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  • Essay Project 2021

Essay Project 2021: The Portland Hike and Bike Trail

By: Katelyn Stanton

“What better way to spend my time than passing through this scene sublime

Committed to the course and pace with not a worry on my face

Now as my ride comes to an end, I’ll wait to see around the bend

But I’ll come back another day and once again I’ll find my way”

(The Bike Path, Richard Lackman)

On May 18, 2019 the Portland Hike and Bike Trail was added to the list of things for Portland students and residents to utilize and enjoy in the community. “The science of teaching proves that education only occurs with the appropriate equipment and environment and motivation. Having an appropriate location and facilities to match our equipment and student's excitement became essential, so an unpaved trail was necessary for our students and community to have in order to begin riding mountain bikes and to refine their skills so they would be able to enjoy a longer, healthier and happier life” (Pulling) The hope of the trail is to introduce cycling and new skills to others. The Hike and Bike Trail is a 5.5 mile unpaved set of trails with four different trail levels for different skill levels ( The beginner loop 1.5 miles, the intermediate loop .85 miles, the advanced loop 1 mile, and the rail trail out & back 2.15 miles). The trail was created by Andy Pulling, a physical education and health teacher at Portland High School. The idea came from a trip to Morgan Hill, California. Morgan Hill is the location of the headquarters for Specialized Foundation and the Outride Foundation. This foundation sponsored a $25,000+ grant to start the bicycle program in Portland.

The trail location is behind the Portland High School softball and football fields. This location was chosen to support student learning, community use, and because of the natural mixture of flat, hilly, and wooded terrain. The trail being unpaved was necessary for the students and community to have in order to begin riding mountain bikes and to improve their skills to enjoy a longer, healthier, and happier life. Andy Pulling's inspiration to build the trail in Portland came from his personal experience in riding and competing in BMX, mountain and road bike competitions. Pulling has been teaching cycling in Ionia County for about a decade. He started the bike program in Portland to introduce his acquired cycling skills to others. “When I teach cycling and watch students building their skills, a different joy arises,” says Pulling.

“The creation process was complex,” said Pulling. “I observed their trails and vision then started to research, contact and interview trail builders or project managers of other trails on or near school campuses with the vision of having a trail on PHS's campus. I then walked our campus and projected trail location with multiple trail designers and mountain bike riders. We marked the trail loops with flags observing the terrain changes as they relate to enjoyable trails for learning how to hike and ride mountain bikes. I then used multiple apps to walk the marked trail loops to get a rough map in which I would use in my trail proposals.”

The funding for the trail was completely paid for by donations, grant money, and volunteer work. There were many people in and around the community that volunteered to help build and work on the trails. A few of those volunteers were Josh McCreedy (Owner/Operator of TrailSense), Mr. Will Heath (PPS Superintendent), Tutt Gorman (Portland City Manager), and Ben Rollenhagen (Central Michigan University). You can see a list of all the volunteers at the TrailHead Kiosk located at the softball field parking lot. About three maintenance days are needed each year for trimming, mowing, ect.

Anyone who wants more information can visit the Hike and Bike Trails instagram and facebook pages or contact Andy Pulling at

Work Cited

Grifhorst, Nick. Portland opens hike and bike trail, Accessed 11 Jan. 2021.

Lackman, Richard. The Bike Path, Accessed 11 Jan. 2021.

Townsend, Jim. Portland Hike and Bike Trail Under Development, 28 Aug. 2018, Accessed 11 Jan. 2021.

Pulling, Andy. "Portland Hike and Bike Trail." Received by the author, 5 Jan. 2021. Accessed 11 Jan. 2021.

This essay is part of a writing project by students in Chandra Polasek’s ELA class at Portland High School. The project asked students to focus on elements of their own town while getting students engaged with the community. The essays were written with the intention of being published in The Portland Beacon.


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