The White Pine trail is the longest rail/trail system in the state, connecting Grand Rapids (starting in Comstock Park) with Cadillac. It intersects the Pere Marquette trail in Reed City and there are plans for connections to the Fred Meijer Heartland trail and the Musketawa trail. It is a four seasons trail with year-round activities.
Bringing the White Pine Trailhead to downtown Comstock Park took seven years of effort and close to a million dollars on the part of the Comstock Park Downtown Development Authority. DDA member Larry Roelofs called the endeavor an investment in the businesses within the DDA district along West River Drive. “We felt that it would bring increased business into Comstock Park, bring more people to the area, and that has been proven,” said Roelofs. “Before it (the Trail) went along the river and by-passed downtown. “For years people said (the Trail) started in Comstock Park, but that wasn’t quite true til we finished it,” he said. “The part we finished brought it into the downtown area.”
The effort began in 2002 when DDA members began negotiations with the Norfolk Southern Railroad to purchase the abandoned railroad property behind the businesses on West River Drive from Mill Creek Drive to the foot bridge over Mill Creek at what was then Comstock Park Foods. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources already owned property north of the bridge to Fifth Third Ballpark for the trail. The purchase agreement was finalized in 2007. Construction began in 2008, and the new one-mile portion of the trail from Mill Creek Drive to Fifth Third Ballpark was dedicated May 16, 2009. Trail maintenance and lighting is provided by the DDA and the Friends of the White Pine Trail.
FRIENDS OF THE WHITE PINE TRAIL AND VOLUNTEERS
If you are one of the tens of thousands of users of the White Pine Trail between Comstock Park and Rockford, you can thank volunteers like Dave Heyboer for keeping the Trail clean. Heyboer and other volunteers take on everything from plowing the Trail in the winter, to clearing brush and fallen limbs.
Heyboer is chairman and co-founder of the Friends of the White Pine Trail formed in 1997. There are some 700 members as far away as Nevada in the organization that formed to provide trail maintenance, educate trail-users about proper use of the Trail, help secure funding for Trail projects, and promote the Trail. “We’re always needing people to help…take care of the Trail,” said Heyboer, adding that helping can be something as simple as taking a walk along the Trail while carrying a trash bag to pick up rubbish. It all depends on your expertise. And if you are using the trail and see someone in a bright yellow shirt identifying them as a volunteer, remember they are working to keep the Trail clean and ready for you to use, noted Heyboer.
Heyboer, whose many outdoor interests include scuba diving, kayaking, snowmobiling, ATVs and bicycling, was a member of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association, when he heard about the White Pine Trail. Heyboer is passionate about the Trail. “In today’s world, with so many people financially challenged, having a local venue where people can go in a safe environment for a fun time…is why the trails are important,” said Heyboer, a retired General Motors tool and die worker. “It’s a great jewel in our backyard.”
The White Pine Trail is the longest linear state park in the Michigan trail system, beginning in downtown Comstock Park and stretching 93 miles north to Cadillac running through 31 cities, villages and townships.
For more information go to: www.whitepinetrail.com
TRAIL USE AND ETIQUETTE
• Stay to the right except when passing
• Pass slower traffic on the left, yield to oncoming traffic when passing
• Give a clear warning signal when passing - i.e. “Passing On Your Left”
• Travel at a reasonable speed
• Keep pets under control (state law requires use of a leash), and clean up after your pets
• Get off the paved / main trail surface when you stop for any reason
• Do not litter
• Respect private property - stay within the trail right-of-way
• No campfires or camping on the trail right-of-way
• Do not disturb vegetation or wildlife
COMSTOCK PARK TRAILHEAD AMENITIES
• Public Parking
• Bike Racks
• Benches & Picnic Tables
• Restaurants & Bars
• Coffee & Ice Cream
• Free WiFi
• Portable toilets