The Paint Creek Trail, opened in 1983, is Michigan's oldest rail-trail. It has many charms: wildlife, historical sites, picnic tables and a lovely creek filled with jumping trout. To help keep tabs on your trip and connect with other area trails, the six trailheads provide large billboard maps and folding trail guides to take with you. Mile markers, left over from the days when this path was a railway, are additionally helpful.
Following Paint Creek from Lake Orion south to the city of Rochester, the trail slopes gently downhill. Its crushed limestone surface is a draw for bicyclists, walkers and joggers. Equestrian riders share the path until just outside the Rochester city limits. Just 2 miles from Lake Orion, a prominent historical marker notes the site of the water-powered Carpenter Rudd Mill that stood here until 1926. This is also where you can connect to the Bald Mountain Recreation Area for fishing, swimming and mountain biking.
Take special care when leaving the trail and crossing Adams Road, as there is a high volume of traffic and no crossing signal. Continuing on the trail you find an abundance of wildlife, including deer, turtles, frogs and many species of birds as well as wildflowers. There are lots of opportunities to fish along the trail, since Paint Creek itself meanders alongside and crosses the trail.
In Oakland Township, Goodison area, there are two trailheads. At mile 5 there is parking only at the Gallagher Road trailhead, and parking is available at the Silverbell Road trailhead at mile 6. At Tienken there is parking and picnic tables. At mile 8.5 Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve offers hiking trails through 16 acres of all-season beauty. A short way beyond the nature preserve, Rochester Municipal Park on your right provides parking, restrooms and drinking water.
Just past the local police department and outside the park are bicycle shops, restaurants, a bank and shops. The rail-trail ends along Rochester Municipal Park, where the Rochester River Walk begins. Follow the walkway south along Paint Creek, through the city of Rochester and behind the Rochester Hills Public Library. When the walkway forks at a gazebo, bear to your left to reach the 16-mile Clinton River Trail. At this point you can go west on the Clinton River Trail or turn east for 2 miles and connect to the Macomb Orchard Trail.
To reach the Lake Orion trailhead, follow State Route M-24 (Lapeer Road) to Atwater Road. Parking and two trailheads are behind the strip mall on the southeast corner.
To reach the Clarkston Road trailhead, follow M-24/Lapeer Road and turn east onto Clarkson; go 1 mile then turn right on Kern Road. Parking is on the left.