Monday, 30 April 2012

Paint Creek Trail (Rochester, MI)

For my LD today (the last before TAPER time!), I chose the Paint Creek Trail in Rochester, the first rails-to-trails in Michigan (opened in 1983); it has also been a National Recreation Trail since 2006. We had walked part of this before and vowed to return, so return we did, even though the weather threatened otherwise!

As soon as I got up this morning, I checked the weather and it did not look good! Soon enough, it was raining very hard. However, the hourly forecast on TWC said that there would be a window of opportunity between 11:00 and 2:00, so we took it and ran! Rochester is about an hour and 15 minutes from our house when you count in the border crossing, etc. I was going to start at the Northernmost entry to the trail at Lake Orion. However, once we got there, we could not find the trail, even after asking several people (even at the local bike shop!). After a frustrating time driving around and around, we opted to just go further down the trail and hop on at Kern Rd. [I will be emailing the Paint Creek offices to see what they can do about this!]. My original projected 8.9 miles was whittled down by 1.5 miles!...or so I thought.

The trail itself is quite beautiful, and any rails-to-trails project could learn a few lessons from this one! It is tree-lined, well-signed with many benches, restrooms, etc. The creek is never far from you as you walk, crossing under bridges frequently. As stated earlier, I started at Kern Rd. (see map).

I head off down the open road....

About 1.5 miles into my walk, the heavens opened and it poured! Luckily, I was a Girl Guide in a former life and was prepared! Out came the rainsuit and I was dry and comfortable. The storm only lasted about ten minutes, but I would have been soaked!

Benches were added in very scenic areas, and the creek was fast moving, lively and cheerful sounding.

Areas where fishing was allowed (trout, I believe) were frequent and very well set up.

There were some very amazing properties backing onto the trail at one point: huge house with lots of glass to look over the wooded areas. At one, an antique horse fountain originally from Detroit was placed strategically for any horse traffic along the trail:

Also along the trail were new signs to indicate where the old stone railway mile-markers had stood:

Trilliums, wild geraniums, etc., were in bloom and the many swampy areas were rife with marsh marigolds. Lots of chipper little chipmunks were scuttling about on the path, and goldfinches, robins and cardinals were enjoying the water on the trail.

The path enters Rochester after passing a few parks (Mike was exploring Bear Creek park while I was heading towards Rochester), and, believe it or not, continues to follow the creek through town until it ends at.....The Rochester Mills Brewing Company, my rendezvous with Mike, right on time, as luck would have it, and at 8.04 miles with the added bit through town.

In spite of that bit of rain, (and maybe even a bit because of it), it was a lovely walk and I enjoyed it very much. I also enjoyed the pint of IPA and Michigan Cherry Salad at the end of the trail!

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