New Cedar Creek Trail at Highland State Recreation Area is Nearing Completion

Cedar Creek Trail 090114-DSC_3122 During the snowy and wet spring season of 2014, many Highland State Recreation Area park-goers in Highland/White Lake, Michigan thought that a new and improved Haven Hill Road was being cut through the hillsides and forests of their favorite outdoor place. The recreation area's roads do need a lot or work, to say the least, and a new road was a natural conclusion to some who saw the bulldozers and excavators clearing a wide path from the Haven Hill Gate House at the entrance to the park, all the way back to Teeple Lake. But what everyone was actually witnessing at the time was the initial construction phase of the new Cedar Creek Trail.

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Above: The Cedar Creek Trail circles back onto itself  at M-59 near the entrance to Highland State Recreation Area. The Friends of Highland Recreation Area volunteers are excited about the trails' path through the historic Haven Hill Gate House.

At approximately 2.4 miles in length from M-59 to its' terminous in the south at Teeple Lake, the trail winds through most of the north to south length of the Haven Hill section of Highland State Recreation Area. Hikers, bikers, and equestrians will all be able to enjoy portions of the trail during all seasons.

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Above: A Google Map shows the circuitous north to south path of the new Cedar Creek Trail at Highland State Recreation Area in Oakland County, Michigan. The trail closely follows Haven Hill and Moraine Roads. Safety and emergency access considerations were kept in mind during the trail's early design stages.

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Above: The initial phases of the Cedar Creek Trail were began in the late winter and early spring 2014.

The first clearings of timber and soil were quite shocking and disturbing for nature enthusiasts and many of Highland State Recreation Area forest "regulars". The  width of the trail clearing was considerable, and watching the established trees being plucked from the ground by the giant and powerful machinery was difficult indeed. The heavy work combined with the sparseness of the forest in the early part of the season made for some fairly gruesome images of the "progress".

Cedar Creek Trail Pic 032414-NIKON D7000707Above: Continued early spring 2014 construction of the new Cedar Creek Trail at Highland State Recreation Area in Highland/White Lake, Michigan.

During the summer months, construction crews scraped and sculpted the trail and prepared it for a layer of fill material and eventually a topcoat of compacted crushed granite.

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Throughout the last several weeks leading up to fall, the new pedestrian and equestrian (some portions) trail has been developed from it's rough beginnings into a much more pleasant project in final stages of completion. In August, the new trail was even run through the Haven Hill Gate House and now circles up around the front of the park near M-59 (Highland Road) on its way back over itself to the rear of the park.

Cedar Creek Trail 060414-IMG_1425Above: The trail with initial fill material being laid through the historic former entrance to Edsel and Eleanor Ford's Haven Hill Gate House.

Cedar Creek Trail 072014-DSC_9407Above: At the entrance to the park the new trail replicates the original road into Haven Hill. The Friends of Highland Recreation Area volunteer organization had found the evidence of the original entrance road under the front lawn's sod form many years ago.

Below: The Livingston A's model A Ford driving club were able to drive on the new trail with special permission during the Haven Hill Festival last August. Edsel and Eleanor Ford would have been proud to see the Model A's rumbling through their once grand country estate entrance.

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The Cedar Creel trail has portions that skirt the edge or even cross wetland areas. New decking has been installed to minimize impact on the landscape. The deck will also provide a nice view to the east.

Cedar Creek Trail 091314-DSC_4311Above: The new deck under construction along the Cedar Creek wetlands near the entrance to the Haven Hill Section of Highland State Recreation Area. This new wetland crossing will afford a beautiful view to trail-goers that was previously an obstructed roadside horizon.

Cedar Creek Trail 091314-IMG_3735Above: The late summer trickle of Cedar Creek can been be seen heading off to the southeast under the new decking along Haven Hill Road just past the park entrance.

Below: The new deck and creek crossing nearing completion.

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Some sections of the trail have guardrails installed (see photos above and below) for safety, as well as fences in order to minimize intrusion on the landscape.

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The trail construction project has now obviously run up against an early frigid and snowy start to the 2014/2015 winter. Completion may have to come next spring if work is further hampered due to weather. The Friends of Highland Recreation Area will host their annual Redbud Reveal season-opening event on Saturday, May 9, 2015 that will feature the new Cedar Creek Trail in the Spring.

HRA SNow Deer

Jay Fitzgerald


Friends of Highland Recreation Area

December 2014