It’s Saturday afternoon, the early summer sun is warming your face while kids ride their bikes in lazy circles along the waterfront pathway and the unmistakable Detroit skyline punctuates the horizon. Just off the shore, a group of kayakers drift by. What sounds like the backdrop of a big-budget film is the vision driving the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and The Great Lakes Way® initiative.
Stretching from southern Lake Huron to western Lake Erie, The Great Lakes Way® is comprised of an interconnected set of 156 miles of blueways, also known as water trails, and 160 miles of greenways, or land trails. By linking residents and visitors to Michigan’s impressive collection of world-class freshwater, wildlife and recreation assets, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan hopes to encourage outdoor recreation for all ages and abilities while inspiring the next generation of conservation and sustainability leaders.
Despite the completion of mapped blueways, which are already in use, there is still much work to be done on land. To date, 64% of the greenways have been completed, 26% have a partial connection, 25% have a plan in place, and 11% lack paths for bicycles or pedestrians. As fundraising and development continue, the Community Foundation is also working to secure National Recreational Trails designation, providing national visibility and driving tourism to southeast Michigan. However, The Great Lakes Way® is far too great to be confined to our borders. With the completion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, slated for 2024, dedicated pedestrian lanes will connect The Great Lakes Way® greenways to Canadian greenways in Windsor and Essex, Ontario, creating a unique international outdoor recreational experience.
The Erb Family Foundation is proud to fund the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan with a $250,000 grant in support of The Great Lakes Way® initiative, furthering the Erb Foundation’s commitment to Great Lakes stewardship and economic development. We encourage you to visit The Great Lakes Way® website to learn more about The Great Lakes Way® initiative, explore the interactive map, and get outside to enjoy everything that the great outdoors has to offer right in our own backyard.