Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Department of Natural Resources Director Rebecca Humphries today announced the Musketawa State Trail, located in Muskegon and Ottawa counties, has been designated a National Recreation Trail by the U.S. Department of Interior.
"The designation of the Musketawa State Trail as a National Recreation Trail is an important part of our vision to create a unified system of Michigan trails to connect natural, tourist and urban destinations," Granholm said. "I congratulate everyone who helped accomplish this important achievement for our state."
This paved rail-trail, which provides an accessible connection extending 24.5 miles west from Marne to just east of Muskegon, allows trail users to enjoy a range of landscapes while biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, or simply taking a stroll. It is an excellent example of a four-season recreational trail that passes through and connects the rural west Michigan communities of Conklin and Ravenna.
Existing trails that connect people to local resources and improve their quality of life are eligible for this national designation, which was initiated by the National Park Service in 1971. The National Trails System has now grown to more than 12,000 miles. The Musketawa State Trail joins 22 other trails in Michigan that have received designation as a National Recreation Trail.
The Friends of the Musketawa Trail, a local group of volunteers who have been instrumental in the design, development, maintenance and management of this state rail-trail, nominated the Musketawa for this national designation.
"The planning and development process of this trail is a great model of state and local partners joining together to achieve a common goal and provide an outstanding recreation facility for the citizens of Michigan," Humphries said. "This achievement is the result of the dedication of a very active friends' volunteer organization who worked hard to gain support from local businesses and citizens alike."
The Musketawa State Trail was acquired by the DNR for recreational trail purposes in 1991. Funding for acquisition was provided by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. Its master plan, completed in 1993, included considerable public input. The trail was paved in several phases beginning in 1998 and was completed in 2000. It was the second state trail to be surfaced with asphalt.
Multiple development grants have helped fund the project including money from two federal programs that are administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation and the DNR's Recreation Trails Program. Additional development grants were provided by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and the DNR's Recreation Improvement Fund.
This project was the first major effort by the DNR to develop a trailway partnership with local units of government. The multi-season use that visitors can enjoy is provided by several management partners, including the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission, the West Michigan Snowmobile Council and the Friends of the Musketawa Trail.
The DNR continues to work with the city of Muskegon on the connection of the Musketawa State Trail to the city's Lakeshore Trail. The DNR is in the process of purchasing the final piece of rail corridor necessary to complete the connection of the two trails.
Michigan's diverse and extensive trail system includes more than 6,100 miles of designated snowmobile trails; over 3,100 miles of off-road vehicle trails; more than 3,000 miles of unpaved pathways and public trails serving hikers, mountain bikers, equestrian and cross-country ski enthusiasts; and more than 1,400 miles of abandoned railroad corridors have been acquired, of which 228 miles have been converted to recreational use.