Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail


22 Reviews

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Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail Facts

States: Michigan
Counties: Ionia, Kent, Montcalm
Length: 22 miles
Trail end points: Jackson's Landing Park on E Washington St/SR 57 (Greenville) and Foreman St East, west of Beech St (Lowell)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6712196

Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail Description

The Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail links the cities of Lowell, Belding and Greenville in Kent, Ionia and Montcalm counties, respectively. Running along a former railroad corridor, the trail is the first rail-trail in Michigan to be surfaced with finely screened and compacted recycled asphalt, which makes a smooth and firm surface. Traveling primarily through hardwood forests and quiet farmland, trail makes for a scenic and accessible route perfect for recreation and commuting alike. 

The 2.3-mile stretch in Belding between Long Lake Road and State Street heads through the community's downtown and features three restored trestles over the Flat River.

The trail is an integral component of the Mid-West Michigan Rail-Trail Network, which will eventually stretch 125 miles from Owosso to Alma. Like the other pathways in the system, the trail is named after Fred Meijer, the grocery magnate and philanthropist who generously contributed financially to its development. In Greenville, trail users can connect directly to the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail at Jackson’s Landing Park on East Washington Street/State Route 57. The trail makes a scenic loop around Greenville. A short trip north on the local trail also leads directly to the paved Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, which stretches north 41 miles to Alma.

At the trail’s southern end in Lowell, the trail will one day meet an extension of the Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Rail Trail, allowing trail users to travel to Saranac and Ionia and, via the Fred Meijer CIS Trail, farther east to St. Johns and Owosso.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking for the Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail can be found in Greenville at Jackson’s Landing Park on E. Washington Street/SR 57 and in Belding at a park located at the intersection of Depot Street and Broas Street. Additional parking locations will be made available as the trail is improved.

Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail Reviews

Don't pet the snappers

We enjoyed this ride, all 45 miles, from Creekside Park in Lowell to Greenville and back. The surface wasn't nice asphalt, but kinda rough. Some areas were worn smoothish from use - so not terrible. But we will were able to keep a good pace. The bathrooms in Belding were locked on the Saturday morning of Memorial weekend, but there was a lovely porta potty we could use. What's the point of bathrooms if we can't use them? (Side note, the bathrooms at Creekside Park in Lowell were unlocked and very nice. The sign on the bathrooms said they opened at 10 am, but we were there earlier than that and they were open. Thanks, Lowell.)

We saw several turtles, including a few snappers that appeared to be laying eggs on the edge of the path, but we didn't too close to verify that because we like to keep our fingers. Also saw some deer, a quail, birds, and a bunny.

Beware, southbound once you get around Smyrna there is a long uphill section. Not steep because trains are wimpier than I am, but it was a long section.

I'm a "Never Paver"

I've been running a couple different out and back stretches between McPherson Ave and Greenville about three times a week from spring to fall for about 4 years now.
I can see how the surface might not be good for skinny wheel bikes in areas, but for runners. the surface is pretty great. Not only is it a softer impact surface than asphalt, even better, no crown in the path is needed to shed water. No crown means a perfect flat surface across the path. I can run on the sides, out of biker's way, and not have one leg travelling farther than the other to make up for the drop in the crown, screwing up my hips and back.
Sounds amazing underfoot, too.
Not to mention the nature and surroundings.
I ran by a fawn sleeping right in the middle of the path a couple days ago. Eagles, Sand Hill Cranes, Fox, all kinds of water birds. It's amazing.

Please never pave this path. Touch it up here and there, but no asphalt.

Rough Riding

Originally saw how nice the trail was in Lowell, decided to ride to Belding and back. After first few miles of beautiful trails it quickly became quite rough, actually very rough. We made it round trip but will definitely not be back. It’s unfortunate it’s not being maintained. We live closer to and have ridden the Kal Haven Trail which is a lot nicer. Also surprised there are no restrooms anywhere on the trail.

really rough asphalt

From building to Greenville is a good 5 miles of extremely rough asphalt, almost crushed gravel, and it about shook my innards out


Lowell to Smyrna ride was great!

July 2022 - Started in Lowell and rode north about 12mi to Smyrna and came back. It was a great trail. The first mile or two was paved, then it switched to well maintained crushed gravel. Most of it was very solid, with a few wet parts that were a bit soft but easily passible on a fat tire e-bike. While there were roughly 10 road crossings, it was very rural with most of your view being pasture, woods, ponds, and farm fields. I saw multiple deer, woodchuck, birds, and other wildlife. They were harvesting haybales at the farms, so that was cool to see as well. The trail was well traveled, so it felt remote yet safe given all the other walkers, runners, and bikers around.

Great Trail

May 2022, we started in Lowell at Trailhead (parked at Creekside Park) and rode to Belding. Trail starts with blacktop then changes to crushed asphalt. Trail is in excellent condition for hybrid bikes. Beautiful countryside. This is a must-do trail! We’ll do Belding to Greenville and back next time.

Great trail option for staying off roads!

Previous reviewer had it pretty accurate for the Lowell to Belding stretch. Paved in the cities, leads to hard-pack (like crushed gravel/old asphalt but highly compressed) with some dirt mixed in. Mtb bikes, hybrids and gravel bikes will not have any problems here; I rode an average 15MPH from 4 Mile (Lowell side) up to north of Belding and back on a gravel bike, very few soft spots and they were marked for repair. And I'm a larger guy, but no worries about tires. Land around the trails was beautiful!

great trail for almost any bike

I have ridden this trail from Greenville to mile marker 94 it crosses several roads. it is mostly solid surface but there is loose gravel in places. There are benches every mile from Greenville to Belding if you need a break. from Belding to Lowell there are benches but they are around 3 miles apart. there are no real hills with only about 100ft of elevation change total. No place to camp as most of the land is private along the trail. The trail is owned by the state with maintenance provide by Ron Gunderson and the, He is on the trail daily his is the only vehicle you will likely see. He does a great job at maintaining the trail

Flat River Gem

This trail is incredibly well maintained and could be ridden with a road bike however gravel tires are best.

Only one busy intersection at Lincoln Lake Road, most others are gravel roads with good sight lines making it safe to see approaching car traffic.

I sincerely hope this doesn't get paved as the gravel experience is unlike cement or asphalt AND it moves moisture away nicely...

Recently (late November 2020) the trail was swept and loose spots at several intersections were addressed making it literally the best gravel trail I've ridden yet..

Great Gravel Trail

I ride my bike from Lowell to Greenville - this is one of the nicest trails in MI! The gravel is a special composite for biking and walking. It is well maintained and scenic with mostly flat rides through forest and farmlands.

so scenic and quiet

Ran from Greenville. Towards Belding. First mile is paved. Then gravel. Great scenery. Definitely will do again.

One of the best trails in West Michigan

Wow! Recently updated and paved. Such a great scenic route north. Walked 8 miles and so much wildlife and amazing scenery. Park at Creekside Park and walk a few minutes to the trail head.

new trail between Greenville & Belding

Fun ride a with a few crossroads ; hope they put up the trail crossing signs soon drivers flying by

decent trail but bumpy ride

Rode this today 5/3/20. The path itself is nice and wide but the gravel makes for a very bumpy ride. The scenery was pleasant but the best part of the trail was the two miles of pavement in Belding. If you’re trying to do a long ride find a different trail.

Love this trail

The new improved trail is a hidden gem. I run often from Foreman north. It has a slight incline which is great for doing negative splits when I run an out and back

Too bad they graveled this trail instead of paving it.

If paved with asphalt, this would be a great, scenic trail. Unfortunately there is a crushed asphalt, gravel surface not suitable for road bikes, recumbents or anything without fat tires.

From Lowell - not ready yet

The trail starting from Foreman Street in Lowell is still a rocky rough ride. The rails are gone, but that's about as far as it has progressed.


I was riding from Alma to Greenville (FM Heartland), Greenville to Lowell (FM Flat River), Lowell to Ionia (FM Grand River), Ionia to Fowler (FM Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee), then roads back to Alma.

On the FM Flat River segment I made it about 5 miles from Greenville, almost to Belding, before bailing and using roads to cut over to Ionia and skipping the Grand River segment.

FM Flat River between Greenville and Belding is not recommended or fun on any bike I can think of, due to occasional pockets of deep loose basalt that cause tires to dig in and fishtail/skid suddenly. Anti-truck and ATV barriers are missing and surface has loose areas from vehicle traffic. As of 7/3/18 the cover photo blocking tree is still across the trail too, though enough branches are trimmed off to climb through with a bike.

Disappointing as I wanted to do the whole loop, but the potential for this to be epic in the future is high.

mostly rock and grass between Belding and Greenville. Not rideable at all in current state.

mostly rock and grass between Belding and Greenville. Not rideable at all in current state.

Started in Lowell

I drove to Lowell to take this trail north from there. It is not paved. It is rocks about the size of a small fist at least where it starts in Lowell. I was on my mountain bike, but only ended up going a short ways along it as the size of the rocks made it very bumpy and for me unpleasant. I ended up taking the shorter paved trail that started at cedar park and went to the high school and back.

tour around Greeenville

I had an appointment in Greenville, Mi. Took my bike along. I did the circle around Greenville. For bike riding not impressed. For a family with small kids or those that walk or skate it is perfect.

Status of Development

Work has begun on developing approximately 2.3 miles of trail from M44 on the south side of Belding up to Long Lake Road north of town. It includes the addition of new decking and railing for three existing trestles.

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