The Paint Creek Trail, which receives over 100,000 visitors annually, was recently named a Pure Michigan Trail by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Paint Creek Trail, which receives over 100,000 visitors annually, was recently named a Pure Michigan Trail by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Paint Creek Trail named one of state’s best trail experiences

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 24, 2023


ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — The Paint Creek Trail was recently recognized by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as the state’s latest Pure Michigan Trail, joining only 10 other designees statewide.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources State Trails Coordinator Tim Novak said Michigan, with more than 13,000 miles of trails, is known as the trails state. Each year, the MDNR and Pure Michigan highlight some of the state’s best trails, over both land and water, through the Pure Michigan Trail Program.

The trails and towns that receive the designation are identified as among the best of the best in the state of Michigan, promoting healthy lifestyles, conserving natural resources and providing a catalyst for economic activity in their communities, according to Novak.

“In order to receive Pure Michigan trail status, trails have to show a commitment to sustainability, economic development, and quality trail experience and maintenance,” he explained.

The award was presented to the Paint Creek Trailways Commission at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in April in Grand Rapids. The designation means the Paint Creek Trail will be incorporated into maps and marketing materials through Pure Michigan, the state tourism advertising campaign, and signage with that branding will be placed at trail locations around the city.

“The Paint Creek Trail is such a well maintained trail — they really do have a commitment to quality maintenance of the trail. It’s very well-signed, it’s easily accessible for users of all types, and it’s just a beautiful trail,” Novak said. “When you think of Michigan trails and what should be a Pure Michigan Trail, it’s about as quintessential as you can get. It’s just a wonderful trail for everybody.”

The Paint Creek Trail is the first nonmotorized rail-trail in Michigan. The Detroit-Bay City Railroad Co. later became known as the Michigan Central Railroad Co. and later still as the Penn Central Railroad. The company abandoned the line in the 1970s and filed for bankruptcy.

The Paint Creek Trail, which opened to the public in 1983, is now part of a regional rail-trail included in the Iron Belle Trail, planned as a statewide hiking and bicycling trail stretching from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.

The 8.9-mile linear trail begins in downtown Rochester and meanders north along the creek to where its headwaters flow out of Lake Orion. The wooded, nonmotorized trail travels along Paint Creek — one of Michigan’s premier cold-water trout streams — and connects to the Polly Ann Trail and Bald Mountain Recreation Area via connector paths. It serves over 100,000 people annually.

“We were really happy that we received designation this year as a Pure Michigan Trail,” said Paint Creek Trail Administrative Assistant Eryn Grupido. “We think our trail really shows the beauty of southeast Michigan as it stretches all along the Paint Creek.”

“With so many wonderful areas in the state to enjoy nature and recreation, we are honored to be recognized and fortunate to have this gem in our backyards,” Paint Creek Trailways Commission Chairwoman Martha Olijnyk added in a statement.

In May, Tom Correll took over as the new manager of the Paint Creek Trail. Correll replaces Melissa Ford, who served as the trail manager for the past five years. He could not be reached for comment on the award at press time.

For more information about the Paint Creek Trail, visit or call (248) 651-9260.