Scenic Manistee Area Recreation Trails

Vision: A County that has a well developed & connected trail system.

The Friends of SMART is an advocacy group committed to helping create, promote, maintain, and connect trails within Manistee County and to the growing trail system in Michigan.

About us

The Friends of SMART is a 501c-3 non-profit organization focused on non-motorized recreation trail advocacy in Manistee County, Michigan. It is our goal to advocate through fundraising and community support through strategic partnerships including:

Benzie – Manistee Snowbirds

Shoreline Cycling Club

Manistee County government services/Manistee County Recreation Committee

Michigan DNR

Thompsonville Area Revitalization

Networks Northwest

as well as the gracious support of many other individuals and businesses!

What we do


We advocate for trail development as part of the larger picture of an inter-connected regional trail system.


We fund-raise for trail development funding through grants and community functions. 


We volunteer to spread the word about our local trail developments, fund-raising, and physical trail stewardship to maintain our trails.

What we have Accomplished

The Friends of SMART have been on the forefront of trail development here in Manistee County! Through combined efforts we have begun work on a trail system that many generations will be able to utilize, enjoy, and hopefully have fun on.



Gravel trail between Chief to Kaleva was laid in late 2021 in a collaborative effort by Snowbirds, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Friends of SMART, and the Manistee County Recreation Commission as part of the long-term plan to develop a multi-use trail system throughout the county.


Currently in Progress

EDA Grant through Networks Northwest.

The grant will fund two separate projects along two separate trail routes. 

  1. Trail surfacing and amenities (signage, gates, trailhead) will be implemented along a 3.4 mile section of abandoned railroad bed between the Village of Thompsonville and the Village of Copemish, which will extend the Betsie Valley Trail as a year-round trail to Copemish.
  2. Placement of a bridge over Bear Creek in Springdale Township along a separate abandoned railroad bed which connects the Village of Thompsonville to the Village of Kaleva allowing for immediate use during the winter months by snowmobilers. 


Future Endeavors

Future trail development is in the works!


Latest from our blog

Exciting News!
SMARTrails Encourages Letters of Support for County Hirings

Our board

Rob Carson


Regional Director of Community Development at Networks Northwest

Zachary Pawlowski

Vice President

Marketing And Community Relations – Filer Credit Union | Race Director/Co-Founder NOMI Racing | Friends of SMARTRAILS Manistee trail advocacy

Linda Cudney


Actively involved with many organizations including Cleon Township.

Jacque Erdman


Outdoor ready while keeping multiple organizations in financial check as the treasurer.

Dave Myers


Trail steward and advocate of the outdoors.

Elaine Gibbs


Great supporter of SMART and trail advocate.

Claire Richard


Avid cyclist and advocate for the cycling community.

Mark Coe


President of the Benzie-Manistee Snowbirds and an active advocate who works closely with the DNR to accomplish trailwork.



This position could be you!

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