Friday, August 31, 2012

New thing #41: Paint Creek Trail

At the trail head
One of my friends inspired this New Thing by asking me if I'd ever been on the Paint Creek Trail. Since this was another spot I've always meant to visit, I was glad to meet her there one evening after work. We found great parking spots next to a big hedge behind a restaurant at the north end of the trail, which starts out in the heart of the Village of Lake Orion. I was a little surprised at how many homes back right up to the trail at this point. We might have given off a little Creeper vibe as we passed by and checked out their back yards, noticing if they had mowed their lawns or if they needed new kitchen curtains. But soon the paved trail gave way to dirt and we had left the village behind. We finished our warm-up and started running at an easy pace. This is a great path to run on - narrow but well maintained, hard packed and level, very scenic as it follows Paint Creek - and bonus! There are bathrooms along the way! The only problem is the trail is really busy, with a steady stream of kamikaze bicycles that whizz past you at full speed. Happily, most of the riders yelled "On your left!", which provided enough warning for us to get out of their way. There is also a spot with a big warning sign telling you to watch for wayward arrows from the nearby archery range. Interestingly, I only noticed the warning signs posted for people heading south. I guess you northward-bound hikers are expendable.

We ran for nearly 3 miles, feeling pretty athletic until we realized that the whole way had been down hill. So we walked the return, allowing us to really enjoy the natural surroundings. We passed fields of wildflowers going to seed and crossed over mossy ravines. The creek criss-crossed the path several times, with sets of steps that invited you down to splash in the shallow water before it meandered out of sight. Benches were strategically placed for those who wanted to rest and watch the birds. At one point we noticed two new-century hippie chicks exiting one of the many side paths running perpendicular to the trail and figured we must be near a party spot. I couldn't see anything through the trees, but eagle-eye Kim noticed some graffiti. We decided to check it out so we turned down the next side path and found this fun and funky art explosion sharing the space with Mother Nature:

We made our way back to the main trail and continued towards the village. I was busy casting one eye to the sky in case any disgruntled Archers were hiding in the woods, when we heard a really strange noise coming down the trail behind us. It was a girl cruising by on an Elliptigo, one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. I have got to find a place that rents these!

Dusk was approaching by the time we got back to our cars, but there were very few bugs and the weather was so perfect that it didn't seem possible that an hour and a half had gone by. The Paint Creek trail is definitely a place to visit again.  

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