Mural in Ypsilanti

In order to transform the Huron River corridor into a destination location for people beyond our immediate area, communities along the river need to face toward the riverfront and not away from it. It’s imperative that public and private institutions literally face the Huron and make it an essential part of community experience. One way we are achieving this is the development of the 104-mile Huron River Water Trail. Imagine spending several days staying at B&Bs, eating at waterfront restaurants, visiting local museums and attending music festivals or art fairs. When combined with a robust higher education environment, including a world-class university, the rich talent pool it attracts could be a powerful stimulus to our regional economy. It pays to RiverUp!

PROJECTS: *Asterisk indicates project in progress/planned


What is the economic impact of the river corridor to local communities? How popular is the river for outdoor recreation? What is the value of preserving the natural areas and water quality of the river to local communities? This 2017 report from Grand Valley State University provides answers.


Our work focuses on the Angstrom Automotive Group property at Spring Street, Ypsilanti, and the DTE Energy property at Broadway Street, Ann Arbor, and transforming these polluted riverfront properties into community assets.


We worked with local artisans and contractors to install unique benches designed to mimic the river’s curvy path.

Bench with river inspired design


The 5 largest communities on the river are becoming destinations for users of the water trail, hike-bike trails, and equestrian trails in order to improve the trail user experience and encourage them to spend more time in each community.

In Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock, water trail users are greeted by FOUR-SIDED STONE KIOSKS with information about the HRWT and trail-based amenities in each town

Trail Town Strategic Plan

Milford Kiosk


Our team led visioning exercises in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock to Lake Erie to create planning maps and hold community conversations. Through this process, each Trail Town developed a TRAIL TOWN STRATEGIC PLAN for communicating its identity as a Trail Town and to prioritize projects. Examples include:

  • Ypsilanti’s AUTOMOTIVE HERITAGE TRAIL DISTRICT spans from downtown Ypsilanti to the Ford Lake Dam and connects trail users to the community’s auto and labor movement history through interpretive signs with MotorCities and audio stories
  • *A HERITAGE INTERPRETIVE PLAN for the Downriver segment is being developed with the DNR and local partners, with an eye on extending the plan to the entire HRWT
  • *RIVER-RELATED BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT A new riverfront brewery in Milford. Two new kayak and canoe outfitters in Flat Rock, and a new one in Dexter. Expanded services from existing outfitters to meet the demand, and fly-fishing guide shops with ever-increasing following. And more on the way.
  • *CANOE AND KAYAK LOCKERS: We created an inspired design for safe and attractive storage solutions in the Trail Towns. Prototype installation in Ann Arbor’s Bandemer Park in 2017.
This locker in Ann Arbor can house life jackets, paddles, and up to 12 boats
Automotive Heritage Trail District, Ypsilanti


Detroit Institute of the Arts Inside | Out 2015 exhibit

In 2015, the Trail Towns sought to be the first multi-location installation of the popular DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS INSIDE|OUT ARTS program. Art installations were from the vantage point of paddlers on the HRWT.

Dexter Mill Creek Park


Several trail systems follow the Huron River like the Border-to-Border Trail, Downriver Linked Greenways, Lakelands Trail, and the Governor’s Iron Belle Trail. Our work supports trail development, connection to the water trail, and elevating the outdoor recreation sector in southeastern Michigan


on Fleming Creek, Superior Township: Park visitors will be delighted and surprised by an experiential art + play concept to celebrate water meeting land.