Flint River Trail (MI)

Michigan

12 Reviews

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Flint River Trail (MI) Facts

States: Michigan
Counties: Genesee
Length: 27 miles
Trail end points: Chatfield St & N Ballenger Hwy (Flint) and Richfield County Park (6322 N Irish Rd, Davison)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6129794

Flint River Trail (MI) Description

The Flint River Trail system encompasses 27 miles of multi-use, paved trails stretching across Genesee County. Meandering alongside the Flint River and C.S. Mott Lake, the trail passes through a variety of rural, suburban, and urban landscapes. Offering scenic views of Michigan's fields, forests, parks, local flora and fauna, rivers, lakes, and picturesque towns, the Flint River Trail connects numerous neighborhoods and communities. 

From its southern-most endpoint in Flint Township (also known as the Charter Township of Flint), the trail heads northeast through the City of Flint, the Genesee Charter Township, and reaches its northwest endpoint in the Richfield Township. This network includes a number of noteworthy trails that branch off from the main route, as well as shorter spur trails and connector trails. 

A popular place to join the trail is near downtown Flint at the University of Michigan-Flint campus. Heading northeast, the trail runs along both sides of the Flint River for about four miles through the city and towards Stepping Stones Falls. Short connector trails link the parallel trails via pedestrian bridges or protected pathways on bridges crossing the Flint River. At East Boulevard Drive, you can take the Applewood Trail to make a side trip through Kearsley Park and neighborhoods to the east of downtown. Along the way, you will pass through older neighborhoods, a few city parks and learn about Flint's heritage from wayside historical signs.

While the eastern segment comes to an end in the Flint neighborhood of Rollingwood, the trail following the western shore of the Flint River continues through woods and fields before dividing again. The northwest branch of the trail leads to Bluebell Beach on Mott Lake, a popular county park offering plentiful recreation space, and the historic Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad. Continuing along the northeast trail segment takes you past Stepping Stones Falls, a scenic man-made waterfall, and around the eastern side of the lake and up into the Genesee Township. Just before the trail crosses Mott Lake into the Genesee Township, a branch of the trail heads east along the lakeshore to Richfield County Park in the Richfield Township.

In 2010, the trail was extended from the University of Michigan northwest into historic Carriage Town, passing by Atwood Stadium, Chevy Commons County Park at the former "Chevy in the Hole" site, the Kettering University campus, and the charming neighborhood park and recreation area at Mott Park. The Flint River Trail ends west of the McLaren Regional Medical Center by the intersection of North Ballenger Highway and Chatfield Street in Flint Township.

By Chevy Commons County Park where Chevrolet Ave crosses the Flint River, the trail connects with Genesee Valley Trail. Following a former rail corridor to the southwest from Chevy Commons, the Genesee Valley Trail connects homes and shopping destinations in Flint Township to the trail network. 

The trail also has an active friends group, the Friends of the Flint River Trail, which organizes weekly bike rides and other activities along the trail.

The locations of restrooms and water stations are marked on TrailLink map. 

Parking and Trail Access

Trail access and parking lots are available at numerous points along the route. View the TrailLink map to plan your trip and to see all the parking options.

The Genesee County public transit system also provides access to the trail. More information can be found on the MTA Flint website

Flint River Trail (MI) Reviews

Map is outdated. Fun Ride.

I really enjoyed this trail everywhere east of Dort Highway. The trails west of Dort aren’t the best, and the area is somewhat sketchy. The people I saw waved at me, but I’m more worried about dogs than people. That’s just me personally. The map is outdated and the trails actually extend pretty far east of where it stops on the map. It extends east of Genesee RD along Stanley RD until Vassar RD. Then, the trail runs along the river from Vassar RD to Richfield Park (Parking available if you want to start here). The trail extends into Richfield Park for about a half mile, then you can follow Gravel Roads, and trails for a few more miles! I rode a gravel bike so I really enjoyed this area! There’s even DIY single track north of the rail trail in the Vassar RD area. Look on the north side of the trail, and you will see multiple access trails. My gravel bike handled them just fine. I wouldn’t try them though unless your an experienced rider because they run along a cliff that overlooks the river and it’s really rooted. You might lose your bike if you slip up! I would give it 5 stars, but the trail west of Dort Highway dropped it to 4.

Sunshine on the Flint River Trail

The trail north of Carpenter Rd is very nice and well maintained. It appears that this part of the trail is very popular as it goes through Stepping Stone Falls (which is very pretty). The trail south of Carpenter Rd is not very well maintained: broken pavement, lots of debris, many fallen limbs. All in all, had a great time. Beautiful 72 degree weather in November.

Interesting ride

It's a fairly good trail, its good to know that the trail runs on both sides of the Flint River and also goes through some rough areas of the city. It is one of the more interesting trails I've rode, depending on where you go there's a lot to see, such as Stepping Stones Falls, Bluebell Beach, The Abandoned Flint Water Plant (Don't try to enter) and a lot of other cool things. It's also good to know this trail connects to other trails when it ends so you should know when you want to stop. The trails worst part is between the University of Michigan Flint and Dort Hwy, This area runs through a rough neighborhood and the trail needs repairs but it is a short ride. If you're riding north and reach Dort Hwy make sure to take the trail behind the water plant, if you take the trail of E Boulevard Dr it will take you behind an abandoned school and then end. I've probably rode this trail a hundred times by now, I've never had an encounter with someone who wanted to rob me, but it does happen occasionally, so stay cautious and try to bring somebody with you. Other than it's a good ride with some city sights, some beautiful nature, and some history.

Linking Genesee Parks to Downtown Flint and Beyond

I would give this 5 Stars for everything north of Dort Highway! Definitely would recommend the northern segments traveling through the Genesee Recreational Area.

I tackled most of this trail entirely on inline skates starting from Kettering University to where it splits at Stepping Stone Falls. From the Falls, the trail links to Bluebell Beach and then back around through the Bluegill Boat Launch park. From Bluegill, the trail continues East as part of the huge ongoing Michigan Iron Belle Trail project! I have not yet skated on the two short branches that end at McLaren Hospital and Mott Community College.

The northern segment past Dort Hwy. winds through the woods surrounding Mott Lake with plenty of gradual slopes. The very twisty segment through Bluegill is a blast on inline skates!

The urban segments of the trail start by McLaren Hospital and Kettering University and then passes Atwood Stadium and Carriage Town into downtown Flint. In the downtown segment you can pass through UofM's campus and branch over to Mott CC. This urban section is pretty fun on skates and is a nice change of pace from my usual skate through wooded areas!

Now I would caution users traveling between 5th Ave and Dort Highway that this segment passes through a rougher residential area and is not very well maintained. As it currently is, I would consider this the skippable segment which knocked one star off of my rating. Now maybe this segment has a brighter future since it is part of the ongoing MI Iron Belle Trail project, but I am unaware if there are any current plans for renovation.

With that being said, there are several volunteer organizations in addition to the police that patrol the trail to keep it safe for all users. The Genesee Rec. Area definitely feels very safe throughout and again I highly recommend the northern portions of trail.

Accordion

DO NOT GO!

Despite parking in a lovely parking lot at the farmers market, the trail is currently closed (it is June 18 2017) and the neighboring areas are NOT safe. The city is a bit disheveled and the trails leading to the main (closed trail) were in disrepair and not well marked. Scenes of barbed wire and trash lined river beds were all we got to see before we turned around and headed home quickly.

Flint River Trail

Our first time on this trail. WELL MARKED, signs everywhere as trail stemmed off. When it went on roads, they weren't crowded and sign let you know how long you'd be on the road (from 350ft-1mile). Needs some trimming of branches, but generally good condition. Best part was seeing Bluebell Beach, a Genesee County Park that was beautiful and a gem, although this was after the summer season. We started at old Farmers Market/Habitat for Humanity Restore area and took it north. Wandered through park, including seeing a Traveling Viet Nam Memorial wall area, and used that as our turn around point. Took trail on west side of river on return and it was 13 miles.

Needs sprucing up

My first time on the trail was Tuesday. I saw some beautiful area's and some not so beautiful area's. When I got to that abandoned school (e.Blvd dr) the trail stopped. And behind the apts it's a lot of branches so I was literally riding in someone's back yard. If the trail was maintained and more signs put out it would make the ride much more enjoyable.

Take the Northern side of the Flint river at the University

The western end of the trail starts just north of the McLaren hospital on the south side of the river. This portion is very urban and I learn that concrete flood controls are a prominent portion of the river through this urban zone.

Once reaching the University of Michigan, I find my myself riding along buildings at a school I attended 30 years ago. I keep to the south side of the river moving away from the school.

The track turns narrow and in need of repair. However, the river begins to look much better in this area. I can imagine what the area once appeared 100 years ago and understand why Flint became a major city. Look towards the river and not towards the subsidized housing. The housing is tightly packed with doors every 15 feet or so. All I can see is potential. Unfortunately, the trail ended unexpectedly at what appears to be a bombed out elementary school. No signs provide clues to what happened to the trail. I know from a map that large lake juts out in just a few more miles. I would have loved to have seen it.

Proceeding back the way I came, I cross the river at the first bridge in view. I find the North side of the river much more pleasing to the eye. Riding through park after urban parks provides a pleasing contrast to the south side of the river. A Schnauzer walking his owner decides to give me closed mouth kiss along the way at a cool 10 miles an hour. Fortunately, rider and four footed creature appear to be unhurt in the exchange.

I cross quickly back to the south side at the University of Michigan campus. Two miles further West is Kettering University. It appears that in a few years, the two may meet in the middle as both appear to be equal in size from what I've seen. I can see the future of Flint and it rests in education.

When riding near water either on bicycle or kayak, I often see plenty of water fowl. It should be late enough in the year to see plenty. However, on this trek I see a a pair of Canadian Geese, startling them into the water as I move closer to the river for a better view. Perhaps it's still early in the season, but I was very disappointed at the sheer lack of any wildlife.

most riders forget the trail continues

When riding the flint river trail if you continue going beyond Stepping Stones you ride on branch road beyond the closed road section and the trail picks up again and contines for another 5 miles to.Stanley and Genesee roads. I might add that it is simply gorgeous.

Love the Flint River Trail

I ride the Flint River Trail frequently and I enjoy every mile. You Begin the trail across the street from McLaren Hospital at Ballenger Hwy and Sunset Dr. Then you ride past Kettering University where you will do different level grade hills as you approach near downtown Flint. You also have the opportunity to visit the location of the Durant Dort Headquarters which is the birthplace of General Motors Corporation.


Once near downtown Flint you can detour to downtown and have lunch at one of the local eateries. From there you go through U of M Flint then on to Flint Farmers Market which is considered one of Michigan best farmers markets. However it will be moving to downtown Flint in 2014.

After you go past the farmer market to begin to traverse along the Flint River. There are a few parks that you past tnrough which are great if you packed a lunch or enjoy the view. You do past under the interstate I475 however depending on which side of the river you are on you either past through a residential area which is in my opinion nice and quaint, its a older neighborhood and quite charming.

Once you get to Dort Hwy you cross over to the old water plant, there you begin riding through meadows and wooded areas. Once you get to Carpenter Road you cross over to Genesee Recreational Area. There you continue to ride a asphalt trail to either Blue Bell Beach or Stepping Stone Falls. Round trip this is about 17 miles.

This trail gives you beautiful scenery, great attractions and most of all all the joy of bike riding anyone could ask for.

For those not from the area...

Just a warning about the safety of the trail. If you are not from Flint, you should know that this trail goes through some rough neighborhoods and under bridges frequented by the homeless and users. While this does not mean you will be harmed, and it is definitly not the worst part of Flint, you should be cautious. I do not recomend riding this trail alone if traveling all the way to the beach from the Farmers Market. The areas between the Farmers Market and Mott Park are about the safest. The areas by the beach are ok too. The trail is not well kept either: cracks, overgrowth and street travel.

I still ride this trail myself and with my wife. However, if you are concerned about riding in less safe areas, then you should find another trail to ride.

Trail

The 17 miles is a round trip number riding bothsides of the river.

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