The Paint Creek Trail is an 8.9 mile recreational trail located in northeast Oakland County. It traverses through Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township, and the Village of Lake Orion. Most of the trail is surfaced with crushed limestone, and is 8 feet wide. A 1/4 mile segment at the northern terminus in Lake Orion is paved with asphalt.
The trail is built on a former railroad bed. The Paint Creek Trailways Commission is an intergovernmental agency that owns and manages the trail and trail right-of-way. The Commission right-of-way is generally 100 feet wide. The trail is not always in the center of the right-of-way. The Paint Creek is a designated trout stream that intertwines with the trail at many points, and provides great fishing opportunities.
The Paint Creek Trail – Michigan’s Millennium Legacy Trail
In 1999, the Paint Creek Trail received a special honor. The Southeast Michigan Greenways Trail, a conceptual network of inter-connected trails and greenways throughout the 7-county area of Southeast Michigan, was proclaimed Michigan’s Millennium Legacy Trail by the White House on October 21, 1999. The Paint Creek Trail carried the honor of being the physical representative of the trail system since it serves as an excellent physical and operational example for other trails. As part of the designation, the Trailways Commission was given a $10,000 grant for a Millennium Legacy Trail Art Project. The grant, along with other matching funds, paid for our Prairie Restoration Art Project – a gazebo-like structure located on the Trail north of Gallagher, that commemorates our Prairie Restoration Project south of Silver Bell Road.
The Paint Creek Trail – a National Recreation Trail
On June 1, 2006, the Paint Creek Trail received the honor of being named a National Recreation Trail by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The National Recreation Trails program recognizes exemplary trails of local and regional significance that provide for numerous outdoor recreation activities in a variety of urban, rural, and remote areas. Over 900 Trails in every state have received this designation. The NRT Program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service in cooperation with American Trails. As a National Recreation Trail, the Paint Creek Trail will benefit from the prestige and increased visibility of being part of the 10,000 mile National Trail System. The Trailways Commission received a letter and certificate signed by the Secretary of the Interior, as well as logo signs to be placed along the Trail. Additionally, the Trailways Commission receives access to technical assistance and unique funding opportunities. As part of this designation, the Paint Creek Trail is included in the on-line National Registry of Trails, and is given it’s own NRT webpage. The webpage includes descriptive information, pictures, and facts about the Paint Creek Trail. You can access it here: Paint Creek Trail – a National Recreation Trail.
The Paint Creek Trail – A Pure Michigan Trail
The Paint Creek Trail was designated a Pure Michigan Trail at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on April 11, 2023. The Trail was honored with an award for its example of the state’s natural beauty and the outdoor recreation and alternative transportation opportunities it provides to the local area and visitors alike. The trail will be featured in the Pure Michigan travel campaigns from now on as an example of what makes Michigan the #1 trail state in the nation. Pure Michigan | Paint Creek Trail