Formed in 1997, the Friends of the Polly Ann Trail is a grass-roots organization of citizens that promotes and supports the development and operation of the Polly Ann Trail in Lapeer County. Owned by the Michigan Department Natural Resources, the abandoned corridor was once used by the Pontiac, Oxford & Northern Railroad, nicknamed the "Polly Ann" (P, O & N). The Friends group creates awareness of the recreational corridor with events, political action, volunteerism and other efforts. Local groups host horseback riding, cycling events, nature walks, runs, and charity fundraisers.
The trail is mostly undeveloped, but currently provides an ideal setting for horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, running and opportunities for nature lovers - options not available to other southeast Michigan developed trail systems. The Polly Ann Trail in Lapeer County is a 20-mile former rail corridor from Bordman Road to Kings Mill, passing through Dryden, Imlay City, and Lum. This trail connects directly to the Polly Ann Trail in Oakland County, also owned by the Michigan Department Natural Resources, and managed by the Polly Ann Trail Management Council (PATMC).
The Lapeer and Oakland County Polly Ann Trails are considered major trail systems of southeastern Michigan. Future plans include connections of the Oakland County Polly Ann Trail to the long-established Paint Creek Trail and its connection to the Clinton River Trail, Macomb-Orchard Trail, and other systems connecting an east/west recreational corridor across the State of Michigan. For more information about the trail systems of Michigan, please contact us.
- The Friends group was founded in the fall of 1997 to build support in the community for the acquisition of the 20-mile former rail corridor in Lapeer County.
- Following a year and a half campaign by the Friends to demonstrate support in the county for the acquisition, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved the acquisition in the spring of 1999. The funds for the $449,000 purchase came from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.
- Prior to the 2000 Michigander bike ride, which included the Polly Ann Trail, the Friends constructed six bridges over former railroad trestles. A seventh bridge was built later.
- The Friends group was involved in the development of the initial master plan for the Polly Ann Trail.
- The Riseman family donated a ten-acre parcel to the Lapeer Land Conservancy adjacent to the Polly Ann Trail that includes the Belle River and adjoining wetlands.
- The Friends group contributed $10,000 toward the acquisition of a seven-acre parcel that connects the Polly Ann Trail and General Squier Park. Upon completion of the connector trail from the park to the trail, the park will serve as a trailhead for the Polly Ann Trail.
- A bike rack and an informational kiosk were donated by the Friends for Dryden Memorial Park. The park serves as a trailhead for the Polly Ann Trail.
- In 2012, the Friends group donated over $6000 for the construction of a trailhead in Imlay City. The trailhead has a gravel parking lot, two benches, a message board, hitching posts, and trash barrels. The trailhead is maintained by the City of Imlay City.
- In 2017, Lapeer County submitted a development grant application for $300,000 to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. The Friends group launched a fundraising campaign to raise the $100,000 needed to match the grant. The campaign raised over $115,000, though the grant application was unsuccessful.
- Imlay City has led the area in support for development of the trail, by paving the 0.7-mile portion of the trail that passes through the city, and by installing lighting for that segment.
- In December of 2022, the Friends group, in partnership with Lapeer County, submitted a development grant through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Spark program. In January of 2023, the grant was awarded to Lapeer County in the amount of $287,000, and that amount was supplemented by $5,000 from Dryden Township, and $10,000 from the Friends of the Polly Ann Trail. The trail project will be a development of 1.5 miles of crushed limestone from Dryden Road to Casey Road.
The Polly Ann Trail in Lapeer County has provided a variety of benefits for area residents. It offers a nearly 20-mile non-motorized corridor for safe passage for walkers, runners, bicyclists, equestrians and cross-country skiers. Its economic benefits include bringing people to Dryden, Imlay City and Lum for shopping and dining. Environmental benefits include encouraging non-motorized travel, excellent opportunities for nature viewing, the protection of wildlife corridors and helping to maintain the rural nature of the community.
The Friends of the Polly Ann Trail is the organization that has kept the dream of a developed trail alive. In the almost 25 years of its existence, the Friends group has supported the trail by funding improvements and maintenance and by promoting the trail to the community. The Friends continues to raise funds for the eventual development of the trail in Lapeer County.