Guest post authored by Kathryn Bradbury, Waterloo State Recreation Area
The new DTE Energy Foundation Trail, which opened its first 5.2 mile loop in the Waterloo State Recreation Area in June, was recently voted “Best Beginner Mountain Biking Trail in Michigan” by Singletracks Magazine. This is exciting news for many of us who have worked so hard to get the trail built and who ride or run it often. It is also not surprising, as every day since the trail‘s grand opening, we’ve seen our parking lot full and young kids, families, seniors, newbies, and riders and runners from out of state – and even Ontario – out on the trail. In fact, the trail has been so successful that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is already looking to increase the size of trailhead parking!
Singletracks was sure to point out that the new trail is sustainably built. For runners and riders, this means that after a rain, even a heavy rain, it’s good to go after a few hours – not days or weeks like some of our other trails. Even better, there is more trail to come! Nearly 20 miles to be exact! The Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association, a chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association, has an unprecedented operating agreement with the Michigan DNR to develop, build and maintain four more loops of sustainably built, multi-use/mountain biking optimized trail in the Waterloo State Recreation Area.
The first loop, Green Lake, has proven to be a much needed addition to the mountain biking options in Southeast Michigan. Any time of the day in the summer or early evening during the school year, you can hear youngsters squealing with delight as they ride their bikes over the table tops and around the nicely bermed corners. Searching for points of interest on the trail map, such as the deer skull mounted on a tree, the beautiful, locally sourced locust bridge or the log climb and rock garden, brings added fun to the experience!
This winter, many riders will get their first taste of mountain biking in the snow. Weather permitting, the Potawatomi MBA will be grooming the Green Lake loop for fat tire snow biking. Using a grooming tool, the snow is packed and channeled into a smooth, ridable pathway that will function for cross country skiing as well.
The next loop, Big Kame, is under construction and expected to open in the spring with another four miles of trail. This section offers higher elevation and more technical challenges, taking the trail toward the intermediate level. Once the entire project is finished, there will be something to challenge every level of cyclist and trail runner! The DTE Energy Foundation Trail will eventually connect to the Potawatomi mountain biking trail in the Pinckney State Recreation Area, giving Southeast Michigan one of the longest single track trails east of the Mississippi!
“The DTE Energy Foundation is proud to provide the support to make this trail possible and offer a beautiful green space and healthy recreation to Michigan residents,” said Faye Nelson, vice president, DTE Energy, and board chair and president, DTE Energy Foundation. “The trail will continue to attract visitors and support the local economy throughout the year in Michigan.”
For more information about the DTE Energy Foundation Trail visit dtetrail.org.