Much awaited hike/bike trail gives visitors a peek at what’s to come. 6 Miles of trail now open
White Cloud, MI: This week, Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam, located in Mecosta and Newaygo counties, will open three segments to the public for hiking and mountain biking. The segments, which surround the Hardy Pond Reservoir, total approximately 6 miles and include three bridges and three scenic overlooks. The public can access the following segments:
● A portion of Segment 4, called the Brower Loop, has been completed. Enter Brower Park in Mecosta County and park at the upper lot for boat trailer parking. The start of the approximately 1.5 mile loop is just on the other side of the nearby amphitheater.
● Segment 9 is partially complete, with several miles of trail ready for visitors. Parking is available at Sandy Beach County Park in Newaygo County. The trail runs to the northeast approximately 3 miles. Visitors should be sure to stay on the trail, as it runs alongside several private properties and roadways. Return to Sandy Beach to continue to segment 10.
● Segment 10 is completely finished, and is an approximately 1.7 mile run of trail to the southwest of segment 9, ending at Hardy Dam County Marina. Parking is available at Sandy Beach County Park.
Detailed maps of the open sections can be found at thedragon.us/the-dragon-trail/trail-conditions/. Visitors will need to follow protocols at campgrounds to ensure they have parking passes.
Still more miles are in the works for later this year. The completed miles have come to fruition thanks to committed volunteers and generous corporate funders and partners, including the Fremont Area Community Foundation, Consumers Energy and Consumers Energy Foundation, Mecosta County Visitors Bureau, New Holland Brewing, Big Prairies Parks, West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance, Bissell, Nestle Waters of North America, the White Cloud Rotary Club, Michigan State University Extension, and Mecosta Township. A total of $1.1 million has been raised towards the $3.7 million goal.
The completed Dragon Trail will include 11 segments, 23 bridges, 13 scenic overlooks, and surround 4,000 acres of water. Named for the Hardy Pond Reservoir’s resemblance to a Chinese Dragon, the project is managed by the Newaygo and Mecosta County Park Commissions and West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance.
According to a Michigan State University Center for Economic Analysis study, the Dragon will draw 100,000 annual visitors and generate $4.15 million in annual economic activity with at least 70 new jobs.
“There is already quite a buzz about the Dragon Trail, we’re thrilled to be able to let mountain bikers and hikers get out on it,” said Jeff Abel, Mecosta County Parks Superintendent. “The trail is poised to become a major regional asset and attraction, and we’re motivated to keep adding miles to the completed total.”
The newly launched Dragon Trail website located at www.thedragon.us provides further detail on forthcoming trail openings and construction progress. The website is the go-to resource for updated information on the Dragon Trail, including the comprehensive trail plan, sustainability measures, trail features, and opportunities to support the trail. Fundraising opportunities will be shared on the website in the future to raise the final $2.6 million of the $3.7 million campaign.
To learn how you can help build or maintain the Dragon, or make a gift, visit www.thedragon.us.
ABOUT MICHIGAN’S DRAGON AT HARDY DAM
Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam is a 47-mile non-motorized, multi-use trail system located between Hardy and Rodgers Dams in West Michigan. The Dragon is managed by Newaygo County Parks, Mecosta County Parks Commission, and the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance. Construction for the trail began in 2019. Learn more at www.thedragon.us.