Michigan Trails Magazine and Website are dedicated to providing you with the most accurate maps and information on Michigan's growing network of non-motorized, multi-use trails.
This website is published by trail people for trail people with information you need to enjoy a great day (or more) exploring Michigan trails. Use it to plan your next trail adventure.
We have personally hiked, biked or rollerbladed every trail presented in this website to verify trail routes, surface conditions, public access areas, amenities and points of interest.
View more than 1,100 original photos. Browse and Search our site. Enjoy our Michigan Trails photos, maps and resources.
In today's crazy, complex, gigabyte-per-second world, thank goodness we've got our trails. Nothing virtual about this reality. It's all real.
Fill your lungs with fresh air. Immerse your senses in the natural beauty as you run, walk, rollerblade or ride your favorite trail - or discover a new one - in Michigan's growing network of trails, rail trails, trailways, pathways, bikeways, greenways, riverwalks and linear parks. These are no ordinary trails. Each one has its own character - and offers its own adventure - and you'll find them all here in the 2016 edition of Michigan Trails Magazine, ready for your enjoyment.
What started as the rails-to-trails movement in the 1970s, converting abandoned railways into recreational corridors, has evolved and blossomed into a cultural phenomenon as communities, grass roots groups and state agencies work together to develop recreational trails throughout the Great Lake State. Michigan is now the #1 Trails State in the nation with more than 2,700 miles of rail-trails, and our miles of trails just keep growing.
As the trail movement has grown, so too has our magazine and this website, which each now include more than 100 of Michigan's non-motorized, multi-use trails. Michigan Trails Magazine and website are dedicated to providing you with the most accurate maps and information available so you can plan and enjoy a great day on the trails. Published by trail people for trail people, we've personally hiked, biked or rollerbladed each trail presented in this website to verify trail routes, surface conditions, public access areas and points of interest. You'll see some of the photos we've shot along our travels and many that have been submitted by our readers.
Fueled by a groundswell of public support, Michigan's network of trails is constantly changing, as new trails are built and existing trails are extended, improved, completed or restored. Here are a few of the highlights you will read about in our 2016 edition:
The North Western State Trail is now completed and ready to ride. In late August 2015, construction crews finished spreading and compacting finely screened limestone on the 23 miles of former rail line north of Alanson. Road crossings, signage and restoration of a bridge south of Pellston were completed last fall. An official opening should happen sometime this spring.
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail was extended another 3.7 miles from Fischer Road to Port Oneida Road in late June of 2015. Three more miles are scheduled to be built from Port Oneida Road to Bohemian Road this summer.
The 22-mile William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail was completely rebuilt, repaved and widened to 10 feet during the summer of 2015. This should definitely be on your trail rider's wish list for this summer.
The Upper Macatawa Greenway Trail was completed this past summer, pro-viding a critical link between the Holland Metro Trails Network and the Fred Meijer Kenowa Trail that leads to the Grand Rapids metro area.
The Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Rail Trail was extended and paved 1.75 miles from downtown Ionia to the Prairie Creek Bridge, connecting with the new Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia- Shiawassee Rail Trail. The project included construction of a beautiful pedestrian bridge that now carries trail users over busy M-66 in downtown Ionia.
Explore the 15-mile Portland Riverwalk. This network of classic rail trail and urban bike paths offers you a scenic tour along the Grand and Looking Glass rivers through "The City of Two Rivers."
The Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail is nearing completion and makes its debut this year. It travels along the St. Joseph River on an abandoned rail line from Niles, Michigan, to South Bend and Mishawaka, Indiana, and the campus of Notre Dame University.
The 4.5-mile section of the Van Buren Trail State Park from South Haven to Van Buren State Park campground was paved with asphalt this past fall. Visit this famous beach town for a scenic ride on this new pavement.
The Delhi Township Trails and South Lansing Pathway were completed in 2014 and have been added to our trail guide this year. This growing network of trails is connected to the Lansing River Trail.
The newest section of the Border-to-Border Trail, from Hudson Mills Metropark to Dexter-Huron Metropark in Washtenaw County, was completed and added to our trail guide.
The I-275 Metro Trail from Hines Park to Willow Metropark was repaved, widened and completed in the fall of 2015, providing an important connector to the Downriver Linked Greenways East-West Trail along the Huron River.
The 4.5-mile Genesee Valley Trail was opened in the summer of 2015. This new paved rail trail was built on an abandoned railroad that once served the original Chevrolet assembly plant in downtown Flint, which has since been demolished and converted into a park called the Chevy Commons. The trail is connected to the Flint River Trail, which was also expanded last fall from Stepping Stone Falls through Genesee Recreation Area, and is part of the Michigan Iron Belle Trail biking route.
Michigan's Iron Belle Trail
In 2014, as part of a statewide trails initiative, Governor Rick Snyder challenged the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan for a continuous trail from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula. As the idea gained momentum, it eventually evolved into two trails: a 1,260-mile hiking route that largely follows the North Country National Scenic Trail through the Lower and Upper Peninsula, and a 774-mile biking route that will run up the eastern side of the Lower Peninsula, connecting with several existing trails, and racing across the Upper Peninsula on the US-2 Bike Route. A statewide contest was conducted to give this epic trail a name, and the "Iron Belle Trail" was the winning entry. Several sections of the new Iron Belle Trail were developed this past year and several more sections of the trail have been approved for funding with construction planned in the coming year. We will monitor these projects as they progress and keep you posted on their progress in future editions of the magazine.
Show Me The Money
Of course, none of Michigan's trails would exist today without the funding and advocacy that was needed to purchase property, engineer plans, build the infrastructure and see them through to completion. Trails start out in a variety of ways. Usually, a "friends" group is formed to raise the initial "local share" of funding to get the project or "dream" off the ground. Once in a blue moon, a philanthropic grocer such as Fred Meijer, or visionary farmer such as Lonnie Kester, will step up to purchase the property or provide initial funding. But that's rare.
In most circumstances, the vast majority of funding for trail acquisition and development comes from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund or a Michigan Department of Transportation TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) grant, or quite often, both programs combined with local funding. Take a look at the approved grants and funding. This will show you what trails are currently funded for development and should be available for use within the next few years. You'll notice that many sections of the Iron Belle Trail are now funded for construction.
Don't Fear the Limestone
When Michigan's first rail trails, the Paint Creek Trail and Kal-Haven Trail State Park, were established in the early 1980s, it was a new concept here in our state. Both trails were surfaced with limestone because that's what trail developers did (and continue to do) in Wisconsin, which was several year's ahead of Michigan in rails-to-trails conversions. The Hart-Montague Trail was the first rail trail to be paved with asphalt. People loved it, and it soon became the popular standard here in Michigan. Yea, we've been spoiled.
Hundreds of miles of Michigan's most scenic rail trails are surfaced with finely screened and compacted limestone. The reason is simple: cost. You can surface a trail with limestone for about a quarter of the cost of asphalt, and ongoing main-tenance costs less as well. Limestone is surprisingly smooth. It's a little softer and requires more pedal power. The fine grit can cause wear on your tires, gears and chain. If you run the trails, you'll find the softer surface a little easier on your body and more foregiving.
I've ridden every limestone trail in Michigan, and I can tell you first hand, you'll enjoy every mile of these trails if you are prepared and ride the right equipment. First of all, allow yourself more time to ride. Ride on tires that are at least one inch wide. The wider the tire the better. Mountain bikes work great. Front shocks reduce fatigue. Fenders will keep the dust off you. Lubricate your chain and gears before you ride and about every 20 miles or so, and make sure to clean your chain and gears before your next ride.
Our Website: MiTrails.org
All of the maps and information you see in Michigan Trails Magazine are available here on our website. Simply click on the name of the trail you would like to visit. Each trail map has been formatted to be viewed on your computer or mobile device, downloaded as a PDF, or printed on your desktop printer. Check out our Trail Event Listings page to see a listing of upcoming events taking place on Michigan trails. You can submit your own event information to post there free of charge. One of the unique features of the Michigan Trails website is our Lodging, Food, Attractions and Services page, which allows you to find lodging, tourist attractions, bike & fitness shops, food, restaurants, ice cream shops and other resources, sorted by trail region.
Michigan Trails Magazine and website are entirely funded by our advertisers. Please do business with them and let them know where you saw their ads. Without their advertising support, this magazine and website would not be possible.
See you on the trails.
Rob Pulver, publisher
Michigan Trails Magazine