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Kensington Metropark Makes Trail Improvements

Rollerskiing & Inline Skating Trails

Sun, May  28, 2006 - By Mike Muha

A trail reroute, a trail repair, and a new set of mile markers are nearly complete this spring on Kensington Metropark's hike-bike trail. The reroute will make the trail slightly longer while eliminating a hill, while the trail repair will fix some damage to the pavement caused by roots. Parts of the trail will be closed through mid-June while the repairs and reroute are completed.

Repairs to Root Damage Near I-96

The quarter mile of pavement between the two wooden bridges next to I-96 is being replaced. The surface, especially near the link under the highway to Island Lake Recreation Area, was cracked, bumpy, and pushed up by roots. Skiers frequently would bottom out their rollerskis going over the damage.

Already underway (the old pavement has been removed), remaining work is expected to take a full 5 business days. Plans are to install a special barrier to stop the roots from damaging the paced path again.

Park officials said mid-June completion date is a more conservative estimate because of potential weather related delays (the construction was already delayed because of rain). This section is currently closed until construction is complete.

Trail Reroute at Maple Beach

The hike-bike trail takes a substantial reroute at Maple Beach (see map below). The current bike path route (in green) - going clockwise around the trail - crosses the entrance to the paddle boat rental area, curves sharply left, then climbs a nice hill. At the top of the hill, the trail crosses the entrance road to Maple Beach before descending sharply down and to the right, then curving left and up a gentle grade past the soccer fields at Possum Hollow.

Old (green) and new (red) sections of the trail reroute

The new section of trail (in red) also crosses the paddle boat entrance but goes straight instead of curving uphill, then curves gently right along the shore of Kent Lake. It continues through the middle of the sand beach at Maple Beach before turning left to climb a gentle hill back to the original trail at the start of the climb to Possum Hollow.

Photo from the road leading into the paddle boat pond: The old path climbs up a long hill; the new path follows along the shore of Kent Lake through Maple beach.

Says Dick Shafer, Park Superintendent, "The original trail was designed for hikers and bikers. It was never constructed with inline skaters or rollerskiers in mind. We've had a number of people - especially beginning inline skaters - crash at the paddle boat entrance. We think these changes will make the trail safer for more people."

New trail route along Kent Lake

The trail sections around Maple Beach - including the old trail - will be closed starting Tuesday, May 30, as paving begins. Superintendent Shafer expects the work to take five business days, but again suggests mid-June as a more realistic end-date because of potential weather delays.

Notice the trail goes through the middle of the beach, then onto a new concrete sidewalk to the water, making the water handicap accessible.

The old section of trail up and over the hill will be removed. For rollerskiers and inline skaters, this means the loss of a steeper climb and descent, but the addition of a longer, gentler climb.

The trail has left the beach and is now paralleling the parking area.

The new trail joins the old trail where the existing trails begins climbing up to the soccer fields at Possum Hollow

New Trail Mile Markers

New trail mile markers have been added to the trail over the past 8 months. In the past, the pavement was painted with mile markers starting at the East Boat Launch parking area (off Kent Lake Road at I-96).

The West Boat Launch parking area (off Kensington Road at I-96) now gets almost as many guests as the East entrance, and the decision was made to have two sets of mile markers with a zero marker at each Boat Launch area, according to Superintendent Shafer.

From the new "00" mile marker at the East Boat Launch. iles are marked going counterclockwise around the trail. Green signs with white lettering are mounted on a 4x4 post around the 8+ mile loop (see picture below).

New mile marker indicating you've gone three miles along the path in a counterclockwise direction from the East Boat Launch parking area. The "WW" indicates this is a "Winter Walk" section of trail. The brown "Pass on the left" sign is mounted on the other side of the post and can be read by people coming the opposite direction on the trail.

Going clockwise around the park are gold signs with black letting, starting with sign post "00" at the West Boat Launch parking area.

On a side of each marker facing people coming in the other direction are park rules such as "Pass on the left only" or "Pick up after your pet". Markers are reflectorized for people out at night with lights, so they can tell where they are on the trail.

Some markers also carry the letters "WW", indicating this is a Winter Walk section of trail, plowed and salted in the winter for walkers and runners. Says Superintendent Shafer, "We're trying to keep walkers off the section of trail used for cross country skiing. These WW markers indicate where people can run or walk in the winter."

Each marker can be "bought" with a donation of $375 to the park. A plaque with the donator's name will be added to the appropriate mile marker. Folks interested in donating can contact Dick Shafer directly at (248) 685-1561 or (800) 477-3178.