My favorite hidden (outdoor) gem
The past few summers I’ve focused much on day hikes and backpacking trips, with a little biking and rock climbing tossed in. This summer though, we focused on biking, lots of biking and fun. And in our quest to bike, we discovered a wonderful trail only 20 minutes from home.
The Macomb Orchard Trail (MOT) is a non-motorized, multi-use trail located in north Macomb County. The 24-mile trail is a former railroad abandoned by the Canadian National Railroad. It begins at 24 Mile/Dequindre in Shelby Township and runs northeast to Richmond.
The Macomb Orchard Trail connects west to the Clinton River Trail, which connects to the Paint Creek Trail. All of these trails are wide, well-maintained areas perfect for biking or walking (rollerblading is feasible on the paved MOT but the others are crushed gravel). These trails are part of an eventual 180-mile rails-to-trails plan. How cool is that??
I personally think the Macomb Orchard Trail is a hidden gem. During the many bike rides we’ve taken on this trail, it is not heavily used compared to the nearby Paint Creek Trail, Clinton River Trail and Stoney Creek Metropark. Which makes it so nice to take a leisure ride on a gorgeous morning with great company.
This trail is also an opportunity to ride through or into small, quaint towns that I don’t usually head to, like Romeo and Richmond. I realize the irony that I think Romeo or Armada is a long drive in a car yet not too far when biking on this trail. We enjoy starting at the main trailhead in Shelby Township and riding to Romeo for a light lunch. If we head back to the trailhead after lunch, it’s a nice 20-mile ride. If you don’t want to ride that many miles, there is a trailhead parking lot a few miles north that cuts the distance several miles. If you continue going north, you will eventually hit Armada, Blake Farms (cider mill & orchard) and finally Richmond.
There are several things that I love about this trail:
— It’s wide enough that we can ride alongside each other, providing opportunity to talk and share stories. Three bikes could ride side-by-side but one of us usually drops back when another bike is approaching as a courtesy.
— It’s flat enough for all levels to ride yet long enough to provide a great cardio workout. The wind seems to hit you either going there or back. Typically it’s not too bad, however, our most recent group ride had it whipping hard against us on
our stretch to Romeo so we were very happy to reach the lunch stop!
— For the most part, it’s relatively quiet. The trail periodically breaks at intersections so you hear cars, and it also cuts behind some backyards, yet much of the first part of trail is tree-lined and then becomes farmland the further north.
— There are multiple benches along the route to rest and a few outhouses.
— While I take every precaution when riding by myself, I feel very comfortable on this trail because houses and businesses are never far should you need help (with that said, I still don’t recommend riding alone at night/dusk and encourage everyone to be alert no matter the time of day). You do want to be cautious at the road crossings, particularly the ones without traffic lights. Some cars just keep moving without stopping to check for pedestrians or bikers. Stay alert!
— The trail doesn’t get a lot of shade so sunscreen is recommended (I’m sure you wear this all the time anyway; hint hint)
There a little bit of downside to this trail and the connecting ones…..I don’t like biking around my neighborhood anymore! I find it too loud, too many cars and too many stops. I’m spoiled. You should get spoiled too – check out these trails.
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