hand was Luke Jordan, an intern with the National Park Service, who has walked all 4,600 miles of the trail; Andrea Ketchmark, of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) in Lowell, and Charles Vannette, President of the West Michigan Chapter of the NCTA. The NCTA is responsible for maintaining the trail, and designating the National Trail Towns. A Trail Town is a community through which the North Country Trail passes that supports hikers with services, promotes the Trail to its citizens and embraces the Trail as a resource to be protected and celebrated.

“We are definitely committed to Cedar Springs being a North Country Trail Town,” said Ketchmark. She later noted that the only way to get the trail done is by communities being involved, and that with the determination she saw in that room Tuesday night, it wouldn’t be a problem.

To give your input and to have some fun, come out to the National Trails Day Celebration at Long Lake Park in the pavilion, 13747 Krauskopf NE, Sparta (south off 17 Mile Road), from noon to 4 p.m. There will be hot dogs, ice cream, a petting zoo, games, music, popcorn, face painting, identification of medicinal plants, history of logging in Northern Kent County, a guided hike on the North Country Trail at 3 p.m., and a ham radio demonstration.

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