Thursday, 12 April 2012

Chrysler Greenway Rails-to-Trails Pt.1

Fairly near to where I live is a great section of rails-to-trails called the Chrysler Greenway. On Monday of this week I did the section from just past Harrow (entered at Ferris Rd.) through to Kingsville (8.4 miles). First, though, a map:

This shows Essex County (the southernmost part of Canada; Michigan is actually somewhat  north/northwest of us at this point), bounded by Lake Erie to the south, the Detroit River to the west and Lake St. Clair to the north. This map shows the Greenway itself, with a blowup of the trail along the left and bottom of the pic, with distances between points along the way, and the Conservation areas scattered about the county. For perspective, I live kind of between Petite Cote and Crystal Beach Conservation Areas.
The Greenway is overseen by ERCA (our county Conservation Authority), and they have plans in the works for expansions in the future.
I'm kicking myself a bit now that I didn't bring a camera as I'd like to review all of the sections of this system. We have walked and biked many parts of it before, but nothing this systematic.
You can see here that it is a very flat course! It is, after all, a railbed. However, this is also a very flat county!!!!
It was a bright, beautiful spring day when Mike dropped me off at the entry to the trail on Ferris Rd. Monday being a holiday (Easter Monday), I expected to see a lot of people out and about, but I was alone for the first three miles. That section (up to the Arner Townline) is quite beautiful, lined with trees and bushes and going through a lovely woodlot and over a creek (I think now that this "creek" may be the tail end of Cedar Creek, which I kayaked part of last year with the kayak club). There are several interpretive signs explaining some of the local flora and fauna, and the old stone railway mile markers are still intact! Birdsong filled the air and my jacket quickly came off as the sun grew warmer. Fresh air and endorphins kicked in. I saw a fair number of wildflowers, blooming very early this year, including trout lilies and spring beauties. The trailbed itself is hard-packed dirt covered with very fine gravel - very nice to walk on! At about 3.5 miles I came to the entry at the Arner Town line, and there was Mike in our SUV waiting for me! I had stupidly forgotten anything to eat, so we sidetracked a short distance to the variety store/restaurant/gas station located at the Arner and Highway 20 (HIGHLY recommended, if only for the simple but extremely clean restrooms, eliminating using the port-a-potty at the trail itself). After picking up some corn nuts and sesame sticks, off I went again. Mike was set to rendezvous with me again in Kingsville, at the old train station, after going for a visit to Cedar Creek Conservation Area. During the next section, I really began to roll along, feeling very comfortable with my technique and getting a good speed without feeling like I was racing.

Now for a little side note: I am the most fortunate of women in having a husband who not only cheers me on in everything I do, but chauffeurs me around for point-to-point workouts, acts as my roadie for gigs, plans trips and hiking tours and basically puts up with me and my hairbrained ideas and is always there for me. I've known him for 40 years and have been married to him for the past 36 of those...and we're still best friends!

Now back to our regular programming:
There were more people using the trail for the part from the Arner to Kingsville, mostly on bikes. At one point, just as you arrive at the Kingsville town limit, you have to detour around a golf course (you can see the "bump" on the trail map), and the trail is only about 30-40 feet from the road for a very short span before heading back into the blissful roadless track.
The sun began getting dimmer and the air quite a bit colder when I noticed some very threatening low-lying dark clouds. In Kingsville itself, the trail goes through some lovely back yard areas. then through town on a very wide paved "sidewalk" (not really a sidewalk, more if a wide separated bike path) until you reach the train station.  Just as it began to spit, I arrived at the old Kingsville train station, now converted to a very nice restaurant. Mike arrived about 10 minutes later, with a Subway sandwich for me! We ate by the lake and then departed to do some errands.
It was a great walk, and I'm looking forward to my next section of the trail!

Now here are a couple of pics from Mikes' visit to Cedar Creek that day:

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