On January 20, 2017, this popular rail trail was renamed the Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park in honor of Michael R. Levine, an inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, Pinckney resident, and tireless supporter of the Lakelands Trail and Michigan trails movement. He recently pledged $5 million to expand and improve three trails: the Lakelands Trail State Park, the Great Lake to Lake Trail Route 1 and the Iron Belle Trail.
One of Michigan's five "linear" state parks, the trail currently consists of approximately 20 miles of non-motorized, multi-use trail passing through a varied landscape of woodlands, wetlands, lakes, small country towns and quaint family farms.
The trail includes 8 miles of paved asphalt trail, with an unpaved equestrian path, from the village of Hamburg to M-36 in Pinckney. The remaining 12-mile section of trail, from Pinckney to Stockbridge, is surfaced with finely screened and compacted limestone. This unpaved section is a very popular equestrian trail and may be a little rough here and there. Be cautious when approaching horseback riders to avoid "spooking" their horses.
Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park was developed on the rail bed of the original Michigan Air Line Railroad, built in 1883, which ran between Port Huron and Niles. It was known as the Grand Trunk Western Railroad when the rail corridor was abandoned and turned over to MDOT in 1975. The trail was opened for public use in 1994 and has seen several stages of improvements since then.
In 2013, the section through Putnam Township east of Pinckney was improved with an asphalt bike path and limestone equestrian lane. In 2015, a new trailhead was completed in the village of Hamburg. The trail also includes a tunnel under busy M-36 near the Pettysville Trailhead.
Another 13 miles of the original rail corridor, from Stockbridge to Parnell Road near Jackson, is currently under development and will eventually connect with the Falling Waters Trail. The Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park is an important link in the "Great Lake to Lake Trail Route 1” that will someday create a continuous non-motorized multi-use trail from South Haven to Port Huron.