Where can you go to experience one of the largest freshwater deltas in the world, known as the St. Clair Flats? Where can you go to see ten islands – six of which are Canadian Walpole Island First Nation, connect to two state parks and fourteen Great Lakes beaches? The Bridge to Bay Trail in St. Clair County!
St. Clair County’s Bridge to Bay Trail is a non-motorized trail system that provides exceptional visitor experiences through scenic waterfront communities and rural countryside views. There are short downtown loops within the longer loop, access to in-water paddling trails, and even a link to a ferry, creating many options.
Hugging the shores of Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, and Lake St. Clair, the Bridge to Bay Trail is a combination of bike lanes, paved shoulders, rail trail, and separated side paths that connect 54-miles from Lakeport State Park to Algonac State Park, and soon will provide links to Macomb County’s Macomb-Orchard Trail and Michigan’s Great Lakes-to-Lakes Trail.
Advancing recreational opportunities has long been a priority for St. Clair County. The Bridge to Bay Trail was founded in the early 1990’s by the St. Clair County Parks and Recreation Commission with completion of 28 miles. Recently the Bridge to Bay Trail received a boost of $1.55 million from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to connect and complete gaps to the existing trail system. When successfully completed, another eighteen miles of trail will be added.
Linking Trails and Natural Resources
Balancing recreational access and natural resource protection can be challenging for watershed organizations, but a topic we have not shied away from. Protecting ecosystem health remains our goal, while helping communities find added economic value that results from giving residents access to recreation. Everyone wins when communities take pride in providing access to healthy rivers and green spaces.
Blending Stewardship with Recreation
Land and water trails are a meaningful way we engage residents in stewardship because they provide tangible connections to the intangible, like environmental conservation and quality of life. How can we be sure we’re balancing a quality trail system with sensible natural resource care? We must make sure our trails are sensitive to natural and cultural resources, are economically sustainable, reflect social responsibility, and are safe and comfortable to all ages and abilities. Reflecting on 2020, a year of cancellations, it was clear one thing was not cancelled – our connection to nature. With the rising role of outdoor recreation as an economic driver, we must find balance with community and resource manager needs.
Happy trails to you!
Sheri is an avid cyclist and regularly takes her young daughters on 20 mile biked rides on the Bridge To Bay Trail to go to the beach, get ice cream or just to go exploring. One of her favorite summer activities is getting her family on their bikes and riding to dinner.