The Rouge River Gateway Trail extension is now open, following a celebratory ribbon-cutting on Nov. 17, allowing walkers, runners and bicyclists to traverse the paved path from Ford Field Park all the way to Hines Park, through natural areas and the campuses of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Henry Ford College.
The extension moves the trailhead to Ford Field Park, where users are strongly encouraged to park. The park provides ample parking and safe, easy access to the trail.
The original trail has been extended about 1/3 of a mile. It now stretches behind the Andiamo restaurant, off Michigan Avenue, on an elevated boardwalk. It continues past the restaurant’s west parking lot and along the wooded tree line through the Dearborn Historical Museum property.
From there, it connects to the existing sidewalks and bike lanes on Brady Street and ultimately to Ford Field Park.
The enhancement to the trail was made possible by a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, a grant from Michigan Department of Transportation, and city contributions.
Thousands of walkers and bicyclists have used the original 2.16-mile paved trail since it was first created in 2005. It wends through natural areas on the banks of the Rouge River and includes two attractive pedestrian bridges, as well as running through the campuses of UM-Dearborn and Henry Ford College.
Along the route, visitors pass the Henry Ford Estate, Environmental Interpretive Center and extensive picturesque natural areas, including a 300-acre mixed-habitat Environmental Study Area, habitats that include one of the few remaining climax beech-maple forests in southeastern Michigan and the Rouge River Bird Observatory. More than 250 species of birds have been spotted in this longest-running full-time urban bird research station in North America.
The trail system, open daily dawn to dusk, includes land owned by Wayne County and City of Dearborn parklands. It also connects with the bike path on Edward Hines Park, north of Ford Road, and goes on to Northville for a total of 19 miles.