July 19, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 168

Road once traveled

IRONWOOD — Chris Hillier arrived at Festival Ironwood in the Depot Park on Thursday afternoon, ending a 924-mile hike from Detroit.

Ironwood mayor Kim Corcoran welcomes long-distance hiker Chris Hillier to Festival Ironwood Thursday afternoon. Hillier is reportedly the first hiker to make the 924-mile hike along a trail route from Detroit to Ironwood proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

In December, Gov. Rick Snyder announced he was going to make Michigan the trails mecca of the Midwest, and wanted a non-motorized trail from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood. The trail hasn’t been officially named yet, but Hillier said he will call it the Ironwood Trail, because he has been dreaming of reaching Ironwood for 11 weeks.

Hillier is the first to make the trek. He began on April 26, planning on a 10-week hike, but things took a little longer than expected. While downstate, he was averaging 15 to 18 miles per day, but once he hit the Upper Peninsula, he was enjoying the scenery so much that he slowed down to eight to 10 miles per day.

Hillier camped in his tent the majority of the time, spending only five nights in hotels or in people’s homes.

While enjoying a beer at the festival, Hillier said it tasted really good, especially considering he had been drinking water from the Black River treated with iodine for the last leg of his journey.

Ironwood Mayor Kim Corcoran thanked Hillier for being a positive role model, and said his motivation and drive are to be applauded.

According to Hillier’s blog on Pure Michigan’s website, michigan.org, he’s hiked more than 6,000 miles since April of 2011 on various jaunts in North America.

“I like to be out-of-doors a lot,” Hillier wrote. “I spent seven months and nine days hiking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. It took me five months and 25 days to hike the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.”

Hillier, 45, lives in Taylor and is a U.S. Army veteran. He was born and raised in Farmington Hills in suburban Detroit.