A new trail connection plan in Lyndon Township


Some changes are expected to come to Park Lyndon.

A project called the “Park Lyndon DNR Trail Connection” is planned for the park that is located off of North Territorial Road in Lyndon Township. 

The park is part of the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation system, and it has a north and south area.

A presentation about the project was given to the Lyndon Township Board at its May 10 meeting. The township board heard from representatives of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation.

The Sun Times News first heard of the plan through the meeting wrap-up notes put together by township board member Tim Eder, who wrote they heard about a plan to open new sections of existing trails on state land and in Park Lyndon to mountain biking.

The presentation given at the meeting said a proposal was submitted to the DNR in October 2020 by the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association (PBMA) with the goal of connecting the Potawatomi Trail (Poto) and DTE Energy Trail with a mountain bike route.

These two groups have been leading the project and process to identify the route, challenges and solutions.

According to the presentation, the original proposal was to open 6.5 miles of the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail (WPT), which was historically only open to foot traffic.

The WPT traverses Park Lyndon (North and South).

The Sun Times News followed up with the project planners.

Peter Sanderson, Project Manager for  the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission, answered some questions by email. Here is what he said:

The project is being led by the DNR and the Potawatomi Mountain Bike Association (PMBA). The goal is to establish a mountain bike connection from the existing Potawatomi Trail, located in the Pinckney Recreation Area, to the DTE Energy Trail, located in the Waterloo Recreation Area. The total distance is approximately 6.75 miles. Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission (WCPARC) is involved because the route traverses a small portion of Park Lyndon South.

The route (north to south), starts near the Blind Lake Campground at the intersection of the Potawatomi Trail and the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail (WPT), and follows the WPT for a few miles to Embury Road. Bike traffic must take Embury Road, which is a very low volume, scenic, gravel road, about 1 mile south to N. Territorial Road, where they will cross directly into Park Lyndon South at a signed crossing. Approximately 300 feet of new trail is needed in Park Lyndon South to connect this location to an existing trail, which connects back into the WPT and follows that to the Border to Border Trail (B2B Trail) at the tunnel under M-52. The final connection to the DTE trail is made by following the B2B Trail north about a mile to the main trail entrance along M-52. I have attached a map, which should help.

An important clarification: Park Lyndon has been historically closed to all bicycle traffic and will generally remain so. This project only opens a very short distance (approximately ½ mile) of trail within Park Lyndon south to bicycle traffic for the purpose of this connection. This plan creates the safest route of all of the alternatives explored by minimizing bicycle interaction with N. Territorial Road and keeping the majority of the route completely road-separated. The majority of Park Lyndon’s trail still remain closed to bicycle use. Using Embury Road bypasses most of Park Lyndon. This was necessary because Park Lyndon contains some very high quality habitat that WCPARC does not want to disturb and in contains a significant amount of narrow boardwalk, which is not suitable to bike traffic.

Some additional background: most of the WPT has historically been closed to bicycle traffic (the exception is the portion that overlaps the Potawatomi Trail). The DNR made the decision to allow bicycle use on new, select sections of the WPT as part of this effort. NOT the whole WPT (which is nearly 40 miles long). I recommend reaching out to Chuck Dennison (copied), manager of the Pinckney Recreation Area for more information. My understanding of the reasoning behind it, is that because the WPT is a well-established trail, environmental impact is very minimal and it does not impact new areas. Further, it is the most cost effective option and simplifies management and operation of the trail network.

WCPARC, the DNR, and PMBA want to stress the importance of staying on the designated bike route once this connector is open for use.

The connector route will be two way traffic (not common in SE MI) and open to foot traffic and bicycles (no e-bikes). As such, trail users should ride at safe speeds and yield to other trail users.

The proposed changes to Park Lyndon would include 200-300 feet of new single-track trail to connect to Embury Road, crossing and safety signs at N. Territorial as well as revisions to Park Lyndon signs, such as updating the trail map, rules and wayfinding. 

“No bike” signs would be posted at key locations.

It’s expected there will also be work with the PMBA and DMR monitoring use while also promoting trail etiquette and stewardship.

In Eder’s notes, he said the “Township expressed interest in learning about the plan after hearing concerns from residents. Several citizens were at the meeting to express their disapproval of the plan because of anticipated conflicts between bikers and other users of the trails and impacts on the trails and habitat. Some Township officials expressed their displeasure that the agencies hadn’t consulted with the Township before approving the plan, which will affect a road and trails used by residents of the Township.”

In follow up with STN, Eder did note that Lyndon has been very supportive of the B2B Trail and the DTE Mountain Biking trail. The B2B has a trailhead right next door to township hall.

Work is expected to begin this month.

In answering the question, What can the community expect from it, Sanderson said:

A more connected mountain bike trail network. If one rides the entire Potawatomi, DTE Trail, and the connector both ways, that creates a 53.5 mile ride that will challenge riders and highlight some of the best parts of the recreation areas. Furthermore, there are two existing camping locations that are connected by the route. Along the Potawatomi Trail is the Blind Lake Campground, which is a backcountry site (no drive in access) and near the DTE Trail, just a short 1 mile trip down the newly constructed Border to Border Trail segment along M-52 gets people to the Green Lake Campground (drive in access). Both campgrounds are operated by the DNR and can be reserved through their website.

Long term plans for the B2B Trail hope to connect the existing trail in Hudson Mills to Silver Lake (Pinckney Recreation Area) which, when paired with this mountain bike connector, will open additional nonmotorized connectivity between people, cities, destinations, and our natural resources.

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