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Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park makes tracks from a bustling Grand Rapids community to the forests, farmlands, and friendly towns of Northern Lower Michigan. At nearly 93 miles, it is the state’s second longest rail-trail (the State Line Trail on the Upper Peninsula is longer, at 107 miles) and the state’s longest linear park. More than a dozen towns that tended to trains running between Grand Rapids and Cadillac now cater to hikers and bikers by offering food, lodging, or camping.
Asphalt covers about 52 miles of the trail, while two sections of about 10 miles (Reed City to Le Roy) and about 30 miles (Sand Lake to Big Rapids, with the exception of blacktop in Howard City) are packed ballast or gravel. Long-range plans call for paving the entire trail with asphalt as funds become available.
Horses are prohibited from the trail, but snowmobiles are allowed from Russell Road (north of downtown Rockford) to the trail’s north endpoint in Cadillac. The trail isn’t groomed for cross-country skiing, although it is an approved use.
Officially opened in 1995, the trail follows the rail bed of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad that laid the first tracks from Grand Rapids to Cedar Springs in 1867. By 1873, the railroad ran from Cincinnati to Little Traverse Bay. Its prime business of hauling lumber out of Michigan’s old-growth forests dwindled at the end of the century, replaced by a brisk tourism trade to northern fishing camps and resorts. Subsequent owners include the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1918 and the state in 1975. Operations ceased between Grand Rapids and Cadillac in 1984.
Beginning near the stadium for the West Michigan Whitecaps Minor League Baseball team just north of Grand Rapids, you’ll head north on 21 miles of paved trail through mostly rural terrain. The first of several historic railroad trestles crosses the Rogue River as you enter Rockford about 8.2 miles from the trail’s start. Rockford has many opportunities for dining; you can also enjoy a picnic at the scenic overlook of the Rogue River Dam. After passing through Cedar Springs, the pavement ends as you approach Sand Lake, about 12 miles past Rockford.
It’s another 7 miles to Howard City; a short stretch of asphalt heads through town, where you’ll find groceries and cafés. Morley, in 7 miles, has an ice-cream shop, and Stanwood, in 6 miles, has a convenience store and café. You’ll enter the Muskegon River Valley and return to paved trail before you arrive in Big Rapids in 9 miles. You can connect to the Big Rapids Riverwalk to head into town to grab a bite or take a rest stop. Leaving town, a 319-foot bridge provides a scenic Muskegon River crossing.
Six miles north is Paris, where the trail runs through Paris Park, featuring camp-in cabins, a canoe launch, and a fishing concession along the banks of the Muskegon River. Continuing 6.4 miles to Reed City, trail users can catch a view of the Yoplait Yogurt factory and cross the junction with the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail (Trail 21, page 81) before taking a covered bridge over the Hersey River.
The trail is ballast and gravel for the next 12 miles to just south of Le Roy, and in another 5 miles you’ll arrive in Tustin, which has railroad memorabilia at the Pine River Museum. Heading north another 11.2 miles takes you to the trail’s end in Cadillac on Lake Cadillac, where you can enjoy swimming beaches and an outdoor amphitheater for concerts
Parking and access to the trail are provided at each community along the trail. Camping is available in Belmont, Cedar Springs, Sand Lake, Morley, Paris, Reed City, and Cadillac, and Hersey and Evart (both on the Pere Marquette State Trail).
To reach the trailhead in Comstock Park from I-96, take Exit 31B, and drive 1.5 miles north on US 131. Take Exit 91 to West River Dr., and turn right. Go 0.8 mile, turn left onto Lamoreaux Dr. NE, and look for the parking lot immediately on the right. The trail endpoint is just over a half mile south, in Walker, at N. Park St. NE.
To reach the trailhead in Cadillac from US 131, take Exit 177 onto northbound Bus. US 131/
S. 43 Mile Road toward Cadillac. Go 1.9 miles, turn left onto South St., and then turn right onto S. Lake St. Go 0.2 mile, and look for parking on the left, just across W. Chapin St. Take the pathway in the back of the parking lot 0.2 mile south to reach the trail endpoint at South St. and S. Lake St.
Lovely trail. My wife and I bike it at least twice a week when we are home.
It would be very nice if someone could sand down/fix the awful 2" bump on the small wood bridge at mile 17.8 going north between Cedar Springs and Sand Lake.
Biked this trail from Howard City south to Cedar Springs today. Workers were finishing up with new bridges on both sides of Howard City. I wonder if it's in the plans to asphalt this section??
My husband and I rode a portion of the White Pine trail from Grand Rapids to 3 miles past Rockford. It was a great ride. Love that it is paved and that you can stop along the way in various places to see things, have lunch and just enjoy the time outside. Would recommend it to those who like paved trails. We hope to go the entire length eventually.
Parked S of the Pine River Museum in Tustin (worth a look if you're interested in area history) and rode to Cadillac and back. Path is great and scenery makes for a really enjoyable ride.
Rode from Belmont to Morley today, a round trip of about 60 miles. The first 3.9 miles to Rockford are excellent. Fast both ways, and great scenery. Please not as of July 2016 that a section of this trail may be closed for repairs. I rode on a Saturday and was able to get through, but may be closed on weekdays, im not 100% sure. Rockford is probably the nicest town I have visited, with eateries and ice cream right off the trail. Also was unable to locate the public restrooms in Rockford, but I know they are somewhere. After Rockford, the next 7.4 miles to Cedar Springs aren't as great. Right out of Rockford, it is very windy and lots of bumps that can really wreck havoc on road bikes with skinny tires (luckily I ride a Trek hybrid). A few factories along this stretch have a putrid smell, but it passes after 30 seconds of riding past. Cedar Springs has a nice staging area with main street just a street down. The 5.4 mile ride to Sand Lake is nice, flat and well paved. Sand Lake is a quaint little town. Gas station and cafe just off the trail. North of Sand Lake the asphalt ends. the 7 miles to Howard City are manageable. Most of it is two track gravel. A half mile paved section through Howard City is a welcome relief. North of Howard City is difficult at times. Sandy spots on this section will have your tires flailing and you threatening to ride the adjacent road. My advice on these sandy parts would be to ride on the far right of the trail. The sandy parts use an excess amount of energy for long rides. Also yes, horses sometimes can be found on this stretch illegally, saw evidence with tracks and poop. Morley is a welcome sight after a long ride from Howard City. A nice pavilion is available, and I even was able to shoot a couple baskets on a hoop near the trail as a break from riding (a ball was left out, not sure if this is all the time or if I just was lucky.) Everyone on the trail was nice, and understood biking courtesy. Great trail for all riders.
I rode the entire trail July 26, 2016 from Cadillac to Belmont, getting off for the night, and continuing the next day to Comstock Park to connect with the Musketawa Trail. The unpaved sections were definitely slower going and I could see that the section from Big Rapids to Howard City could be tough slugging during a rainy time, as mentioned by the May 2016 reviewer. However, I found only minor challenges, such as loose gravel before and after road crossings, but never bad enough to force me off my bike. I would recommend something with a little bigger than the standard 700x23mm road bike tires for the unpaved portions. I have 700 x 40mm tires, a 12x32 cassette with triple chain rings and was carrying full panniers loaded with tent, sleeping bag, food, clothes, etc. It was a relatively easy ride for this 72 year old.
Parked at the depot in Reed City and went north on a sunny warm morning today. The trail was firm and in good condition for almost the whole trip. Lots of wildlife along the way..deer, rabbits, and squirrels were everywheres. Turning around in Leroy where the asphalt starts and headed back, it seemed to be almost downhill from there. The only negative thing was it seemed that the trail had been used more by motor vehicles than bikes recently. I'm guessing it was about 20 miles for the roundtrip..about 2 hours total. The only other biker or walker that I saw on the entire trip was in downtown Reed City...unreal!!
I've ridden this from the end in Grand Rapids to north of Big Rapids more than my share of times. It's a great trail that is smooth and shaded for most of the ride. It gets a little busy in the Rockford area, but after that its smooth sailing.
We started in Cadillac and rode to Grand Rapids over a two day period. The paved sections of the trail were great, the unimproved sections between Lee Roy and Reed City and between Howard City and Peirson were passable with a 26 x 2 wheel on a hybrid bike. The unimproved section between Big Rapids and Howard City can best be described as mud, muck, moss and sand. We tried to slug our way down this section of trail but finally gave up and traveled the road that is parallel to the trail, and kept looking at the conditions so get back on. This section could best be described as pitiful. All and All we made the entire journey and enjoyed our selves stopping in the little towns and exploring, eating and just having a blast. The wild life was plentiful, we saw turkey, deer, a beaver, hundreds of birds and even a bald eagle. The terrain was amazing to watch change from Up North to down in Mid-Michigan. We are great-full for the trail and will do it again if some how the the trail can be finished.
Great trail with gorgeous scenery. Cadillac is a great little town to end. Peaceful lake and nice downtown area to relax in.
I really like this trail, especially because of the numerous sites to start/stop.
The problem is that around Rockford and north, the surface is so rough with tree roots that have pushed up, that it can almost throw a biker off the path...or damage the bike.
What about the stretch from Sand Lake north to Big Rapids? Any plans to pave this? Would be great if so.
Though this trail is 90+ miles in length, we were only about to hit 20 miles of it, making our trip a total of 40 miles. (Out 20, back 20)
We parked in Grand Rapids at Riverside Park, which we found by mistake. But it was a good thing.
Go through Riverside Park and then on the bike lanes of the main road (a few blocks) and pick up the White Pine Trail.
The trail is wide and paved from Riverside Park to Sand Lake.
Near Grand Rapids you will see more business' but then the more North you go, it's wooded and quiet.
Seems uphill from Grand Rapids, but the return trip was very fast and downhill.
In Rockford there are eateries and shops.
In Cedar Springs there are eateries and shops as well. We were thirsty and stopped at a bakery in Cedar Springs for soft drinks and she gave us cups of water too. And let us use the rest rooms.
Just an all around nice trail through some great areas.
On our return trip, we took a turn off the trail and actually came right up to the Fifth Third Stadium and there was a game that evening. We came back via Comstock Park, which we tried to find in the first place. Passed the parking area in Comstock Park.
Would like to ride on more of this trail in the future.
Visit the White Pine website for maps and additional information.
The paved sections were awesome.The unpaved section was firm and smooth. Paris park (north side of Paris) was a real jewel. Best bathrooms I have ever seen. It has an abandoned fish hatchery that is perfectly maintained. Bring quarters for trout food. Those fish are hungry. The ponds extend to the river and have shaded tables near an Eiffel tower. The towns of Le Roy and Tustin have museums on the trail. Cadillac and Big Rapids have brewpubs. Reed City has a brewery opening soon. Reed city has good bathrooms near the intersection of two trails. Pay attention to the signs to avoid getting on a different trail.
Myself and 3 friends rode this trail end of July 2015. We rode South from Gordon Park, 20 miles North of Comstock Park for a round trip of 40 miles. I have previously rode the entire length of this trail and have always enjoyed the ever changing scenery. After riding to the Southern end I may need to have my wheels reshaped. The asphalt is in terrible shape especially near Rockford and Comstock Park. There are so many large heaving areas that it is difficult to ride. There are also many holes in the asphalt marked with fading pink paint. There was one particular hole in the asphalt, that is right after careening down a fairly good sized hill, that could cause a disaster for you if you don't see it to avoid it in time. I'm glad to have rode this section but I won't be back until I hear that it has been resurfaced. Also, it is quite difficult to find a restroom in Rockford as it is fairly hidden off the trail. If you don't ask a local you won't find it.
Ran the trail from South to North at the beginning of our family vacation this July.
I would strongly recommend running this route as there are some great views along the way. About half of the communities on the map have the trail going through the middle of town and the other half are adjacent where you might have to run into town for resupply or a short break.
Some quick notes to consider:
1) Come up with a good water resupply plan. There are some water resources on the trail but not an abundance of it. I have a memory of running though Big Rapids in the middle of the night trying to scavenge water. I felt like John Belushi in animal house when they were sneaking into the deans office.
2) Bug management. I spent the majority of this run with several flies in my hair. Gross, right? There is swampy water on either side of the trail along major portions of the trail. My bug repellent wipes were non functional. Yelling and swatting like a madman was much more effective.
3) Bring a second pair of shoes. Humidity was up and at night a nice fog settled in covering everything with a nice layer of moisture. eventually my shoes were saturated and slowed down. Changed shoes and took off!
If I was ever turned around at a junction or from coming off of a break, I just had to find the North Star to make sure that I was headed in the right direction.
Have a good run!
We parked in Belmont where there is plenty of parking with easy access to the trail. With 2 children (age 6 and 8) we wanted to test their legs with a short ride to Rockford (4 mi.). The trail was easy and scenic. We were there on a great sunny Sunday afternoon and there were many other riders and walkers out. The rules of the trail kept the many riders and walkers flow smoothly. The trail is high above the Rouge river and provides great scenery. Rockford is a great destination for a fun afternoon with great restaurants, brewery and shops.
The trail provided us exactly what we were looking for on our family ride.
Took my questionable and aging mountain bike from my house in NE Grand Rapids to the start of the trail near 5/3 Ballpark in Comstock Park. Then proceeded to Sand Lake and back on Sunday April 19, 2015, a touch over 50 mi round trip. Sun present throughout, and I believe the temperature reached the low 70s I'm not a hardcore rider and really just ride for fun, so I rode at a moderate pace (perhaps somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-13 mph).
Most significant cracks and impurities in the pavement have been indicated by spray paint. I honestly don't think there were that many given the length of this trail. It is slightly inclined the majority of the distance I travelled. It's not too noticeable until the turn around.
The ride from Comstock Park to Rockford is outstanding. Skirting a high embankment while overlooking the Rouge River near Belmont is a highlight. This section traverses swampland and significant forest portions. Many families, walkers, and runners abound near Rockford. As many have stated, Rockford has many amenities worth checking out (including a brewery ON the trail!). I highly suggest stopping somewhere here just for the quaintness of the town if you have never visited.
Travelling north from here is admittedly a touch more boring. The forest gradually transitions into farmland especially north of Rockford. The trail was less populated here also. Cedar Springs offers all the big box fast food joints and gas stations perhaps a half mile west of the trail. The town may have some local places but I did not venture here. The forest gradually transitions into farmland especially north of Cedar Springs.
I found myself almost completely alone from Cedar Springs to Sand Lake. I believe I passed only two people that ventured out this way. The trail continuous through more tree and farmland areas. Only an ice cream stand west of the trail and a Wesco gas station were open at 3PM on a Sunday here. I was going to grab something to eat here but everything other than the aforementioned two locations were closed or out of business.
Overall a great trail! I'm incredibly impressed with the variety of scenery. It is a very easy trail and I have no complaints.
I thought the trail from Comstock park north was great especially re-routing some of under US-131 along West River dive. The railbed went though the service road now used by fifth-third ballpark. As well as the new large arch bridge over West River road was great and all paved to Belmont. But after 2 hours of walking I find the bathroom at the Belmont recreational trail park was closed and locked. If people are using the trail it should always remain open. I was lucky to find a church that was open that day for a mass. To the maintenance people who do the restrooms along the trail. KEEP THEM OPEN!!! At least till 10 p.m. when most people go home. Dan.
I rode from Grand Rapids to Sand Lake today. This use to be one of my favorite rides but it has gone downhill fast in the last couple of years. It is now a very rough, tough, dirty and even stinky ride up to Russel Road where the pavement is better but I hit a rut so hard today up near Cedar Springs that I even blew a tire and damaged my rim and bike. It's disheartening that our trails are not maintained or kept very clean. It takes a little more than just cutting the grass a couple of times and sweeping the trail once in the spring. This trail use to be a 9 on a 10 scale and now its about a 3 in my book. I don't expect to ever ride it again until it is resurfaced or some major repairs are done because it is getting bad. It's a shame that so many Michigan trails are neglected once they are built.
I rode from Grand Rapids to Sand Lake today. This use to be one of my favorite rides but it has gone downhill fast in the last couple of years. It is now a very rough, tough, dirty and even stinky ride up to Russel Road where the pavement is better but I hit a rut so hard today up near Cedar Springs that I even blew a tire and damaged my rim and bike. It's disheartening that our trails are not maintained or kept very clean. It takes a little more than just cutting the grass a couple of times and sweeping the trail once in the spring. This trail use to be a 9 on a 10 scale and now its about a 3 in my book. I don't expect to ever ride it again until it resurfaced or some major repairs done because it is really getting bad. It's a shame that so many Michigan trails are neglected once they are built.
This trail is paved and easy to ride on. I love to ride my bike there. Tunnels of trees, creek water flowing sounds. Small animals like rabbits, turtles sunning themselves on rocks. Saw deer getting a drink of water. Lots of alternating sun and shady trees. Peaceful. I rode for two hours. Wish I could do that everyday. It's free! We are so lucky to have such a great trail in our community!
Rode the paved sections from Big Rapids to Reed City and LeRoy to Cadillac this past weekend. Some shade, some sun. Clean. Quiet. Some looonngg grades, but very doable. Nice ice cream shop in Tustin, just off trail.
Facilities available in Paris, Reed City, LeRoy, Tustin and of course in Cadillac.
I rode 18 miles on a trail had only one problem there was a group of 20 deer hade to take a mile detour down a muddy dirt rode
Had hoped to start in Comstock and ride north. Due to tire issues, we drove to Rockford to visit the bike store.
Once we got settled, we went North until the paved path ended and the rough ride began.
That was not fun, but we traveled it for about six miles then gave up and returned to town.
Rockford is great little town with friendly people, helpful residents, good restaurants and some unique shopping.
What Rockford does not have is a hotel or B&B.
I would hope to return to Grand Rapids and ride this trail in completion!
Lucky are the folks who live close by.
My one regret is that I only saw a small portion of this beautiful woodland lover's dream due to the heat. It was 100 F with some quite hilly areas, which otherwise would have posed no difficulty for me; however, I decided I had better slow the pace and "act my age". I believe I clocked about 32 miles one day and 25m the following, each being equally hot and sunny. Fortunately, there are ample shade and resting points along the trail, and I bring 1-2 qts of ice water along. I rode from the Pere Marquette section north to Cadillac. What a beautiful, casual ride around Lake Cadillac, and I made friends with some gray squirrels who were all too eager to help me part with some of my energy peanuts. After the welcome rest on a bench with the gentle breeze cooling my face, it seemed such torture to go back. I spied a pair of rosy evening grosbeaks in a shrub, who proudly posed without fear. It was growing late, and I continued on my way against the threat of sunset approaching. I saw many kingfishers in the trees all along the pathway, which lives up to its name, as it is paved with white pines, as well as birch and many wildflowers, which in turn were a huge draw for butterflies, painting the landscape a splendid hue of green, canopied by a brilliant blue sky, and spattered with yellow, white, and orange blooms. It was so quiet going through the forest that I felt truly at peace, alone with God and creation. It is not easy to find that kind of solitude anywhere anymore, and I truly value these types of trails the most for that reason. The trail is well maintained, but has only port a pots for most of the stops, but this is far superior than nothing at all. I keep a cooler in my truck for water and ice/food refills, as this may be stretched in some areas of this wonderful trail. I hope I can return someday. It will be great if they continue work along the unimproved surfaces to extend this trail. I find the scenery and solitude much nicer than the Pere Marquette trail, which is well maintained, but has little variety and is not very scenic, plus too much road noise.
Does anyone know if there are places to camp along the trail at any point?
From south to north, paved portions are 20.9 miles Comstock Park to Sand Lake, a short stretch in Howard City, 12.5 miles Big Rapids to Reed City, and 16.3 miles Leroy to Cadillac. Click on the link to Friends of White Pine website where they describe an alternate paved road route between Reed City and Leroy.
Can someone tell me what parts of the White Pine trail are paved. I have a group of folks that would like to ride but some have street bikes.
belmont to rockford is a great trip even when its hot as you are in the shade most of the time, can't wait until fall for the colors
We rode part of this for the first time today. Drove up from Holland and parked in the MDOT park and ride across the street from 5/3 ball park in Comstock. We made a 15-mile loop to Rockford and back. I believe there is a slight uphill grade most of the way to Rockford, which made a really nice downhill on the return trip. There were just a couple of bad spots in the paved trail, but for the most part very wide, smooth...beautiful. It was in the 90s today, much hotter than we'd planned, but still a beautiful ride. Looking forward to going back when it won't be so hot.
We just returned from riding the White Pine Trail from Cedar Springs to Reed City. The unpaved section between Sand Lake and Big Rapids is in poor condition. It is littered with horse manure and the trail surface is badly torn up by horses. We actual met an Amish horse and wagon on the trail. It is obvious they are using the trail as they personal road and destroying it in the process.
A small group of us on trikes rode the trail on April 28 from Comstock to Rockford
Had a great time will ride it again
First, I've got to say that I have logged over 800 miles on the southern half of the White Pine Trail. It is a very scenic and rider-friendly trail, with gentle slopes, a nice downhill run between Russell Road and Rockford, many places to stop and view the wildlife. It is a well-travelled route, with everything from families walking with their toddlers to serious bicycle enthusiasts speeding along in their racing bikes.
I wanted to comment on the directions to the southern trailhead. The reference to Belmont is to a trail spot, but certainly not a trailhead in the strict sense of the word. To get there, take exit 95 from US131.Turn left (east) on Post Road from the exit ramp, following it to Belmont Road. Take Belmont Road about a quarter of a mile to Rouge River Park. The trail passes right by the Park.
There is a branch of the trail at 5th3rd Ballpark. The west branch goes through Comstock Park and all of its restaurants and shopping. There is plenty of parking all along the trail in town. To get there, take exit 91 from US-131 and turn right. That will take you right into town. The trail is all along the road on the right. According to one article I read (West Michigan Trails Magazine) Comstock Park is the official starting point for the White Pine Trail.
The other branch goes to the Butterworth Trail, heading south into Grand Rapids.
Overall, I think Michigan is doing an excellant job of providing trails for everyone to enjoy no matter where you live in the state. I just hope the support continues, not just from the legislature, but the people who use it!
The directions to the southern part of the trail do not seem to be accurate. Perhaps they are merely out-of-date. I could not find the trail head in Belmont and ended up parking at an abandoned business and getting on the trail, which was just a few yards away. The first time I did this, I headed north past Rockford. The second time I wanted to see where the trail really started so headed south and went past 53rd Ball Park. I had done the first half of my regular 10 mile ride, so turned around and went back to my car. But the trail seemed to go on much further past my stopping point, which was about a mile past the ball park.
I ride a Sun trike and found the trail worked well for that rig. It's not the fastest trike but people had no problem passing me. There is an ice cream shop right by the trail on the Comstock Park spur and you can ride right up to the window and order a cone.
Theirs a place west of lake cadillac on the old M-55 road west and just north of the Campground . Its a bit out of the way but well worth it. The restaurant is called the Da doghouse best coneydogs out of town. And their is a small side pathway on M-115 just before campground. The White pine trails are great.
I only ride the paved section of this trail (Comstock Park to Sand Lake), but it's beautiful. It also links to a trail that extends the path further south to Riverside Park (Ann St.) so the entire paved section is 23 miles one way. Other than short sections that run alongside roads, the trail goes through woods and along the river. It's quiet, picturesque, and in good shape. It's also wide, so you don't feel like you're riding through a tunnel like you do on some trails. I ride a Terratrike and prefer to ride the trails rather than roads, since I'm riding low. I highly recommend visiting this trail.
The Trail from Cadillac to reed city has a ongoing paving operation right know to improve it and eventually all of it will be paved.
July 24 2010
From Reed City to Little Rapid,trail is blacktop. south toward Howard City surface is rough with loose stones and tall grass. From Sand Lake to Comstock paved trail,Going thru Rockford a beautiful litte town.
North from Reed City to Cadillac trail is lousy.
Pere Marquette Trail is a joke,grass so tall you can't see marker
The written directions to the Comstock Park trail head were wrong. We followed the written directions from your description area of the trail and ended up at the Belmont trail head rather than Comstock Park. If you look carefully at the written directions, you will see that they are the same as the directions to Belmont. However, when viewing the map you can find the correct directions. Our internet was down at the time, thus we were unable to look at the map when we left.
I rode south 11 miles from Paris. Paved section to Big Rapids is wonderful. Even the unpaved section south of Big Rapids is well packed and smooth. Some nice views of the river. I saw deer on my evening ride.
I also rode from Reed City to Cadillac (and back). This trail is two track. It is a little rough but the tracks are well worn and the plants don't grow very tall. Leroy and Tustin have port-a-johns along the trail. I had a great BLT at the Blue Heron in Cadillac and had a great breakfast at Mr. Pibs just north of Leroy. Nice views of wetlands, north woods and meadows.
We rode from Cadillac to Sand Lake in the summer of 2008. Parts of the trail were lovely. Other parts were clearly seldom used, with grass growing tall between the tracks. North of Morley, the trail had peculiar wheel tracks and horse hoof marks. According to locals, these were made by Amish buggies using the trail illegally. Since we didn't encounter one, we couldn't verify it, but that's certainly what the tracks looked like.
I distance skate on quad speed skates. Roller skates require a smooth paved surface, any other surface is impossible.
I work in Big Rapids, live in Howard City, and play in Grand Rapids. The variation of surface conditions of the trail along its length through these cities is pretty remarkable. The only long paved portions of the trail North of Grand Rapids are the Comstock Park- Sand Lake section and the section that goes Big Rapids to Reed City.
Snowmobiles are allowed N. of Russell Road which is just north of Rockford. Everything south of Russell Road makes for a BEAUTIFUL skate (except when weather/tree debris is rough). Smooth, not too hilly, challenging, etc.
The trail in Big Rapids has been completely destroyed by snowmobiles; the surface entirely chewed and rough. I can skate on it, but it's very unpleasant and I can never really work up any speed. The amount of vibration that comes up through my skates makes my feet numb. I often drive the 20 miles down to Rockford just to get a good cardio skate in, and I hate wasting gas just to get some exercise.
I think the managers of the White Pine Trail should seriously reconsider their snowmobile policy.
We lucked out with a beautiful November day to ride the trail between Big Rapids and Reed City. This stretch is the northern, paved section of the trail. While we routinely ride unpaved, cinder/crushed limestone trails with our tandem, the unpaved sections of the White Pine (about ½ mile south of Big Rapids and just north of Reed City at US10) were just too rough for us.
We started at the trailhead in Big Rapids that had ample parking and an unheated bathroom. There is a BP gas station with Subway shop a little to the west for sandwiches/drinks. The trail is pretty much a nice mix of farm fields, woods and some adjacent river scenery. Paris might be busy during the summer as you pass close to the camp ground / fishery. The Reed City trailhead has a nice, new structure with heated bathrooms. R.C. also has a couple of restaurants and shops for food/snacks.
The Pere Marquette Trail intersects at Reed City, too. It’s only paved about ¼ mile to the west of Reed City and turns into a pretty rough, unpaved section from there. We road east on a nice paved section of the P-M for about 3 miles, but turned around due to time not knowing how far east the paved section extends.
Overall a very nice stretch of rail-trail.
We just completed our tour of this trail, along with a detour on the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail.
We stayed mainly on the paved portions, though we did try heading north out of Reed City.
But with road bikes the trail was just too rough, and so we turned around at Ashton.
We also made the trip eastward to Evart, which is also a very nice section of trail.
The next day we enjoyed the southern paved portion of this trail, between 57 and Comstock Park.
The trail through Rockford is gorgeous, but busy.
The wildflowers were in full bloom, the new Reed City depot is a beautiful resting place, and the lookouts over the river made for several scenic breaks.
My one wish-list item would be for water pumps on the trail; the 2nd day we made sure to pack extra water.
Hands down my favorite trail. Lots of shade, places to stop and get water, and good shelter from the wind. The trail is very, very well maintained. I'm not sure what they did when they paved it, but the ruts and weeds are few and far between. When they do pop up, they seem to be fixed a lot quicker than the other trails in the area.
I look forward to when they complete the pavement all the way to Cadalliac.
We walked on the trail today from downtown Rockford, headed north...just out to enjoy the beautiful Friday.....YIKES!!! Bikers...PLEASE use proper protocol when coming up behind walkers,etc...DING those bells,etc...some of the bikers were o.k...but seems our brains have become frozen over winter...remember to always signal when coming up behind someone...I'm not putting blame to the bikers, as we also bike, but today was for walking......lets remember safety on the trails as the summer unfolds...
Since this trail is close to home, I have spent many wonderfull hours riding from Riverside Park to the end of the paved trail just north of Sand lake.
Hopefully this trail will keep me young. Can't wait until it is totally paved to Caddilac.
"We thought the trail was beautiful and well maintained, but we were disappointed to find the trail closed for repairs about 5 miles north of Rockford. It would seem that such information should definately be posted on the web-site."
"Today I was on the trail for the first time. I rode from Riverside Park in GR to Russell Road near Cedar Springs. (The end of the paved section)
This is a perfect case of going ""up north."" The trail seems to be inclined as you go north. Nothing too difficult, though, and it makes for a great ride back to GR. Trail very smooth compared to others I have been on lately. Rockford is a great resting place... nice little village square. Great scenery along both rivers, especially the Rogue.
I can't wait until they pave the rest of the trail."
"The section of the trail from Belmont to Rockford was quite rough, but was repaird in May 2005. They did a great job and it is great for in-line skating again!"
"My wife and I rode the entire length of the White Pine State Park Trail this summer on our BikeE ATs. We did it in sections.
1)Riverside Park in Grand Rapids to Pierson
2)Pierson to Morley
3)Morley to Big Rapids
4)Big Rapids to Ashton
5)Ashton to Cadillac
The trail was entirely passable, although there were sections between Pierson and Morley were we had to lift our BikeEs over three downed trees, we had recently had a severe thunderstorm and they were blown down by that storm. Some sections between Russell Road (where the pavement ends north of Rockford) and Big Rapids had rough ballast and fairly large stone gravel that made the riding slow. But we were able to maintain between 6 and 9 mph the entire way. The section between Pierson and Morley also seems to be used by some of the local Amish as a buggy trail, dispite the fact that horses are not allowed on the trail. Someone had pulled out all of the state signs along the trail that stated that ATVs and horses were not allowed on the trail. Given the state's economic problems trail rules are not being effectively enforced.
The paved section between Big Rapids and Reed City does show some wear from the studded tracks of snowmobiles, but that doesn't bother bikers unless they are riding purely for speed. In-line skaters may find it a little rough for their tastes in some spots, but the pavement allowed us to ride easily with an average speed of 10 to 14 mph both ways.
The county park in Paris at the site of the old state fish hatchery is worth the stop to walk along the fish ponds and feed the big trout in the ponds. Besure to visit the ""Effle Tower"" in the park.
When you reach Reed City you will come on the # where the Pere Marquette Rail-trail cosses the White pine. After going through the covered bridge and crossing US 10 the trail returns to being unimproved ballast. The ride to Ashton is relatively easy and the trail has some interesting views. DON'T TRY TO SAVE TIME BY RIDING THE OLD HIGHWAY BACK TO REED CITY FROM ASHTON, like we did, AS THERE ARE THREE STEEP DECENTS AND ASSENTS.
From Ashton to Cadilac is also unimproved but as the ballast used was crushed stone it is smoother. There is a tunnel under a road south of Leroy and an area just south of Leroy were water seems to collect. It was still damp and we rode on the higher ground in the center of the trail. That was the poorest section of the trail and it was only 50 yards or so long.
After Leroy the trail is crushed stone and relatively smooth. There is a spectacular view from the trail north of Tustin after the trail passes under the US 131 freeway.
When you reach Cadillac the trail is paved and quickly takes you to Lake Cadillac.
This trail is unimproved much of its 92 miles but is can be ridden by a good road or communter bike. You do not need a mountain bike to enjoy this trail and as it is a rail bed I doubt that mountain bikers would find it much of a challange.
If you are a biker and are in Western Michigan looking for a good ride try this trail."
The trail near Reed City south allows snowmobiles or at least they don't enforce it. That's why the trail is in bad shape and it is also very dirty.
I recently rode out of Reed City south toward Paris. This trail was dirty and is being destroyed by snowmobilers. The surface is quite rough and bumpy for the most part. Reed City to Hersey was just as bad although I think the trail builders probobly had good intentions. On a 1 to 10 scale this trail is a 6 at best for the parts I have seen.
The Cadillac to Tustin portion of the trail is not bad. It is hard packed dirt with little stones. It is not at all difficult to ride.
"I rode the entire trail on June 19, 2004, with a cross-bike. I left Cadillac at 6:00 a.m. and arrived in Comstock Park just after 3:00 p.m.
Cadillac to Reed City is a mixture of gravel and ballast. It's packed down in some spots and loose in others. It's fairly rough, but this portion of the trail has great scenery. Reed City to Big Rapids is paved and parallels the Muskegon River for a couple miles before crossing it just north of Big Rapids.
South of Big Rapids the surface is back to gravel and quite rough. It smoothes out south of Stanwood and is fairly decent to Howard City. South of Howard City it's rough again and overgrown with grass for several miles. It then smoothes out again near Cedar Springs. South of Cedar Springs the trail is paved the rest of the way.
I recommend that wherever you start, head south. Over the 92 mile length, the trail elevation drops about 600-feet from Cadillac to Comstock Park. For scenery, the best is between Cadillac and Big Rapids. Food and water is not a problem, as the towns on the trail are only 5-10 miles apart. There's plenty of party stores and restaurants. Good luck, and don't forget a camera!"
"I rode the trail from Big Rapids to Reed City. The trail itself was very well maintained, and there wasn't that much traffic. I was a little disappointed though that there were not more rest areas/bathrooms along this stretch."
"We did the whole trail and at its worst it was still O.K. while at its best the trail was excellent. The paved parts are obviously great, while there's some loose stuff to deal with on some parts of the unpaved part of trail.
Bottom line: White Pine Trail State Park exhibits the finest part of what defines a trail. The Michigan DNR has removed its funding of the White Pine so maintenance will be dependent upon the townships and municipalities it passes through. Hey, everyone's budgets are hurting so its just the day and age we live in.
Be prepared for some over growth of weeds, grass, fauna and flora onto the trail. When in Cadillac stay at Mitchell State Park if you're camping. This is a great state park -- it's simply the best!
Rockford has shops within feet of the paved portion of the trail. Don't miss Belmont Grocery for stocking up -- it's right next to trail. There's a great little motel with a restaurant next door in Howard City. This is also right next to trail.
We found lots of places that had their one gallon containers of spring water in the refrigerators along with the other cold drinks. What a wonderful concept!
All in all this was a very enjoyable ride, but if you're going to do the entire trail you should ride a hybrid or mountain bike. If you must have your rail-trails paved then start in Grand Rapids and go to Rockford and then get yourself sagged to Big Rapids for the next paved section.
All you ride warriors just stay on the trail! Michiganders are really nice folks! YeeHaw!"
"Between Russell Rd and 12 Mile are some badly filled potholes marked with yellow paint. Not too bad for bikers, but rollerblading is dangerous in those areas. It'll be great when the trail is paved farther north!"
"My 12-year-old daughter and I biked this trail from Russel Road (7.4 miles north of Rockford) south to the end at Monroe Park (approximately 11 miles). It is a well maintained, asphalt trail and an easy ride (especially for a novice bike rider).
We highly recommend this rail-to-trail. "
"Big Rapids to Reed City: Paved and beautiful. Most scenic trail I have had the pleasure of cycling.
Paris park is a comfortable and clean little park. Piza place just south of the enterence is excellent. Stay in a cabin if you like for $30 (clean, good deal).
Photos and detailed reviews can be seen on our club web site:
Look under photos, 2002 and 2003, White Pine.
The section of trail from West River Road to four miles north of Rockford was very enjoyable.
"We watched the bridge go up over West River Drive, and today (April 14, 2002) my childern and I decided to take a ride over the bridge. We started in Comstock Park at 5/3 ball park. This first part of the trail was gravel and at first I thought that this was going to be a little rough for my daughter (who is 8) but she had no problem riding on it. There were a couple of soft spots, but they weren't a problem. Once we reached the bridge (that is where the asphalt starts) my childern had a very easy time. The ride was very easy with the smooth surface and no hills. We made it to Belmont (about 4 miles from Comstock) and the kids said let's keep going, so we did. The view was great, including the river. People we passed were friendly. The overall apperance of the trail was clean. We had no problems with our ride, there was a couple of rough spot on the asphalt but those were well marked with bright orange marking to warn people to watch that area.
We plan to start in Rockford and go north. If anyone has information on what the trail is like north of Rockford please let me know. Thanks, Cliff."
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