Orion Township was one of three Michigan communities named as 2020 Pure Michigan Trail Towns by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Towns with Pure Michigan designation are identified as vibrant places where trail-based tourism meets the needs of both trail users and town residents. A Pure Michigan Trail Town is a destination along a Pure Michigan Trail where users can venture off the trail to enjoy the scenery and the nearby community’s character, heritage and charm. Orion Township boasts 42 lakes, 4,247 acres of parkland and more than 50 miles of trails and paths, including the popular Paint Creek and Polly Ann Trails. The Polly Ann Trail was designated a Pure Michigan Trail in 2019. Orion Township is the only Township in the state, and the only community in Southeast Michigan, designated as a Pure Michigan Trail Town. Below are summaries of the major trail networks within the Township.
Iron Belle Trail
The proposed Iron Belle Trail crosses 48 counties across Michigan, extending from the western edge of the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle on the Detroit River. The MDNR, the lead agency managing and completing the trail, is working to close the gaps where sections of the trail are missing. The portion that runs through Orion Township is nearly complete, with only a short break just west of Elkhorn Lake before the trail turns north again. It continues adjacent to Indianwood Golf and Country Club, up to Seymour Lake Road, where it is then proposed to turn west. The trail enters the Township between Orion Road and Bald Mountain State Recreation Area, crosses the northernmost section of the park, and then follows Clarkston Road west. The 700-foot and 900-foot wooden boardwalks over marshland along Clarkston Road were funded by two MDNR Natural Resources Trust Fund grants totaling $600,000. The boardwalk currently connects to the Polly Ann Trail.
Polly Ann Trail (Pure Michigan Trail – 2019)
The Polly Ann Trail is a major, non-motorized trail in Oakland County extending north from Orion Township on a former Pontiac, Oxford & Northern Railroad corridor. The trail is managed by the Polly Ann Trail Management Council, Inc. (PATMC). The portion of the trail in Oakland County has a crushed stone surface and runs for 14.2 miles from Orion Township to the Oakland–Lapeer county line, and connects the Townships of Orion, Oxford and Addison and the Villages of Oxford and Leonard. The Orion Township pathway system connects the Polly Ann Trail to the popular Paint Creek Trail.
Paint Creek Trail
The Paint Creek Trail is an 8.9-mile linear park, located in northeast Oakland County. It was the first Non-Motorized Rail-to-Trail in the State of Michigan, as it was converted to a trail from the former Penn Central Railroad. Open to the public since 1983, the Paint Creek Trail receives over 100,000 visitors annually. The non-motorized Trail is 8 feet wide, and traverses through Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township and the Village of Lake Orion. The trail is managed by a Trailways Commission under an intergovernmental agreement between the City of Rochester, the City of Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, and Orion Township. Each municipality is responsible for the maintenance within its jurisdiction. It is believed that its popularity has sparked development of other trails, namely Macomb Orchard and Polly Ann.
Orion Township Safety Paths
Orion Township has over 47 miles of safety paths ideal for walking, running, or biking. Year-round, residents can enjoy the natural landscapes and features of our township while promoting a healthy lifestyle. The safety path network is designed to connect all of the recreational assets of the community; including the trails, parks, schools, and businesses.