Saginaw Valley Rail-Trail is a perfect summer escape, since the foliage-drenched corridor offers respite from the sun. This 10-mile trail edges Saginaw's southern boundary before it heads south to St. Charles. Equestrians follow a parallel path that begins at Stroebel Road, where there is plenty of parking, and continues all the way to Martin Road.
From the trailhead, you are in nature's garden. Luscious displays of Queen Anne's lace and wildflowers cluster along the route. Interpretive signs identify many of these species and add a nice touch to your trip. Equally pleasing is the thick carpet of plants flanking much of the trail. The intact canopy of trees makes you feel as if you are in a large forest. The trail provides views of a mix of agricultural and residential land.
About a third of the way through your journey, you will reach a trailhead at the corner of Swan Creek Road and Van Wormer Road that has restrooms, soda machines, drinking fountains and parking. Located between Van Wormer and Benkert roads is a fishing platform, where you may see anglers hoping to snag a trout, perch or smallmouth bass.
There are three pocket parks, complete with wooden gazebos and benches, along the trail. The first is located between Stroebel Road and River Road, the second between Spencer Road and Lakefield Road and the third between Teft Road and Prior Road. These shelters provide opportunities to relax and further soak in the solace of your leafy green surroundings.
The last half of the trail skirts the Shiawassee River State Game Area. This natural area gives you the chance for some excellent wildlife viewing. Stop at the viewing platform at Martin Road and take in the scenery. Watch for geese, ducks, swans and white-tailed deer throughout the year. Lumberjack Park in St. Charles is the end of the line for this straight, wide and smooth trail. The trail ends with a trip across a historical stone railroad trestle bridge and a pretty view of the Bad River.
To start in Saginaw, head south of town on State Route M-46. About 1.25 miles east of State Route M-47 turn right onto S. Center Road. Go 1.75 miles to Stroebel Road. Turn right and go 1.5 miles to the trailhead and parking lot (no facilities).
To start in St. Charles, from the stoplight downtown at Saginaw Street and W. Belle Avenue, go 1 block west on Saginaw to E. Water Street. Turn right and proceed 2 blocks to the trailhead and parking on the left.