Michigan's newest rails-to-trails conversion, the 42-mile Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Rail Trail was completed in the spring of 2015. It gets its name from the three counties it spans on the former Central Michigan Railroad. The abandoned rail corridor was acquired by the state of Michigan in 2007 and developed by the DNR through a broad coalition of federal, state and local funding.
Perfect for day rides of just about any distance, the trail goes through the center of several quaint farming towns, where you will find easy access to local stores, eateries and ice cream shops. It also runs parallel to highway M-21, offering convenient access. The trail was developed with a new trailway design concept, where the "Town & Village Zones" are paved with asphalt and the "Rural and Natural Zones" are surfaced with finely screened limestone.
The developed trail currently begins at the Prairie Creek Bridge east of Ionia and crosses over the Maple River east of Muir. It then travels through the heart of Michigan farm country before it crosses the headwaters of the Maple River in Ovid on its way to Owosso. A nice canopy of trees shelters the trail most of the way. At Smith Road, west of Owosso, a designated, signed bike route guides you into downtown Owosso.
Trail planners envision future rail-trail connections and extensions to downtown Owosso and east to Durand. The undeveloped section of trail from M-66 in Ionia to the Prairie Creek Bridge should be completed within the next two years. The Fred and Lena Meijer Foundation established an endowment fund to maintain the trail into perpetuity.