We rode the Dequindre Cut with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and spoke profusely about how great trails and biking in Detroit were. He repeated that during a radio interview the next day. Two weeks later he announced plans for a cross-state biking and walking route originally called the Showcase Trail. Related? We’re taking partial credit.
Two Routes – One Great Trail
The Iron Belle Trail is Michigan’s showcase trail that touches hundreds of municipalities and crosses through 48 different Michigan counties. Using existing trails, networks and new connections, the trail extends more than 2,000 miles from the far western tip of the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit, with a route of bicycling, and a route of hiking. The biking route utilizes many of the state’s existing bike paths, bike lanes, and signed, designated biking routes as it travels up the east side of the state and across the southern edge of the Upper Peninsula. The hiking route utilizes sidewalks, trails, and more than 1,000 miles of the 4,600-mile North Country National Scenic Trail, the longest federally designated hiking trail in the nation.
The Bicycle Route
Whenever possible, the bicycle route will use existing multi-use trails that have been developed by local units of government, counties, and the state. In the Upper Peninsula, the bicycle route will follow US-2, a designated national bicycling route.
In Detroit, the trail begins on Belle Isle, crosses the MacArthur Bridge and continues on E. Grand Boulevard. It heads east on Kercheval and follows the Conner Creek Greenway north to the city of Warren. This routing is subject to change due to developments along Conner Avenue and elsewhere.
The Hiking Route
Most of the hiking route will follow the North Country National Scenic Trail between Calhoun and Gogebic Counties. The trail traverses the west side of the Lower Peninsula, and borders Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula.
In Detroit, the hiking trail also begin on Belle Isle but heads west once over the MacArthur Bridge. It continues on the RiverWalk before traveling through the heart of Southwest Detroit.
When will it be completed?
More than 70% of both routes (bicycling and hiking) are already completed as of 2019, and partners are working to establish temporary connectors that will be made permanent as resources become available. Federal, state and local units of government are working to complete the trail by acquiring trail easements from willing sellers. Detailed maps showing which segments are complete are available at michigan.gov/dnrtrails
Although Detroit has made great progress on its segments, we think some need to be re-evaluated and improved, specifically the on-road, non-separated bike lanes on E. Outer Drive.
Other segments to be built include:
- The RiverWalk connection to the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle (Construction beginning in 2020)
- The Beltline Greenway
- Re-routing of St. Jean due to the FCA expansion.
- RiverWalk between Joe Louis Arena and the Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park. (Under construction)
- The Southwest Greenway
- On-road biking improvements to Woodmere, Fort Street and Schaefer.