Mountain bikers and nature lovers all over the region are looking forward to the proposed opening of a new 47 mile long trail that is currently being considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The project would bring millions of dollars in development and tourism to Western Michigan.
Most tourists spend their time on the shores of Lake Michigan, but there are thousands of smaller (and quieter) lakes and rivers that crisscross the state. This proposed project would encircle a section of the Muskegon River behind the Hardy Dam. The waterway resembles a dragon, so developers have dubbed it the Dragon Trail.
“There are other trails that are this long, but very few are circular, fewer go around a body of water and none of them that we could find go around a body of water that’s undeveloped,” said Ryan Coffey Hoag, a land use educator at Michigan State University Extension who’s involved in the project to the Detroit Free Press. Boosters see this project as a potential draw for people all over the region. Events that require a lot of space could bring millions of dollars to the area. Tri-athletes, ultra-long distance trail runners, and cyclocross competitors are eager to see this project move forward.
The proposed trail would wind its way past campgrounds, boat launches, and marinas – but no houses or other development. A truly wild trail of this scope would be a rarity in an area more closely associated with farming and vacation homes. Construction approvals are still being sought, but the hope is that work can begin for the trail to open by 2022.