North Eastern State Trail

Trail Map

Description Suggest an Edit

The North Eastern State Trail is the longest in the Top of Michigan Trails Council system: 71 miles. The trail is also known as the Alpena to Cheboygan Trail and formerly as the Cheboygan-Hawks Rail Trail.

Surfaced in smooth, crushed limestone, the North Eastern State Trail (NEST) offers an extended journey for snowmobilers, hikers, bikers, and equestrians through some of the most remote and unpopulated regions of the state. The trail follows an old Detroit & Mackinaw Railway line, first developed in the late 1800s to ship Michigan's vast supplies of timber to points beyond. What loggers didn't haul out was left on the ground, setting the stage for devastating forest fires in the early 20th century and turning entire towns into ash. Many of the towns were never rebuilt. The most recent owners of the line, Detroit and Mackinac Railway, abandoned operations in 1992, allowing the right-of-way to be turned over to outdoor recreationists.

The trail passes through the hearts of some communities, as well as near state parks and recreation sites, boat launches and campgrounds. Yet it's remote in other areas, and you won't see a building for miles along this incredible corridor. From its wetlands and woodlands to all sorts of waterways, the North Eastern State Trail offers an incredible wealth of scenery. Wildlife abounds: coyote, fox, deer, raccoon, elk, black bear and beavers inhabit the area. A wide variety of bird species will please twitchers.

History buffs will like this trail, too, as the route takes in old logging towns, railroad stops, and even the town where wooden steering wheels for cars were once manufactured—Onaway. In Millersburg, the halfway point, the last remaining railroad depot stands; it has been renovated into a history museum. Construction of a year-round trailhead at the Millersburg Depot is planned for 2012.

There is a new trailhead in Cheboygan with restrooms, parking and a shelter. This trailhead also serves the North Central State Trail. At the southern end the trail in Alpena, the route connects to the Alpena Bi-Path via Woodward Avenue on the north end of Alpena.

For more details about each segment of the Alpena to Cheboygan Trail, visit the Top of Michigan Trails Council website.

Parking and Trail Access

Trail access is available in several towns along its length, including Posen, Hawks, Millersburg, Onaway, Aloha and the end points of Alpena and Cheboygan. For more information, contact:

City of Cheboygan Parks & Rec
400 Cleveland Avenue

Alpena City Hall
208 North First Ave.


Aloha to Downtown Cheboygan and back

   July, 2013 by lfeather1213

My friend and I ride this at least once a year and it is a very nice ride. We always see deer, many different types of birds and we are always joined by dragonflys that fly along with us! I ride a hybrid and it is fine on the hard pack/crushed stone. more

North Eastern State Trail

   June, 2012 by brianeyre

I rode this trail on the 2012 summer solstice . "HOT" weather but cool trail . The area had some severe weather that had washed out some of the drain culverts but a constuction crew was doing repairs . The weekend of June 23 , all the towns along the more

Alpena-Posen segment good but has some problems

   April, 2012 by jhansonxi

20120413: Rode a TerraTrike Rover from Alpena to Posen to Sunken Lake Park campground and back. About 50 miles, mostly on the trail. Not a bad trail but there are some problems. There isn't a sidewalk where it crosses US-23. If you are approaching more