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The trail can be accessed from I-475 at Robert T. Longway Blvd. (exit 8B if coming from the north, exit 8A if coming from the south). Parking is available in the lot next to the Flint Farmers Market at Robert T. Longway Blvd.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 17 miles is a round trip number riding bothsides of the river.
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