The 17-mile Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Rail Trail is getting closer to completion. During the summer and fall of 2015, another 1.75 miles of paved trail was extended east from downtown Ionia to the Prairie Creek bridge and the Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee (CIS) Rail Trail. The project also included construction of a beautiful new pedestrian bridge providing safe passage over busy M-66. The Michigan DNR is currently seeking funding to complete the 7-mile section of trail connecting Saranac with the City of Lowell.
The first 8.25 miles of trail from Saranac to Ionia was completed in 2013. This exceptionally scenic section of trail travels along the edge of the Grand River and through the Ionia State Recreation Area, with no road crossings, for a peaceful, serene commune with nature. It also includes an amazing five restored railroad bridges, including one towering bridge spanning 466 feet across the mighty Grand River. Trail users have reported a lot of wildlife sightings along this stretch of trail, including whitetail deer, turkey, great horned owls, eagles, a wide range of waterfowl, and even the rare pine marten.
The trail surface consists of about one mile of asphalt pavement through Saranac, and about 3.75 miles of pavement through the City of Ionia, with the rest of the trail in between surfaced with finely screened and compacted crushed limestone. Saranac and Ionia offer plenty of parking, stores and eating establishments. The Saranac Depot serves as the trailhead in Saranac and includes a nature trail, picnic area, restrooms and a historical museum, all situated beside the river. In down- town Ionia, public parking is available on Adams Street, one block east of the new M-66 bridge.