Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 27, 2013

Groups consider trail network expansion around Traverse City

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Recreational trails could soon connect the Grand Traverse area to Charlevoix and beyond.

Several community groups want to link Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails with the Little Traverse Wheelway trail, which starts in Charlevoix and continues through Petoskey to Harbor Springs. The connector trail would originate in Acme and run through Elk Rapids and Eastport in Torch Lake Township, based on tentative plans.

Julie Clark, executive director of TART Trails, said the project will require collaboration between municipalities, recreation organizations and landowners willing to connect gaps in the trail networks.

“This is not a top-down approach,” Clark said. “This is a bottom-up approach based on the community working together,” Clark said.

Many municipalities along the proposed connector, like Elk Rapids, already have trail networks in place. Elk Rapids is located along the U.S. 35 bike route, and the town encourages bikers to use trails that run through downtown.

“We’re ready here,” said Misty Youngson, Elk Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce executive director. “We’re just waiting to get the north and south connected.”

Youngson acknowledged the connector project is an ambitious goal that requires piecing together what trail goers want and what land is available for use. She did not know when it will be completed.

“I’d like to say tomorrow, but it’s not going to be that easy,” Youngson said.

Groups involved in the project will meet today at 3 p.m. at Torch Lake Township Hall.