The story of the 41-mile Fred Meijer Heartland Trail is one of generosity, dedication and can-do attitudes. Fred and Lena Meijer helped purchase the abandoned corridor in 1994, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy held it for safekeeping and a very active citizens group took over the trail's operation and development in 2000. Since then the corridor has blossomed into a scenic asphalt trail from the northern edge of Greenville to Edmore.
From Lake Road in Greenville to the Village of Edmore, you will find a peaceful 22-mile stretch through prime agricultural lands, woods, meadows, wetlands and small historic towns. You can turn right on Sidney Road and head east about 1.5 miles to the Heritage Village at Montcalm Community College, a cluster of 20 historical buildings with artifacts depicting life in Michigan at the turn of the 20th century. While the grounds are open year-round, visitors to the annual Heritage Festival in August, and other special events throughout the year, can enter many of these buildings, including a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop and a town jail. Costumed reenactments make history come alive at those times.
A historic 1887 trestle bridge (former road bridge) gets you over Fish Creek at Mile 6, halfway between Sidney and Stanton. Just two miles from Stanton, at Mile 5.5, the trail passes through the first of two wildlife areas along this trail, the Stanton State Game Area. In the warm months, the trail is abloom with many native wildflowers, all of which are documented and on display at the herbarium exhibit at Montcalm Community College.
Another trailside attraction paying tribute to the past is the Railroad Worker Memorial in Stanton at Mile 7.5. Stanton, the seat of Montcalm County, offers a variety of eateries, from fast food to home cooking, and a few local shops that carry clothing and other supplies. Back on the trail, you run right up to the Mid-Michigan Motorplex Dragstrip at Mile 9.5, where you may be able to catch a glimpse of the dragsters being put through their paces in the warmer months.
The historic town of Edmore is next, at Mile 14.5, with memorabilia at the Old Fence Rider Museum and in the local antique shops. It is here that the trail sharply changes direction from north to east as you make your way toward Vestaburg.
Halfway there the trail travels through the Vestaburg State Game Area. This area, so rich with the natural beauty of woods and waters, became even better environs for wildlife when the water washed out the rail corridor in the mid-1980s and the beaver and other wetland species took residence. The beauty of this section is that the trail goes for 2.5 miles without a single road crossing. Many white-tailed deer, fox, muskrat and other animals can be spotted traversing this open space along the way.
A short trail link at Mile 25 to Cedar Lake Academy, a Seventh Day Adventist school, presents a most unique historic artifacta two-story outhouse. The story has it that the local hotel owner had seven daughters living with him on the hotel's second floor. He did not want them to interact with the railroad workers and lumberjacks who frequented the first floor, and so he provided them with their own outhouse.
The town of Riverdale, at Mile 33, boasts the Riverdale Museum, where you can visit a restored one-room schoolhouse and cross the Pine River trestle bridge. The town of Elwell, 2 miles farther, has limited services for trail users, but your journey ends 4 miles later in the largest town along the trail: Alma, the home of Alma College and many grocery stores, a bike shop and several other businesses.
Parking and Trail Access
The Lake Road entrance to the trail holds a couple cars, but is not an official trailhead. You may find parking at many of the cross streets, and at a sizeable shared use parking lot at Sidney, but the official trailheads are in Stanton, McBride, and Edmore.
To start the trail in Greenville, follow Lafayette Street north out of Greenville to County Farm Road. Turn right on Lake Rd. Turn left and continue a half mile to the trailhead.
To start in Edmore, take State Highway M-46 in downtown Edmore to 3rd Street. Turn south on 3rd Street to reach the trailhead.
there is a 2 story out house jus as you cross cedar lake/academy road about 4 miles east of edmore... its on the left as u go across the road about 40 yards or so... you cant miss it as it sticks up over everything. the whole trail is paved since they ...
Early October of 2011 we rode 25 miles of it out and back starting at the Lake Road trail-head near Greenville. This was a great trail that ran through a variety of scenery. Farms and forest, a couple stream crossings with small towns along the way. At ...
Searching for south trailhead is almost over.
Three cheers!! Extension of the trail from Lake Road into Greenville is currently underway and scheduled to be complete sometime this fall! It will follow Lake Road south, then Peck Road west to the former rail crossing at Peck. From there it will pick ...