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The 71-mile North Eastern State Trail, along the former Detroit and Mackinac Railway, provides a mostly solitary and meditative experience as you travel through wetlands, farmland, forests, and a few small towns. Starting from the Cheboygan trailhead, which intersects the 62-mile North Central State Trail, people on bikes may find the riding fairly slow given the not-so-compacted crushed limestone surface. Mountain bikes are recommended.
Located along the trail are several places with picnic tables, sometimes shaded, where you can take a break and soak in the natural beauty of northeastern Michigan. Given the isolated nature of the corridor, trail users should carry plenty of water, and cyclists should be prepared to fix a flat tire. In many segments of the trail, access to amenities requires backtracking either on or off the trail.
You will enjoy inspiring vistas as you make your way to Aloha State Park (8 miles from Cheboygan), with several areas to stop and take in the many small lakes along the trail. You are periodically surrounded by woodlands reminiscent of Michigan’s logging era, and it is not unusual for a chicken, goat, or horse to cross your path.
Individuals who are traveling the entire route may wish to stop at the Millersburg trailhead (about halfway through the trail at mile 33); here, you’ll find a few restaurants near the pathway as well as a railroad depot museum highlighting the railroad heritage of the region. Another 19 miles takes you to Posen, the next village, where you’ll find a few family-owned restaurants and businesses off the trail.
The final stretch of the trail from Posen to Alpena is another 19 miles, and there is no easy access to water or restrooms in the few small towns you pass along the way. Upon reaching the eastern endpoint, you can head south a short distance on Woodward Avenue to Johnston Street, where you can pick up the 14-mile Alpena Bi-Path, which skirts the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary and extends in various directions through the town.
A large public parking lot for the trail is available at the Cheboygan trailhead. To reach the trailhead from I-75, take Exit 322 toward Cheboygan, and head east on County Road 64/Riggsville Road for 5.9 miles. Turn left to continue on Riggsville Road. In 1.4 miles, bear right to merge onto Woiderski Road; go 0.5 mile, and continue onto W. Lincoln Ave. After another 0.5 mile, turn left onto S. Western Ave., and go 0.2 mile. Turn right onto Taylor St., and make an immediate right into the trailhead parking lot.
To reach the southern trailhead in Alpena from the intersection of MI 65 N. and MI 32 in Lachine, head east on MI 32 and go 13.7 miles. Turn left onto N. Bagley St., and go 1.2 miles, crossing the Thunder Bay River. Turn right onto Long Rapids Road, go 1 mile, and, just past the intersection with US 23 N., continue straight onto Johnson St. for 0.6 mile. Turn left onto Woodward Ave. and, after 0.5 mile, look for the trailhead parking lot and restrooms, to your right.
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