Berry Junction Trail- Connection in Progress

July 5, 2012

An additional eight miles of multi-use trail now extend south from the terminus of the Hart-Montague Rail Trail in Whitehall. This is the Berry Junction Trail, following the line of the former Chicago and West Michigan Railroad where Berry Junction was a real location on the railroad that linked Whitehall and Fremont.

This new section was opened August 20, 2011, and the pavement is smooth and enjoyable to ride. Currently, it ends abruptly at McMillan Road, but the goal is to continue seven more miles to connect with Muskegon’s Lakeshore Trail, then to the Laketon Trail, then to the Muskatawa Trail and Grand Rapids. There are a few short segments missing that can be connected on roads.

The price tag for the eight miles was $800,000. (Side note, that’s the entire yearly budget for the North Country Trail Association, which is trying to maintain 4,600 miles of trail.) How do expensive paved trails get built? Usually with the help of grant money, and this trail is no exception. Like for so many Michigan Trails, the Fred Meijer Foundation stepped in. However, they require name recognition, so officially, it’s the Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail.

I rode this section last week, and it was extremely pleasant. Leaving the White Lake Library (the trailhead) the trail angles east to return to the old railroad right-of-way. The first attraction is an art construction at the very first road crossing. This is called Flowers Heaven Scent, and is a metal flower garden made by artist Stan Policka. This is a part of the Art Walk, a whole series of sculptures and construction located throughout Whitehall.

Once the trail crosses White Lake Road it turns south and follows the straight and level rail line.

However, the route is moderately shaded, particularly in the morning and late afternoon/evening. About six miles into the ride, at the Whitehall Road crossing, you are just 700 feet from the entrance to Michigan Adventure Amusement Park. The best part of this for trail users, is that the wood roller coaster, Shivering Timbers, makes a sharp turn right next to the trail. One can watch riders dip and twist, screaming, as their car passes this point.

Nature lovers will have plenty of “green stuff” to see, although there’s not a lot of diversity. I did find Michigan Lily and Spreading Dogbane in bloom last week.

There are no services on this section, so if you want a snack or a cold drink just ride north into Whitehall a short distance at the north end.

The wide, smooth and level trail is a great options for families, and a 16-mile round trip is not too strenuous for kids, except perhaps the youngest riders.

For info on the Hart Montague Trail see http://www.getoffthecouch.info/oceana/railtrail.htm

For info on the Berry Junction Trail see http://www.traillink.com/trail/fred-meijer-berry-junction-trail.aspx

 

Legally Speaking: Consent to search

Betten Baker Ford

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