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Bridging Borders: Enjoy Detroit's Outdoor Future along the Border to Border Trail

With the Detroit region positioned to set the international standard for world-class trail infrastructure, Washtenaw County's transformative "Border to Border Trail" provides a glimpse into the ground-breaking future of our outdoor ecosystem. Here are our key takeaways from the B2B Trail's annual kick-off event!

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Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024. Just after 5PM. Like the eerie calm before a tsunami strikes, nearly all of the Detroit region is bracing itself for the tidal wave of record-breaking visitors set to attend the 2024 NFL Draft in Downtown Detroit. Surely all of Detroit's recreational fandom would be caught up in the football-frenzied fray, especially in the wake of such a historic season.

Believe it or not, the NFL Draft did not capture the entirety of Southeast Michigan's sports attention. Even the visionary owner of the Detroit Lions took her attention - definitely a well-deserved break - off of the historic event.

Instead, Mrs. Hamp has joined a hundred or so zealous recreational advocates, in Ann Arbor, at an event called "Maps & Taps": the spring 2024 kick-off event for the Border to Border Trail, i.e. the "B2B Trail," one of the Detroit region's most transformative trail-building initiatives.

What is the Border to Border Trail? None other than Washtenaw County's most ambitious, community-enriching, and industry-redefining trail infrastructure project since, well, ever. A visionary 55-mile (once complete), 10 foot wide, ADA accessible, paved pathway connecting far more than just Rawsonville in the county's southeast to Stockbridge and Pinckney in the northwest.

The B2B will provide the critical link between the Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park and Waterloo State Recreation Area, Pinckney State Recreation Area, thee Huron-Clinton Metroparks, the Huron River National Water Trail, and countless municipal parks. A non-motorized transportation corridor linking praised trail towns like Chelsea, Dexter, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti.

The full Border to Border Trail System

The Expedition Detroit team was lucky enough to score a ticket to this year's Maps & Taps. As in we snagged one of the last of the highly-sought tickets. And we're so thankful that we did - beyond the festive atmosphere, complete with cornhole, ping pong, darts, beer tickets, silent auction for live art, and a selfie station, Maps & Taps was more of a "Washtenaw County Trails Summit" than simply an informational session. A constructive gathering of movers, shakers, and cheerleaders emotionally and/or financially invested in the generational impact of the Border to Border Trail.

By the time that we left Maps & Taps, the forthcoming NFL Draft was legitimately an after-thought - merely a prelude to the sustainable regional change that is already drawing headlines to Michigan's outdoor industry. Now, with our heads still buzzing with enthusiasm for what's in store next for the Border to Border Trail, here are Expedition Detroit's key takeaways on the B2B's 2024 agenda and the future of Detroit's trail infrastructure.

border to border b2b trail washtenaw county expedition detroit huron waterloo pathways advocacy michigan dexter
Photo courtesy of Border to Border Trail


Michigan is in the midst of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the Michigan DNR's 2021 "Trails Plan" for the 2022-2032 decade, one of the agency's stated goals included that "Michigan will solidify its national recognition as the Trails State by providing diverse and sustainable trail experiences to encourage health and wellness." The cornerstone of this masterplan is the forthcoming Iron Belle Trail - a 2,000 mile hiking experience that will constitute the longest state-designated trail in the U.S. - connecting Downtown Detroit with Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula.

But wait, there's more. The trail equivalent of a Russian matryoshka doll, the completed Iron Belle Trail will form a material portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail: a 4,800 behemoth of a trail stretching from the Green Mountains in Vermont, through both Michigan peninsulas, and reaching its western terminus in the buttes of North Dakota. The North Country Trail connects directly to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in the east and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in the west.

And - as the cherry on top - the Iron Belle Trail will connect directly to the 14,996 mile-long Trans Canada Trail via the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

With that scale in mind, the hyper-focus on the Border to Border Trail's development compounds in significance. Why? Because the B2B Trail represents the critical missing link between all of North America's great trails. That's right. If someone ever wanted to hike the TCT, then the NCT, all while on their way to the AT or a western trail, that ridiculously nomadic thru-hiker would have to trek the B2B first.

In 2024, the Border to Border Trail will make significantly strides in connecting those critical links. Here's a rundown of the high-ticket construction items currently in progress:

  • Ann Arbor: 0.63 mile segment that will cross the Barton Nature Area and the construction of the Barton Bandemer Tunnel under the railroad lin, connecting Bandemer Park to Huron River Drive

  • Chelsea-Stockbridge Connection: 1.6 mile segment from North Territorial Road to Boyce Road long M-52, which will provide 6.3 miles of continuous trail.

  • Dexter-Ann Arbor Connection: 1.3 mile segment from Zeeb Road to Delhi Metropark, including the 4th B2B Trail bridge over the Huron River and a connection between 3 Metroparks - a key component of a larger plan to connect all 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks via a single trail.

  • Dexter-Chelsea Connection: 0.7 mile segment that will complete the remaining distance from Wylie to Parker Road along Dexter Chelsea Road.

  • Dexter Connection: 0.8 mile segment crossing Mill Creek, including the addition of a B2B Trail bridge and completing the connection into Downtown Dexter.


Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives - commonly referred to as "DEI" - have held a central pillar in the progression of the outdoor economy for several years now. From industry-leading retailers and advocacy groups to governmental agencies, the outdoor industry as a whole has sought to advocate for and implement such policies throughout every facet of their operations.

For the Border to Border Team, advocating for DEI initiatives isn't just part of their core beliefs. It's a concept worth commemorating - prominently - through the construction of Title IX Plaza within Dexter-Huron Metropark.

Resulting from a joint project between the B2B Team, Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative (HWPI), Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, Title IX Plaza will honor the positive impact of Title IX's legislation on women's sports in southeast Michigan. The plaza is expected to open this summer 2024.

DEI-focused projects like the Title IX Place are both fantastic and undeniably necessary for the growth and sustainability of the outdoor recreation industry. While the great outdoors represents a hallowed destination to find peace and refuge from modern society, the sad truth remains that this has not - and for certain demographics, still does not - reflect the experience of all aspiring athletes and recreationists. Discrimination based on gender, race, sexual orientation, and identity has left a deep stain on our outdoor culture. Our outdoor community must commit to continued intentional action - such as publicly commemorating historic feats in combating discrimination - for creating an inclusive and vibrant outdoors for all.

border to border b2b trail washtenaw county expedition detroit huron waterloo pathways advocacy michigan
Photo courtesy of Border to Border Trail


Nonprofit organizations are one of society's most effective agents of change. With the "profit" variable omitted from the operational equation, nonprofits have the freedom to align their values solely with their mission. For the team at Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative, that means pouring every dollar into imagining, designing, building, and maintaining the B2B Trail for Washtenaw County.

The elimination of "profit" can have its drawbacks though. Without the consistent cash flow of for-profit companies, project timelines and implementation can be dramatically slowed by any lulls in donor funding or volunteer availability.

That's where we - the trail users and ultimate beneficiaries of their mission - can make our greatest impact.

The truth simply is that the B2B Trail would likely still be in its genesis if it weren't for the support of private donors, impactful partners, and the recreationally-passionate residents of Washtenaw County. Since 2000, the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation and the Roads and Non-Motorized Trails millages have allowed the county to invest more than $40M in the planning, design, and construction of trail projects like the B2B Trail. The millions of dollars of private donations - as well countless volunteer hours spent at trail stewardship events - have exponentially turned the B2B from a trailside vision to its current reality.

Wondering how you can best support the B2B Trail? Here are a few of our suggestions:

  • Sign Up to be a Trail Volunteer: The B2B Trail Team hosts volunteer trail events throughout the year! Sign up here to get your name on the shortlist for upcoming events.

  • Pioneer a Personal Cleanup Event: Ready to make an immediate impact on your favorite trail? All that you need are good trekking shoes, gloves, a trash bag, and your preferred segment of the B2B. Don't forget to share your cleanup success with the team!

  • Share Your Adventures: We can't underestimate how important it is to publicize your amazing time spent outdoors! While social media can be a hot topic, one aspect underlining its importance is that it broadcasts exciting opportunities or experiences to a broad audience. Don't forget to tag @B2BTrail in your posts - you know what, tag @expeditiondetroit too while you're at it.

  • Become a Donor: Simply put, there's no better way to make a lasting impact than to become a regular donor of a transformative organization like the Border to Border Trail. All financial donations to the B2B Trail are administered by the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative (HWPI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so contributions are 100% tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.


Expedition Detroit is proud to work with important trail advocacy organizations like the Border to Border Trail, Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative, and other organizations that stand on the frontlines of transforming the Detroit region into a preeminent outdoor destination. If you have an organization that is aligned with our mission to create and accelerate value for Detroit’s emerging outdoor industry, then we invite you to contact us at


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