Clinton River Trail celebrates 15 years of recreation with a host of events

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 6, 2019

 Friends of the Clinton River Trail board member Richard Harrison accepts a $500 check from Kevin Hanson, the co-owner of Hansons Running Shop and the co-founder of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, during a special 15th anniversary kickoff at the Rochester Hills Museum Jan. 29.

Friends of the Clinton River Trail board member Richard Harrison accepts a $500 check from Kevin Hanson, the co-owner of Hansons Running Shop and the co-founder of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, during a special 15th anniversary kickoff at the Rochester Hills Museum Jan. 29.

Photo provided by the Friends of the Clinton River Trail

ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS — The Clinton River Trail is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year with a variety of events for people of all ages.

Spanning 16 miles through Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Pontiac and Sylvan Lake, the Clinton River Trail was once the Grand Trunk Railroad, a branch of the Canadian National Railroad that was abandoned in 1998.

Melinda Hill, a Friends of the Clinton River Trail board member, said the city of Rochester Hills recognized the potential for the abandoned rail line to be repurposed as a multiuse recreational trail, and allocated local funding and pursued grants to be able to acquire 4.6 miles of the abandoned rail line within the city in 2002.

City officials encouraged other communities to acquire and develop their portions of the abandoned rail line, and in early 2004, representatives of all five cities signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to cooperatively operate their segments of the Clinton River Trail.

“From a dream and a vision by a few people back in ’90s to the cities’ acquisition of the abandoned railroad bed at the turn of the century, the notion of one trail, five cities, was born with the 2004 joint signing of the memorandum of understanding,” Hill said. “It’s through this cooperative planning, development, management and maintenance that the CRT has become the wonderful recreational asset it is today for the cities, the region and the state.”

Volunteers with the Friends of the Clinton River Trail are encouraging fishers, hikers, bikers, walkers, birders, canoeists and kayakers to take to the trail this year as the group hosts a variety of events for people of all ages. 

“We have really looked at the entire year as our anniversary year, so we are either organizing or producing or presenting and celebrating about 14 events and programs and fitness activities throughout 2019,” said Gayla Houser, a member of the Friends of the Clinton River Trail. “Our intention is to have events and activities in all of the five communities that the Clinton River Trail serves and runs through during all seasons.”

The Friends group kicked off the 15th anniversary celebration Jan. 29 with a presentation by Kevin Hanson, the co-owner of Hansons Running Shop and the co-founder of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Hanson shared his successful career path, his insight, and his inside perspective on running the trail, running his business and training winning teams. Hanson kicked off the trail’s 15th anniversary with a $500 donation to the organization that supports his training ground. 

On Feb. 17, the Friends of the Clinton River Trail will host a 15th anniversary Winter Walk, Shoe or Ski event. Those interested in hitting the trail will meet up at the Letica Road trailhead, near downtown Rochester, at 1 p.m. The group will proceed west from there, and participants are invited to turn around when they are ready. All participants will receive a Clinton River Trail Mix, courtesy of Kar’s Nuts.

“Winter provides a beautiful backdrop for nature along the trail,” Friends of the Clinton River Trail board member Richard Harrison said in a statement. “Hopefully, the sun will shine too.”

Additional anniversary events this year include: 

Attracting Nature’s Jewels: Hummingbirds at Goldner Walsh in Pontiac April 13.

Cruisin’ for the Trails, a Motor City Brew Tour fundraiser, at the Rochester Mills Beer Co. May 4.

Spring Migration Hike, a birding presentation by the Oakland Audubon Young Birders Club, May 4.

The Friends of the Clinton River Trail 15th Anniversary Celebration Party at River Crest Banquet Facility in Rochester Hills May 22.

The Older Persons’ Commission’s 5K Run & Walk for Meals and Long Ride, a 30- to 35-mile bike ride led by Performance Bicycle, June 1.

The Healthy Pontiac Fit Fest at Beaudette Park in Pontiac June 15. 

A Sears Kit Homes lecture at the Sylvan Lake Community Center June 26.

Short Ride, a 10- to 15-mile bike ride led by Performance Bicycle, July 13.

An Orvis fly fishing demonstration at Lake Norcentra, at Rochester College, July 28.

Long Ride, a 30- to 35-mile bike ride led by Performance Bicycle, Aug. 17.

A fall birding hike led by the Oakland Audubon Society in Rochester Hills Nov. 2.    

For additional information, visit www.clintonrivertrail.org.