New connector will link Macomb Orchard Trail with Stony Creek Metropark

This article is part of Inside Our Outdoors, a series about Southeast Michigan's connected parks, greenways, and trails and how they affect residents' quality of life. It is made possible with funding from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

Macomb County is working with Huron-Clinton Metroparks to build a new connector path that would link Stony Creek Metropark with the Macomb Orchard Trail. While Footpath along proposed route (HCMA) there's already a path from Shelby Township connecting the trail to the Metropark, the new 0.2-mile connector would create an easier route into Stony Creek along 26 Mile Road in Washington Township.

Nina Kelly, chief of planning and development for the Metroparks, thinks the connector's proximity to the main thoroughfare of 26 Mile Road will make the park more accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians. 

"You can see on aerial images that people are using this area to connect into the park as it is, but we're going to formalize it with an actual trail," she says. "With the sidewalk on the north side of 26 Mile being really visible, having a trail connector from that location might be more intuitive for folks who are trying to access Stony Creek from the Macomb Orchard Trail."

Metropark engineers have already completed the design for the connector. Macomb County applied for and received a Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation to fund the project. Bidding for the project is expected to begin this fall.

Both Macomb Orchard Trail and Stony Creek Metropark are implementing a number of other upgrades right now as well. 

Macomb Orchard Trail is in the process of replacing trail map signs and installing wayfinding signs to highlight local downtowns and direct users to adjacent trails, parks, restrooms, and other amenities. New trail safety mile markers are also being installed along the trail to assist users and help first responders navigate the trail better in the event of an emergency. 

Stony Creek has been redeveloping its Shelden Trails area with the intent of making it a top-tier destination for a variety of user groups, including mountain bikers, hikers, runners, fat-tire cyclists, and cross-country skiers. At this point, two new hand-cycle accessible trails, totaling four miles, have been added to the system. 

Another half-mile section, including a new pedestrian bridge, is also being added to connect Stony Creek with a new Oakland Township park. Altogether the new additions will bring the Shelden Trails systems up to a total of more than 11 miles. Construction on that project is expected to conclude by the end of the year.
Proposed route of the new connector path (HCMA)

Read more articles by David Sands.