White Pine Trail paving is underway

Tony and Pam Teunissen use their tandem trike on the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail to travel across Michigan. Paving the trail between Reed City and LeRoy will make activities like this easier for visitors to the trail. (Pioneer photo/Taylor Fussman)

REED CITY — Visitors to the Fred Meijer White Pine trail can look forward to a smoother ride as more than 11 miles of the trail from Reed City to LeRoy is being paved with asphalt.

Scott Slavin, Cadillac District recreational trail specialist with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said the paving of this section of the trail began on May 21, and work on the southern four miles, closest to Reed City, starts today.

According to Pure Michigan’s website, this trail consists of an 88-mile open section from Cadillac to Grand Rapids. Several sections along the trail are currently paved with asphalt, including 15 miles from Cadillac south to LeRoy, another 13 miles from Reed City to Big Rapids and 22 miles from Sand Lake to Grand Rapids.

The remaining sections of the trail are surfaced with hard packed gravel and natural ballast, a gravel-type surface produced from natural deposits of granite, limestone and other materials.

Slavin explained in previous years an effort to make the entire trail user-friendly, the non-asphalt sections of the trail were paved with this more cost-effective option.

He said although limestone was a good option, as it packs down reasonably well, repaving with asphalt will make the trail easier to use for more people, such as those with road bikes, people who need a safer and more even walking surface due to physical limitations or people who simply want a smoother walking surface.

“We are paving it because the public wants a better surface for walking and biking,” Slavin said, adding this plan will hopefully provide visitors to the trail a better quality experience.

The asphalt paving project will cost approximately $2.4 million, Slavin said. He explained the funding for the DNR to complete this project came from multiple grants and donations, including fundraising efforts from state representatives and some donations from private individuals.

David Heyboer, chairman of Friends of the White Pine Trail, a volunteer organization committed to fully developing the White Pine Trail, said the asphalt will be an improvement because the limestone was not a user-friendly surface.

Heyboer explained the Friends of the White Pine Trail, which continuously has volunteers work along the trail to maintain and improve the experience for visitors, had discouraged paving with limestone originally, and were hopeful the DNR would eventually pave the entire trail from Grand Rapids to Cadillac with asphalt.

“We are very happy that the paving has happened from LeRoy to Reed City,” Heyboer said. “Once it’s done, the use will be phenomenal.”

Slavin said at this point the DNR has started to put in grants to raise money to pave the final miles of the While Pine Trail in asphalt.

He added making the trail more accessible can be economically beneficial for communities along the trail because people will be able to safely travel further down the trail, making it easier to reach different communities. This can benefit these communities if they use the trail to promote different events and attractions within the area.

Slavin said the trail between Reed City and LeRoy should be completed by the beginning of August, connecting Big Rapids to Cadillac entirely with asphalt.

“We’re really happy to provide this to the community,” Slavin said.

Leave a Reply