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Many factors contribute to the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail’s popularity. It runs for 30 miles on smooth asphalt that is well maintained and, at 14 feet, wide enough to ride or walk side-by-side. At either end, Midland and Clare offer convenient services for weary travelers, as do small towns along the route. Forests, parks, bridges, and historical sites provide diversions and opportunities for reflection along the way.
The trail traces the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad’s segment between Midland and Clare that opened in 1870. The line served a railroad car service across Lake Michigan and timber companies that were clear-cutting the state’s old-growth forests. The Pere Marquette Railroad acquired the railway in 1899 and operated it until the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway took over in 1947. Traffic continued to dwindle, and the C&O stopped using the line in the 1980s. The trail opened in 1993.
Starting at the Midland Area Farmers Market (open in season on Wednesdays and Saturdays), you can take a quick side trip over the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers on a three-span bridge called The Tridge. The Chippewa Trail heads south and west for 4 miles. You’ll return to the market and head north on the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail.
Riverside parks and cultural attractions border the trail as you leave town. You’ll find covered picnic spots at Emerson Park, statues and blooming flowers at Dahlia Hill, and local history exhibits at Herbert D. Doan Midland County History Center or the Herbert Dow Museum (Dow Chemical got its start in Midland). Another attraction located just off the trail is Bradley House. This restored 1874 home offers visitors a glimpse into the everyday life of an early Midland family.
After passing through woods for about 8.4 miles, you’ll arrive in Sanford. There’s plenty to explore here, such as restaurants and shops or the riverside park. Just across the steel trestle you’ll find the Sanford Centennial Museum, complete with a relocated circa-1870 railroad depot and railroad cars. About a mile ahead is Veterans Memorial Park, which features 200-year-old red and white pines. Hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing trails at Pine Haven Recreation Area are 2.7 miles off the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail via Saginaw Road to Northwest River Road and then West Maynard Road.
The forest opens to farmland in a few miles, and Coleman comes into view about 11 miles past Sanford. Meals are available right next to the trail, or you can explore town for shops and more cafés. The old railroad depot has been renovated, and you can visit the library about two blocks away at Railway and First Streets, or the bike shop at Railway and Seventh Streets.
In another 4.7 miles you’ll arrive at Loomis. Like other towns along the route, Loomis also started with a sawmill during the timber boom and benefited from the railroad. A general store and a few homes are all that remain today.
The Pere Marquette Rail-Trail ends in Clare in another 5.4 miles. An on-road bike lane on Pine, Fifth, and Main Streets ushers you through town to the Pere Marquette State Trail. The 53-mile crushed-stone pathway goes all the way to Baldwin.
To reach the trailhead at the Midland Area Farmers Market from I-75, take Exit 162B toward Midland on US 10 W. Continue west on US 10 for 11.2 miles, and exit left onto Bus. US 10/MI 20. Go 2.6 miles, and take the second right off the roundabout onto Patrick Road, heading west. Go 1.6 miles—Patrick Road becomes E. Indian St.—and turn left onto Ashman St. Go 0.4 mile into the parking for the farmers market. The trail leaves from the circle behind the farmers market.
To reach the trailhead in Clare from US 127 heading north, take Exit 156 left to E. Bus. US 127 toward Clare. Go 0.9 mile, and bear right around the traffic circle: the road joins N. Mission Road and then becomes N. McEwan St. In 0.7 mile, turn right onto E. Fourth St. Just before the end of the block, find a multiuse trail on your right and on-street or municipal parking on your left, behind the public library at E. Fourth St. and Pine St. The trail begins as a multiuse trail just across E. Third St.
Road the entire trail and back on Sunday. It was awesome and well worth the 2 hour drive to get there. We will be back!
As I am still a beginning cyclist with this being only my 3rd trail, I have come to appreciate the signage and directions each trail posts to help you stay on the right path. We parked at the Chippewa Nature Center & rode into Midland where the Tridge begins. As we came up to town, even though there was a slight detour due to construction on M20, it was well labeled. We rode to Sanford and found some special treats along the way. Looking like a scene from "Bridges of Madison County", I loved the different bridges along the way. At the Veteran's Memorial if you look closely, draped around the boot statue are the dog tags with a solider's picture on it which was such a nice tribute. We stopped at The Cottage Creamery which is accessible from the trail or Saginaw Rd. and tried the Apple Crisp ice cream. We got another treat as we sat on the back deck when the cute little chipmunks playfully ran around waiting for me to drop my ice cream. It is a pretty straight trail, but there is a lot to appreciate on this trail, and it's very bike friendly. I would like to finish the trail and head to Clare from Sanford. Walking or riding, people passing by are very friendly, and if you take a few breaks, there's definitely some awesome photo opportunities. Great Job Pere Marquette!! We'll be back for sure.
Just FYI - easy to park at Emerson Park and enter the trail there. Trail was really nice and we will definitely be back.
Just a heads up—My wife and I parked near the Tridge and unloaded our bikes, changed into riding cloths then rode to the trail. Oops!! There is a small sign saying the trail entry is closed during bridge repairs across the river. Not much information as to where to go to get on. We reloaded our bikes in the van and, because we have the Trail Link app, we found and parked at Emerson Park and enjoyed a 10 mile out and back ride. Nice trail for seniors like us. We are heading back to do the rest of the trail next week
This trail system is a gem and has been thoroughly reviewed.
As a resident of Sanford, I just wanted to add that the trail is plowed all winter for the 9 mile stretch from Sanford to the Tridge. Accessible year around!
Had a lovely overnight trip on this trail-something we had wanted to do since getting new bikes. Started at Midland trailhead-parked the car behind the courthouse. Pleasant ride to Clare-lots of side attractions to explore, several small towns to grab a bite to eat and no lack of bathroom facilities ! Rode to Clare to spend the night . Main Street is only one block from trail’s end. Doherty Hotel has a special hike/bike package that offered free breakfast, munchies/drinks for the trail and dining credits.I did not want to leave my bike outside and management was kind to lock it in storage area in hotel. Lots of cute shops, bars to explore as well as the famous “ Cops and Doughnuts “ bakery!
The 60 mile round trip was just the right length for a first time weekend trip. Trail was flat, well maintained . We loved it!
As part of my Seattle to Savannah cross-country ride I used these rails-to-trail paths to get from Baldwin to Midland. The first 17 miles from Baldwin to Reed City is crushed limestone. I rode about 100 yards of the trail in Baldwin and decided that this crushed limestone was too loose to ride. I jumped on Route 10 and found a reasonable shoulder to ride. I checked the trail about 10 miles from Baldwin, the stone was more packed and could support a ride, but Route 10 was still considered the best ride option.
Just to the east of Reed City on Route 10 signage appeared for the Pere Marquette State Trail. I jumped on the trail here and rode to the old Reed City Depot Station. The trail was a bit rough with grass growing in open seams. The same was true for about 8 miles east of Reed City. The trail was still a pretty good ride. The rest of the trail to Midland was mostly smooth with only small sections with rough seams.
Since the trail runs close to Route 10, there were options to dart into small towns for water and food.
Just east of Clare the State Trail ends. I was required to ride about 4 miles on the highway and through Clare to rejoin the trail system. I used Google Maps for Bikes to find my way.
Thank you Michigan for such a nice ride.
I rode this trail for the first time Aug 31st, 2017 traveling from Midland to Coleman and back. Smooth asphalt trail well maintained with very nice benches, tables, and rest rooms all along the trail! Quiet, great scenic ride that is easy to keep your speed up. I was not up for a 60 mile trip to traverse all the way to Clare, so my next visit will be to Clare for an out-and-back taking in the rest this trail has to offer!
I rode from Clare to Sears and back on a beautiful summer day: July 29, 2017. I saw less than 20 people or groups along the way there and back. There was only one water crossing. Mostly the path traveled through woodlands. I often wished for a picnic table or water fountain, but there were none. Still, I enjoyed the utter solitude and would travel this path again.
Starting in the the down town City of Coleman Michigan. You will see a bright Yellow 7ft Sun sitting next to the trail Just head southeast along the rail trail for 6 miles to see the rest of the 9 planet's of our solar system. Great Educational tool for the whole Family.
What a great trail system you have built. Being from the Kalamazoo area and loving to ride in different areas of our beautiful state We were very pleased with this trail. Access is very easy to find, condition of the trail is well maintained with brush cut back and surface paved. We rode from Reed City to Midland and back the next day. WHAT A PLEASURABLE EXPERIENCE.. We'll be back. Fred
It is possible to ride the 70 miles east from Reed City to Midland, Michigan on a paved rail-trail – first on the Pere Marquette state trail, then (Clare to Midland) on the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail. The day I did it was just warm enough (50s F) to be very comfortable, as well as sunny and calm. Rail-trails do not have significant hills, so this is a low-key ride. For the first 40 miles – until the town of Clare – I saw 4 other trail users. Neat and tidy farms, small towns, wetlands populated by redwing blackbirds, geese, and turtles drift by with ease; a truly idyllic ride, and typical of northern Michigan.
Although the various online descriptions warn you that the Pere Marquette State trail ends on the outskirts of Clare, they then say that the 1.5 miles through Clare are on well-marked roads that take you to the Pere Marquette Trail linking Clare with the city of Midland. It is true that the roads are nice enough, and the drivers are pretty considerate, but the signs from trailhead to trailhead through the town are not obvious, and I was thankful that my 'phone seemed to know the way. It’s not complicated, but it is not well-marked!
Clare itself is a pretty little town with interesting-looking small shops and quiet streets. If the trail from Reed City to Clare is well-made and well-maintained, the trail from Clare to Midland is like a perfectly kept freeway, wide and smooth, and only when I neared Midland did the trail traffic increase (a dozen or so other users!). By the time I reached the Midland City limits I was desperate for a serious espresso, and I stopped at the Cottage Creamery – right on the trail. My plan was a 4-shot latte, but the black raspberry milkshake (a Michigan specialty?) snagged me. I’m not sure if it was the endorphins or the quality of the ingredients, but that was the best milkshake I can remember having – ever – and when I discovered the chocolate chip mother-lode at the bottom of the cup I was pretty sure that I had made it to heaven.
Just want to clarify that a lot of the reviews for this trail are actually for the Pere Marquette State Trail. They are separated by a 1.5 mile gap in Clare. From Clare east it is the Rail-Trail and from Clare West it is the State Trail, and combined it is a total of 83 miles.
I rode Pere Marquette trail (the Rail Trail east of Clare and the State Trail west of Clare) for an overnighter on October 4th and 5th. As a Michigander I’m a bit embarrassed to say it’s my first rail trail experience, and it was a good one. I used a lightly loaded heavy duty touring bike packed suitably for a single overnight.
My goal was to complete my first Century ride (solo and unsupported at that) by riding from the Tridge in Midland to Reed City’s intersection with the White Pine trail, and then back to Clare to spend the night. This ended up being just over 110 miles on day one, and was a great success. Day two, of course, was a relatively easy 30 mile ride back to my car in Midland.
Day one started with figuring out where to park. The trailhead itself begins right at the Tridge with parking available in the Farmers’ Market. Unfortunately the spots are all signed “No Trespassing after 11:00 pm,” meaning I was out of luck counting on it for an overnight trip. Just to the west, though, is a fairly large parking lot that had several cars already at 7:00 in the morning with no menacing signs. This might be the courthouse parking.
If you’re driving in and want to change out of civvies into cycling clothing, the round Farmers’ Market building had men’s and women’s rooms that were convenient and not locked at 7:00 on a Sunday morning.
Starting at about 7:35, the first two cold, rain-soaked hours really had me questioning the wisdom of going for a 110 mile ride (my previous longest single ride as only 51 miles), but eventually the rain stopped and although the sun didn’t come out, cycling clothes tend to dry pretty quickly.
My plan had been to stop at restaurants and sites along the way (such as the oft-mentioned Alex’s Railside Restaurant in Sanford), but my 12 mph moving speed was a lot slower than my planned moving speed of 16 mph (hmmm… loaded touring bikes are slower than carbon road bikes!), so I quickly abandoned that plan and survived on Clif Bars instead. Photos could wait until Monday morning.
There are differences in the trail sections east of Clare versus west of Clare, as these are in fact two separate trails, and they don’t connect together in Clare as also mentioned in other reviews. East of Clare there are plentiful park benches, fixed restrooms, and vault toilets, i.e., plenty of places to have a rest and enjoy the scenery. The section west of Clare, though, is a state-managed state park, and its facilities are limited compared to the eastern section. There’s an occasional wooden bench, but I didn’t notice any toilets along the trail except where it passed through town parks.
As noted, the trails don’t connect in Clare, and so passing through the city roads for a couple of miles is required. Having read other reviews suggesting that highway 115 was dangerous with high speed traffic, I followed the Bicycle Route 20 signs (Maple Rd. becoming Beaver Ave.) to avoid the highway. It was uneventful but I actually didn’t like this road with no shoulder, up a grade, and no passing by cars allowed. For what it’s worth the cars ignored the solid yellow line and gave me very wide, very respectful berth that I wouldn’t expect in southeast Michigan, so this alternate is up to you.
Once back on the trail west of Clare the rest of the ride to Reed City was easy, smooth cruising. The surface is in nearly perfect condition the entire way (you’ll have no problems with skinny 23c’s). The town of Lake and its outskirts were especially pretty. Upon arriving at Reed City I finally dismounted for a proper rest and some photos, and met one of the guys from the Pere Marquette Snowmobile Club as they were doing some trail landscaping maintenance. He was also a bicycle rider and so we had a good conversation as I prepped my muscles for the return trip.
It looked like I was making good time on the way back, so I stopped and took photos in Lake and at Lake Station. There’s a great, little party store across the road where I purchased some sports drink, and the staff were friendly and not at all surprised to see a bicyclist in October. Although I grew up in the thumb, it’s easy to forget how friendly Michiganders are outside of southeast Michigan.
Arriving outside of Clare I decided to tempt fate and try highway 115. The shoulder was plenty wide, and again any passing cars gave me wide, respectful berth. Having the shoulder, in my mind, makes this part of the route preferable to Bicycle Route 20. And it took me directly to the Doherty Inn where I had a reserved, bicycle-friendly room waiting for me.
I’m not meaning to review the Doherty Hotel here, but if you’re passing through on this route it’s good to know that they were extremely welcoming to me and my bike. They had a ground floor room close to a door already waiting for me, and they welcomed me to bring my bike into my room. I ordered dinner in their crowded lobby bar, and it was excellent (although a hungry cycling might tell you anything is excellent after 110 miles).
Because it was a weekday I ate the included buffet breakfast (awesome biscuits and gravy) instead of going to Cops and Doughnuts as I’d intended, and then headed back out. Uneventful, leisurely ride back to Midland with plenty of stops for photos this time. It’s a shame the colors were so late; everything was still green except for the sumac. Arrived back at the Tridge, packed the car, changed in the Farmers’ Market restroom, and had a great lunch within easy walking distance at a place called Amazing Deli.
Based on my experience on this trail system I’ll probably try out some of Michigan’s other trails, too, before returning to this one, but I definitely plan to return one of these days.
My aunt and I rode from Evart to Clare and back, 50 miles round trip, that took us roughly 4 hours to ride in August 2015. We ate at a cute diner in Farwell called, the Nest Diner. Good prices, very friendly, good diner food.
We weren't too happy with riding our bikes along M-115 to get to Clare, it's a very busy highway, so we turned around. The Rail Trail ends at a Moose Lodge and then you have to ride on the highway a mile or two to Clare.
Lake has a friendly bar/restaurant that we stopped to get a beer and a grasshopper because the trail had tons of grasshoppers that kept hitting me. haha Great day!
I rode the trail from Clare to Midland a few months ago, and it was great. It is a nice easy ride and a lot to see and hear. You get to experience how pretty Central Michigan is when you are out on the trail. You get to hear lot of wildlife: birds, chipmunks, squires. I saw painted turtles, many birds, and other small woodland creatures. You feel very safe and secure on the trail.
We just rode the section from Baldwin to Reed City (about 18 miles one way). This section is supposedly paved with crushed limestone but I would call it more of a gravel mix. We did not get the typical white powder on the bike that you would normally get with crushed limestone. Also this is a pretty loose surface not the almost rock hard surface that you get with crushed limestone. This makes the surface really slow. We normally average around 15 MPH but managed only 10 MPH on this ride. I would estimate that the surface is a good 4 or 5 MPH slower than an asphalt surface. Also it felt like your tires were going to go out from under you most of the time. We ride a road tandem with 1.5 inch tires and had 90 PSI of air in them. It would probably be better to have wider and software tires when riding this section of the trail.
The city of chase about 10 miles from Baldwin is near the highest elevation on this part of the trail and you ride gently uphill when approaching from either direction. There is a nice restaurant just south of the trail in Chase where we stopped for a snack.
This section of the trail is quite remote although it generally follows Highway 10 which is often visible as you ride. You pass many small ponds and there was an area where many Turk's cap lilies were in bloom. This section of the trail has no rest stops or bathrooms other than a road side park on the north side of Highway 10 which you can access from a spur off the trail about 7 miles from Baldwin. The road side park has pit toilets and water. Once you get to Reed City there is a beautiful depot with flush toilets and water. There are a few benches along the way but these are few and far between.
We have ridden all of the rest of the trail other years and much prefer an asphalt surface. We will not be riding this section of the trail again. It is really too bad that they did not pave this part of the trail with asphalt. If they did Reed City could have been competition to Xenia, Ohio as a trail destination. Especially once the rest of the White Pine trail is paved.
we rode 55 miles of this trail from Evart to Midland. you can feel the elevation drop riding west to east. the trail is in great condition its a fun ride for all ages. I highly recommend staying at the "H" hotel downtown Midland the hotel is literally on the trail at the tridge.
I have spoken to many riders since the hard packed crushed limestone improvements of July 2014 were made. All riders rode a variety of bike types and all said the trail could be ridden on with everything from road bike to fat tire trail bikes. Remember, however, opinions are based on what one prefers and/or is accustomed to. Baldwin has a nice downtown, with a couple boutiques, art gallery, restaurants/bar and desert shops. It is a beautiful ride to Reed City, everything from woodland forests and ponds to country farms. Half way between Baldwin and Chase is access from the trail to a US10 roadside park where there is water and restrooms. About 1/2 way between Baldwin and Reed City is the town of Chase. There you will find a convenience store, restaurant, post office and some interesting old buildings.
For more information, photos, etc., regarding the section of Pere Marquette State rail trail between Baldwin and Reed City please visit:
Rode from Clare to Evart and stayed the night at the Osceola Grand Hotel. The colors are just beginning to turn. Great, paved and wide trail.
The newest, (so-called), paved section of this trail from Reed City to Baldwin IS NOT paved contrary to some reports. It is a stone mix and actually they did a poor job of spreading it and packing it down. Whoever the contractor was must have been in a hurry or they just did not care about their work because compared to other stone trails I have seen, this one is quite sloppy. Because Tricky Ricky Snyder and his crony friends decided to finish the final section of this trail in stone, rather than asphalt like the other 90% of it, they have eliminated the use of many handcycles, scooters, roller bladers, roller skiers and other similar equipment users even though our tax dollars were spent and we too would like to enjoy this section of the trail... especially because nearby sections of the same trail and the connecting White Pine Trail have been destroyed by studded snowmobile users. Shame on whoever made the decision to finish this trail in stone... you have unfairly made this part of the Pere-Marquette inaccessible to many people who were looking forward to riding it!
Rode from M66 to west edge of Reed City and back. No shade. Few road crossings - thats nice. A couple of big dips a little east of Reed City.
One road crossing east of Reed City is sandy, so if going fast, that could throw you. Saw deer, rabbits, lots of birds. East of Evart is nicer that west, but still a nice ride.
I rode the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail from Clare to Reed City and back. This trail is much different than the Midland to Clare section. There are really no facilities, water fountains, and only a couple of shaded rest areas. This felt much more like an adventure ride, which I like.
The trail has inclines, curves, limited road crossings, remotes areas, views, and wildlife.
I was rather disappointed in the Clare to Farwell area as there was drug and sex graffiti painted on the trail, and I was passed by two riders on off-road motorcycles.
Overall I really like this trail and would recommend it if you want a longer ride with some opportunities for solitude.
What can you say about the Pere Marquette rail trail. Goes from Midland to Clare, MI (30 miles one way). The trail is well groomed and has mile markers. Lots of shade along the way. I always start in Midland and go 10 miles through Sanford and back. There are rest stops in Midland and Sanford as well as water supply and vending machines. This is one of my favorite rail trails. Its one of the longest around mid Michigan. There is also a side trail the Chippewa rail trail which is a nice 4 mile getaway. There are many stops along the way where you can spend a lot of time off the beaten path. Bring some money with you as you can stop at Alex's railside restaurant- they have an outdoor patio to cater to the cyclists. The serve softdrinks, ice cream cones and a full menu. This is also one of Michigans oldest rail trails which dates back to the 1980's. There is plenty of parking at the Midland trail head famrers market. This rail trail will not disappoint.
Last week my wife, son, and I loaded our bikes on the truck and took a ride over to Sanford to ride the trail. All we can say is AWESOME !
The trail and area around the trail was spotless.
We will be returning many times to ride on the trail. I bet the fall colors will be great!
We rode the trail from Cadillac to Leroy and Reed City to just past Sears and back. The snow is finally gone but the unpaved section between Leroy and Reed City was still a little to wet and soft for our hybrid tires. We have ridden this section in years prior when the trail was dryer with no problems. It was a great day on the trail. Glad Spring has finally come to Northern Michigan.
Has the ice and snow melted? Good riding yet?
My husband and I were absolutely delighted to learn that the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail is so well maintained in the winter! We utilized the trail this morning for our long run while we were in town visiting family and the path was cleared better than most of the roads! (And this is after a huge winter storm had just gone through the area!) We started from the Midland trailhead at the Tridge and having the longer run of the two of us, I ran north all the way out past Sanford without any issue! 9.25 miles of cleared pathway! I could easily see before I turned around to head back that the path continued on just as clear as far as the eye could see. I've never been to the path before today but can see how beautiful it must be during the other seasons and now that we know it's cleared in the winter, we'll definitely be back to use again. There were so many other runners, walkers, and even a cyclist out using the path as well.
I am new to biking (about 2 months) and I have to say that this is the best trail I have ridden so far. An experienced cyclist friend of mine suggested we should ride this trail from Midland to Clare and back. I was a little reluctant to the idea since I was afraid I am not yet ready to ride 60 miles in one day. I WAS WRONG. I enjoyed every bit of the ride.
The trail is very well maintained and well marked. We parked at the Tridge in Midland, a beautifully crafted 3 bridges joined together. We set up on our ride towards Clare and noticed several wildlife along the trail. There were also signs to several museums and towns along the way. After Coleman, which is about 20 miles from Midland, you are given the distance to the next road intersection from the one you are currently located. The last 10 miles is also more rural with you have the wind in your face.
In Clare, the trail ended near downtown. We decided to go into town to get something to eat. To our surprise, even though Clare is a small town, it does have a lot of local eateries that stay open 24 hrs a day. The people are very nice and even gave us directions to the nearest bike store in case we need it.
After an hour rest, we headed back to Midland and since we now have the wind on our back, we were cruising at an average speed of 15 miles/hr. The whole 60 mile ride took us about 6 hours. We put our bikes in the car and have a 1 mile walk around the tridge before going to dinner in downtown Midland. I know I will ride this trail again in the near future.
I parked at the Depot in Reed City and rode the trail east to the end. Absolutely wonderful!! Great scenery, quiet and peaceful. It's so nice to be able to enjoy a long ride without the noise and hazards of traffic. The Iron Skiillet Restaurant in Evart is a great place to stop for a cup of coffee. This is a nice trail to ride throughout the riding season, and should be particularly beautiful in the fall.
The New 11 mile section to be paved is done and open for use !!
does anyone know if they are going fix the bridge on the trail just west of clare. would love to start biking from lake to clare without getting on the roads.
My wife and I were there over the 4th, and they had just finished paving (there were still barricades and equipment at spots). It is a wonderful ride!
I was in Evart the 1st week in June and the trail east of their has been dozed. There will be a new paved section linking Evart and the pavement just east of Partridge Rd. near Lake. This will create a paved trail from Reed City to 3-4 miles west of Clare, totalling 36 miles. You can then ride the roads into Clare and pick up the Pere Marquette Trail to Midland which is another 30 miles of pavement. I take Maple Rd. into town, then picked up the trail on the east side of town. US-10 wasn't a good route the last time I was there. As soon as it is complete, which the news article on it states the end of July, it should be done. This is wonderful since there was no good paved route between Evart and Lake. US-10 is just too dangerous with an 8" shoulder.
This trail is in excellent shape. The asphalt is in good shape you can ride fast without any issues. We rode from Clare to the Tridge at Midland and all the road/driveway crossing are clearly marked. Traffic on these cross roads is not bad either. Additionally there are sizes at most if not all the road crossings that have maps of the entire trail. Closer to Midland there are addition trails that branch off. We however did not explore these so I don't know the condition of these paths. Another nice aspect of this trail is that there are bathrooms throughout the trail. Great Trail. We need even more trails like this in Michigan.
Pere Marquette Rail-Trail ...first 10 miles.....wonderful trail for easy riding.
My husband and I rode the trail last fall from Baldwin to Reed City and back on 25 year old 3 speed bicycles. Never had to walk the bikes and no mechanical troubles. The trail was rough, but the grassy areas were mowed. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. Ponds, farmland, tamarack stands, cedars, deer, lots of beauty. Look on Facebook for: "Rails to Trails, Lake County, Michigan" for photos and descriptions of the trail. Please show your support for this section of trail by "liking" the page. Public support is needed for the possibility of future improvements.
I am a regular user of this fantastic trail system and wanted to let those unfamilair with the trail in on a little secret. There is an additonal 4 mile side trip that is a must ride for those trying this trail out. It extends from the Tridge in downtown Midland ( where the trail is said to "begin") and goes to the Chippewa Nature Center , west of town. The trail is all paved and goes through open and wooded areas. To continue on this trail, ride or walk your bike on the tridge from the trailhead area. At the center of the three-way tridge, turn left (west) and exit the tridge in that direction. The trail will traverse through two seperate ball diamond areas, seperated by a cross road.Stop and watch a game if desired. From there it will contniue East, winding it's way through open fields, over two bridges and through dense woods. Note also that after the second series of ball diamonds is passed, there is a trail that exits to the left. This trail goes a short distance to a circular overlook area with benches. (A peacefull place to take a nap or stop and rest) The main trail continues , crossing several roads and enters the Chippewa Nature Center area. In this area, you will pass a large pond and some mature wooded areas. Note also that at about the 2 mile mark on this trail you may spot R.C. planes off in the distance flying about. That is because the Midland R.C. club is located just beyond the trail , to the south. I can't tell you what fun it is to stop on the bench and watch the planes fly while catching your breath. The trail ends at the Chippewa Nature Center. There, you will find shelter and water just off the trail at the end. The nature center was remodeled in 2010 and has some fantastic features. The trail also has two areas that contain old apple orchards. One is between the ball diamond areas and the other is out in the open field area. In the Fall, I like to stop and pluck a few apples for the trail.
This is my favorite part of the entire 35 mile trail system and comes highly recomended!
As another heads up - the Pere Marquette is plowed from Sanford to Midland all winter,a 10 mile stretch.
I took this ride last Sunday, August 15th and it afforded a pleasant 25 mile ride. The paved portion of the Pere Marquette State Trail on the eastern end of the trail begins at the Moose Lodge on MI 115 just west of Clare. Currently there is construction on MI 115 so riding out from Clare directly is not safe as the road is only two lanes wide with no shoulder. This will probably be complete within a month however. Starting at the Moose lodge, the trail is paved for 12.5 miles and the paved portion ends just past the Mystic Lake YMCA camp. The pavement is in good condition although evidence of snowmobile use is present as scratches in the pavement, but this does not cause any issue with the ride. There is one ~25 ft section that is currently unpaved about 2 miles into the ride where the trail crosses a road that is in the process of being paved. Again this should be complete within 1-2 months. The trail generally increases in elevation as you head west but at a very slight grade. Initially the trail follows MI 115 to Farwell which is about 3 miles. After Farwell the trial diverges from MI 115 and passes through the Gladwin State Forrest Area which is fairly remote passing through forest, swamps, and open areas. The trail then picks up and parallels Mystic Lake Road on the left and MI 10 on the right around Perch Lake and Crooked Lake and continues to Mystic Lake. Although I was riding in the middle of the day, I only saw 6 walkers and 3 other cyclists so the trail gets minimal usage. I live in Midland so riding to Clare on the Pere Marquette Rail Trail (30 miles), plus 2.5 miles to the Moose lodge (once the construction is complete - from the Rail Trail end follow Pine St. north to 5th St and turn left, cross US 127/N. McKwan St. and this becomes Ludington Dr./MI 115), plus another 12.5 miles to Mystic lake will afford a 90 mile round trip ride. If you include the 4 mile section from Midland to the Chippewa Nature center this will give a 98 mile paved ride which can easily be extended to give a century. Yahoo!!! Note: While construction is being completed on MI 115 out to the Moose Lodge, according to a map, as you leave Clare you can peel off to the right on Ann Arbor Trail by the railroad tracks, follow this to the end, turn left onto Grant Ave., cross MI 115, turn right onto Maple Rd., continue on this as it becomes Beaver Rd., and then catch the Pere Marquette State Trail about halfway between the Moose Lodge and Farwell. I have ridden this to Maple Rd but not from there to the State Trail as I wasn't sure it would connect up at the time.
July 24, 2010 We have also been on 6 other rail-to-trails this season, so we were excited to give this one a try on what turned out to be a fairly hot summer Saturday. We started in Clare (parked next to the downtown Library, one block from the Doherty Hotel), and rode to Sanford, then back (approx. 43 miles). This is an excellently maintained trail, hardly a crack in the surface throughout the entire ride. Well marked, with several superb (new) rest areas on the trail. Our suggestion would be to actually start in Coleman for those seeking a tad shorter distance (25 miles), since adjacent to the trail is a very enjoyable restaurant which serves the bicycling trail users very well. [Crossroads Restaurant?] Then, by heading to Sanford, be certain to stop at the county park located just north of the trail - it has easy access to this exceptionally fine beach area for swimming/volleyball/and picnicking. The stretch of trail from Coleman BACK to Clare does have a slight uphill grade, which while not unmanageable, did not add to our experience. Expect the scenery on this trail to fairly ordinary when compared to many of the other trails throughout the state we have been on. If you like farmland and not forests, this IS the trail for you. Somewhat surprisingly, it was not heavily used on this otherwise beautiful Saturday.
As we speak the new trail (paved) is being completed west from its previous ending point. The 2009 paving improvements ended 2 miles west of Farwell in the middle of the forest. Paving has picked up from there and is reported to be going to the Osceola County line. It is still being worked on. However, the barricades were not in place the other day and I rode as far west as Lake Station Avenue. The paved trail picks up 2 miles west of Clare in front of the Moose Lodge on M-115/US10. There is a gravel parking lot there. It is 3 miles into Farwell. In Farwell there is paved parking at either end of the little village park (angle on the street, but convenient to the trail) and a large gravel lot at the west end of town at the intersection of M115/US 10 and Old State Road/Vandecar Road. From there it is 4 miles west (no houses, no roads, total wilderness) to the next crossroad, Bringold Road. Going westward the next crossroad is Maple Grove Road, about 1.8 miles. Further west, 1.2 miles to Lake. In both Farwell and Lake there are convenience stores available, and food (in the bar, or in Farwell there is a subway and pizza places). I have not gone past Lake yet, but will report. There are no trail parking lots between Farwell and Lake. There is gravel parking adjacent to the trail in Lake. Right now there is a beautiful display of cardinal flowers (wildflowers) just west of Maple Grove Road along a creek. The trail is flat with the exception of some hills between Farwell and Bringold Road in the last 2 miles or so of that segment.
absolutely awesome on so many levels! we biked this trail for the first time just yesterday, july 10, 2010, and still cannot stop talking about our experience! we are becoming avid bikers, exploring trails within about a four hour drive from us and came upon this trail at this excellent website. we are still relative beginners but have become pretty much "saddle ready" and decided to tackle this trail. we began in midland at the farmer's market ( mile marker 0) and made it to the loomis street mark (about 4 miles from clare, the endpoint). everything was as listed in previous comments and this website....it was well-marked, well maintained (no litter, smooth pavement, well-mowed), plenty of friendly establishments for cool refreshments, plenty of actually decent potty-spots, nice and level,...we just can't say enough! we live about 15 minutes from the prairie-duneland trail in porter, in and this is all that x3. we were able to rent bikes at Ray's bike stop literally 2 blocks away from the trail's beginning and they were fabulous as well.
I picked up the trail at Nirvana. The weeds were 12 to 30 inches tall. There are no "tracks". The trail is rough. I had to ride in 4th of 9 gears to keep up any momentum. From Nirvana to Chase there is really no justification to call this a trail. At Chase a "two track" was worn in. That made is easier to ride. From Reed City to Everet the pavement is wonderful. Beyond Everet it's back to a "two track". It's better than the Chase to Reed City leg, although there are several soft parts which might be seriously muddy in the spring. Just west of Lake, the trail was closed due to an improvement project. the trail is graded but hasn't been paved. I found this interim state to be no worse than the "two track" so I rode around the barriers and stayed on the trail. Pavement picks up west of Farwell and continues almost all the way to Clare, where the trail ends again due to a bridge that has no deck.
We have ridden lots of trails but this one is really pretty, we started at the town of Clare and rode to Midland and back. The trail was just beng completed at the Clare end. We took some photos to show our local folks back home what a number (1) trail looks like. We stayed at the Dohorty hotel which was really close to the Care trail head.
Jim & Mary, Sept 09
On September 4, 2009 I found the current east trailhead of the Pere Marquette State Forest Trail to be about 2 miles west of Clare on the south side of Business US-10/M115 with trail parking but no rest rooms. Look for the Moose Lodge sign as the trail lot shares a drive with the Lodge. From here about 5 miles of trail has been freshly paved with asphalt to about 1.5 miles west of Farwell. From that point the trail changes to graded, firm gravel for about 4 miles, then to grass-covered gravel/dirt (with occasional loose sand stirred up by horses) which continues to Partridge Avenue where I turned around at about 14 miles west of the current east trailhead. It proved to be a pretty easy ride on a comfort mountain bike.
This is a great section of trail with varying landscapes that include dense forest, wetlands, lakes, streams, and farmland. Restaurants and snacks are available in the small towns of Farwell and Lake. Farwell is the larger of the two with more stores and has a small park with picnic tables and playground within sight of the trail. Also, there is trail parking in Farwell where the trail crosses Vandecar Road. Some of the trail is quite close to US10 so it can be noisy at times but that is more than offset by a fantastic 3 mile stretch through isolated state forest lands where civilization is neither seen nor heard. The trail seems to be underused as I saw less than 10 trail-users the whole time and all but one were on the paved portion. Similar to a previous post about Reed City to Partridge Avenue on the same trail, this was also a most enjoyable ride and I would recommend it also.
By the way, a similarly named trail, the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail of Mid-Michigan, has its western terminus on the opposite side of Clare, about a mile east at a tunnel under the US-127 expressway. That is where I started my trip that day and found a relatively simple way to make the connection for anyone riding both trails in one trip. Thanks to the City of Clare there is a newly constructed paved trail that took me into town. That trail pretty much ends at Fourth Street where I turned left and continued 3 blocks west, took a ninety degree curve to the right/north and then to the stop sign at Fifth Street (a.k.a. BusinessUS10/M115). I turned left and proceeded about 1.5 miles west to the current east trailhead of the PM State Forest Trail on the left. US10 has a paved “bike shoulder” but I chose to stay on the gravel farther to the right since the speed limit increases to 55 as you leave town.
A friend and I just rode the Pere Marquette Trail this past weekend. The trail is well maintained, is a great beginner's trail, and we enjoyed our ride very much. The second draw for us is the fact we are both geocachers. There are now plenty of caches along the trail for us to find. We had a wonderful ride & find weekend, except for the storm that luckily passed through the area fairly fast. We only chose to do a little caching because it was our first time riding this distance and our main objective was to ride the trail. We loved the trail, the well spaced facilities, the places to visit along the trail and of course the caching! We will be back to finish the caching part of the trail!
On August 23, 2008 I rode Reed City to Partridge Avenue (just west of the village of Lake) and back on my Giant Sedona ‘comfort’ mountain bike. Round trip was about 46 miles.
The trail is presently paved about 15 miles from the west city limits of Reed City to the east side of Evart, passing by Hersey and Sears on the way. I found the asphalt to be in good shape. Although there is obvious wear from snowmobiles down the center, riding near the sides kept things smooth. A short detour was required just east of Evart where a bridge over the Muskegon River is closed for refurbishing. From there the trail was primarily gravely dirt (some packed, some loose) or grassy dirt. A section runs about 15 feet below the surrounding land and there are some wet spots that want to suck your tires to halt. Since we hadn’t received much rain prior, I suspect they are always there. There is a family campground east of Sears that has horses so the trail is quite loose and rough near there.
Outside of the towns the scenery consists of flat to gently rolling farmland, wetlands, and woods. There is a nice overlook of the Muskegon River between Hersey and Evart. I would recommend the side loop (hard packed gravel) on the west side of Evart that takes you down to a couple of picnic areas right along the banks of the Muskegon. There is a map of it along the main trail.
After passing a group of about 30 bikers coming into Reed City as I was leaving, I never saw another human on the trail. Too bad because it is a nice trail. A doe and two fawns crossed the trail about 30 yards in front of me and another deer stood right in the middle staring at me before running. Although the unpaved section can be a little demanding at times, all in all it was an enjoyable ride and I would highly recommend it.
I rode the full length of the PMRT Midland to Clare and back on Labor Day. Beautiful ride on a perfect sunny day. Excellent safe trial, well maintained, with great facilities. Highly recommend to both beginner and advanced bikers and family outings with the kids. Things end rather abruptly in Clare, no facilities, rest area, etc at the end of the line, but a short ride into downtown Clare on surface roads. The proposed connector line through Clare to the DNR Pere Marquette Sate Trail would be fantastic if/when completed.
All trails cannot be everything to everyone. But a proper mix of crushed stone makes an ideal trail surface that can be enjoyed by both snowmobilers and bicyclists alike. I have a recreational mountain bicycle with crossover tires and actually prefer riding on hard-packed gravel or crushed stone instead of asphalt. I concede, it may not work for ‘road bikes’ but that is exactly why they are called road bikes and not trail bikes. I think it is great that some trails are paved where road bikes can share the trails with trail bikes. But some of us ride to escape the ‘asphalt jungle’. Crushed stone just seems to ‘fit’ the landscape better as you get out into the country. As an added bonus, it is my understanding that the initial cost and maintenance cost are both less than asphalt. I just finished a ride from Reed City to Baldwin and back and would have loved to have had nice hard-pack the entire distance.
The Reed City to Baldwin section appears to be a great snowmobile trail but it is not a trip for the casual bicycle rider. Rode this section 08/16/08 on my Giant recreational mountain bike (about 31 miles round trip). Asphalt ends just outside of Reed City. I enjoy riding unpaved trails but this section was a chore for me. Less than half was hard-packed gravel. The rest was loose stone (left over railroad ballast?) mixed with weeds or just weeds. Trail was mowed but some of the stubble was so coarse that it would catch my spokes. A good map is recommended because the crossroads are not always labeled and there are no mile markers.
If you bring your billfold, Reed City and Baldwin have places to spend money but I did not venture into any of the three small towns along the way to see what they might have. At about the halfway point is a roadside park along highway US10 that has a hand pump and pit toilets. There is a BBQ restaurant right next to the western portion of this trail section. The trail pretty much parallels US10 which is often within view and/or earshot but the trail also veers away from the highway for several miles at a time for some peace and quiet. There are some streams and wetlands visible from the trail as well as open fields but no memorable vistas. Shade is limited (no canopy like some trails). I saw a crane, a turkey, and a deer.
I am trying to ride all of the rails-to-trails in lower Michigan so I am glad I conquered this section of the PMT. But I doubt if I would ride it again unless the trailbed is improved.
Absolutely no snowmobile funds were used in the construction of this trail, the only thing your fees pay for
is the equipment that volunteers use to maintain it for the snowmobiling community I suggest you be a little more cogniscent of your suroundings and start respecting the trail for what it is worth.
Every trail I have ridden where there are horses allowed the trails are not only a mess but eventually the asphalt is torn up so bad you can forget riding a road bike down the trail. It's really to bad that all this money is spent on these beautiful trails and in the end pretty much the only people who will end enjoying them will be the horse back riders and snowmobilers, such a waste... Evidently snowmobilers think that they built the trail so they feel it their right to destroy it. I really got a kick out of one comments that they should of just used lime stone, this person claims that they ride both snowmobiles and bikes, he must of meant dirtbikes. Our driveway at our cabin is crushed limestone, the last thing you want to do is drive a roadbike over that type of surface.. It's to bad the state of MI doesn't have the man power or funds to patrol these trails to keep them safe for everyone to enjoy for years to come..
"The trail system has added two additional links to it's excellent system. Both in the city of Midland, the first is accessed at the Farmer's Market ( near the tridge) and extends along the Tittabawwasse river, then past the new Dow Diamond and north roughly parellel to business 10. The entire lenghh is about 3 miles and is all newely paved and landscaped.The city of Midland plans to eventually make this an entire loop that will go around the city and end back at the main trail west of the city.
The second is a spur off the Chippewa trail that takes you to Overlook Park on Poseyville Rd. It is all paved but does use sidewalks along Poseyville Rd that are rough in areas.
May I suggest a spur off the main trail in the Sanford area to the Pine Haven Recreation area, which has the best mountain biking trails in central MI. That would be just one more facet in this gem of a system.
"The Pere Marquette trail has an additional four mile spur added on at the Midland trail head. To access this section of the trail, cross the tridge to the Chippewa section which is to the left. Follow the trail as it is well marked. This spur goes four miles to the Chippewa Nature Center. The Chippewa Nature Center is an excellent place to visit with the family including many additonal foot only trails with an excellent visiting center and many working displays including the sugar maple house and the centennial farm. They also have many trails that meander through the forest and the wetlands. This is an excellent relationship between the Friends of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail and the Chippewa Nature Center. Please come and enjoy our beautiful scenic area."
"Even though there is a 10' nice flat shoulder on both sides of this asphalt trail, snowmobile rs, who apparently think somehow they paid for this trail, are simply destroying it. Why they think they have the right to destroy this trail is unknown. I guess just because they think they paid for it they must ruin it."
"Hey, Snowmobile Trail Fees PAID for this trail. I happen to ride snowmobiles and bikes and think both should be able to co-exist. Paving multi-use trails is the problem. A better solution is a crushed limestone screen that is smooth for bikes and doesn't get tore up by snowmobiles. Before you criticize snowmboiles, remember that their money help pay for these trails. Thank them instead!"
"The Pere-Marquette trail in between Hersey and Everett, a section that was just paved a couple years ago is being destroyed. Yesterday I rode this trail and I have never seen as much horse poo on a trail as this one...especially the 5 miles or so just west of Everett. Not just down the edge of the trail or off to one side of it... but it was strategically spread right down the middle... dead center... down the trail for about a 5 or 6 mile section. I ride a handcycle and my middle wheel throws all the road debris right up on my cloths and body... so what a nice gesture it is to get horse all over myself! Someone could probably go fill a pick up truck with all the horse that is currently on the trail. The snowmobilers are just tearing this trail up too. Within another year or two they will have the asphalt destroyed and this trail has as wide and level of shoulders as any in Michigan. There is absolutely no excuse for horses or snowmobilers to be allowed to destroy this trail as they have about 10 feet on either side of the trail that can easily use... but no... they need to destroy it. And if nothing is done... it will continue. Even though there are some signs up and some have been destroyed by vandals... most likely on snowmobile... the signs are being ignored and there are no horse etiquette signs regardless. Its the first time I rode this section this year and what a disgusting mess it was...please get this message to the right people so appropriate action can be taken to put an end to this destruction.... I am not sure if MDOT or the DNR is in charge but there are some DNR signs on some sections of the trail... please help before this one... like the sections between Big Rapids and Reed City and Reed City to Hersey are totally destroyed!!!!
" Our whole family rode this wonderful, clean trail 20.5 miles each way from Coleman to Midland. What a time!
The trail is very smooth, I think I went over two bumps the entire time on the trail. All the road crossings are paved and smooth too. Also clean and well kept.
We found benches to take breaks on, and bathrooms were conveniently located on the trail every few miles.
For lunch, we ate at the Railside Restaurant in Sanford which had delicious food. Twelve cyclists were there in the time we ate lunch.
Midland, Sanford and Coleman had large, modern, clean, restrooms. There were also drinking fountains.
This trail is so incredible, as accurately reported in RTC Magazine, that we might end up moving to the Midland area."
"The length of the trail between Midland and Clare is actually thirty miles, a sixty mile round trip. Be prepared!"
Great trail. Please visit my web page at the link below for a full review including photos at:
"I have to agree that there is not much from Reed City to Evart to see or do. There are no facilities along the way. This includes no stores to replenish your supplies. The condition of the asphault is in fair to poor condition so I recommend tire skins to avoid flats. Eventually, this section of the trail will be paved the full length going into the portion of the Pere Marquette trail that runs from Clare to Midland. Until then, I recommend the ride from Reed City to Big Rapids.
"Reed City to Big Rapids is a picturesque trail that is in a wooded setting that goes along the Muskegon River passing through Paris Michigan. This portion of the trail is 13 miles in length and is paved in good condition. Paris is the midpoint of the ride offering a campground, fish hatchery, and stores & eateries to replenish yourself. I recommend that you go fully prepared taking the opportunity of restocking and resting at the midpoint in Paris. There are many beautiful views of the Muskegon River along with opportunities of viewing many birds and animals along the way. It is certainly a recommended ride to take."
"I am a resident of the area remembering the times that trains went down the track to the birth and establishment of the trail system. An excellent place to bicycle with many places of interest on the way. Midland is rich in culture with museums, art, Dow Gardens, etc. Sanford too has a museum depicting the earlier days of the area. Many places to eat, buy refreshments, and lodging. Sanford also has an area dedicated to mountain biking. The trail has already stretched to Clare and I look forward to the day that it stretches across the state. My family has enjoyed numerous miles on the trail and I know your family will do the same.
"From Reed City to Farwell, the trail for this time of year is not bad. There are some bare spots where there are paved and open areas. In the bush, it's absolutely great riding for mid-March. It looks like last a winter blast is on the way for the 20-21st of March. We will see."
"Last summer we rode the Pere Marquette from where the White Pine crosses it to Evart twice. We started in Big Rapids rode the White Pine to Reed City and then the Pere Marquette to Evart. This makes a nice half century ride.
The Pere Marquette is now paved all the way to Evart. It passes through farms that raise general agricultural products and through large Christmas tree plantations. Nearing Evart the trail leave to old rail bed, it seems to avoid a swampy area. After passing behind a some auto-parts plants the trail finally reaches the end of the pavement at the steel bridge on the east side of town. Just before you reach the bridge there is a park and the old freight and passenger station that has been made into a community center.
Both times we rode it we found the traffic to be very light. As usual we were often stopped to discuss the bikes (Rans V-Rex recumbents) that we ride. We always find people on the path to be very friendly and even willing to help if you have a problem. Riding the two trails together makes for an excellent day's ride. Try it this summer."
"We have ridden many rail trails in several states including, Ohio, Pennsylvannia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, South Carolinia and Michican. This is by far the best designed, built and maintained rail-trail that we have ever ridden. It is a showplace for other states to learn from. The surface facilities and signage are supurb. It's not much for senic views but it makes up for it in every other department."
"The recently ompleted segment of this trail from the Reed City end To Evert is really nice. All blacktop and well done on the Evert end. 13 miles in length a good day ride to and from. More enjoyment can be had by riding this and then switching to the White Pine trail and riding to Big Rapids,This will total about 30 miles one way. A recent ride on the Reed City to Evert section produced the sighting of three Deer and 3 Blue Herons along with a Bald Eagle. A stop at the Hersey General Store is worth the short peddal in to Hersey. Huge Cookies Aand Brownies await you along with Hand dipped ice cream and for those watching calories and fat the even had baked Lays products."
Just rode Reed City to Evrat which is now asphalt all the way... about 14 miles one way. There is absolutly no shade or water along this route until you get to Hersey where there is a gas station. You could really get in trouble on a hot day here and also the trail is poorly marked as to where you are in relation to anything. If you needed help you would be guessing as to where you are because there are no mile markers of any kind. Allthough this trail goes through some nice country where you can see lots of wildlife... you can also see some real trailer trash along the pathway. It's not designed very well allthough it is flat and level. It is also a dumping ground for horses. It's a shame that so many horse riders have to be so disrespectfull to the asphalt surface. Even though the surface is new it is also going to be destroyed by snowmobilers who have already done some damage.
"My brother, John, and I rode the Pere Marquette Rail Trail from Clare to Midland and back on Saturday, August 21, 2004. It was a great day for riding, with blue skies and pleasant temperatures.
The trail is paved (asphalt) for the 30-mile route between Clare and Midland. It seemed wider than other trails I've ridden, and was very well maintained. (Snowmobiles are prohibited, so there was no tread damage, as is evident on the Musketawa Trail, for instance.)
The trail isn't particularly scenic, but is generally flat and straight for an easy ride. On hotter days, you'll be in the sun pretty much all the way, as there is little shade over the trail. Facilities and trail access are convenient. There are real bathrooms (not just port-a-potties) along the trail at various points and, since the trail runs basically parallel to a major road, you can park & ride from numerous spots along the route.
In addition, there are two restaurants right along the trail. One is located about 10 miles east of Clare and the other is about 8 miles west of Midland.
The Clare end of the trail starts just east of town, on the US-10 business route. There's a gravel parking area just under the tall overpass of US-127.
The Midland end of the trail, which seemed to get more usage from bicyclists, runners, dog walkers, and rollerbladers, is in a park at the confluence of the Chippewa and Titabawassee Rivers, by the ""Tridge"" (a 3-way pedestian/bicycle bridge over the two rivers). The Midland farm market also is right there, and Midland's downtown Main Street is just a block away. There are a few little restaurants/cafes along Main Street.
After a late breakfast at ""Omellette's & More"" in Midland, John & I wandered over the Tridge and through the Chippewassee Park a little, then headed back on our return route. We hadn't noticed the prevailing westerly wind helping us at our back on the way to Midland, but we couldn't help but notice riding into it on the way back to Clare. Total mileage was 61.25, with a total riding time of about 4 hrs, 20 minutes."
"This is one of the best rail trails in Michigan and by far and away is one of the most active too. On a hot day, however, you are a long way from good clean cold water and shade is not this trail's strong point. "
I recently rode this paved section for the first time. It certainly is a far cry from the Midland to Clare section of the paved trail. I hope that this section will improve with time. The section just before Reed City is in need of repair in several areas. It appears to be neglected and not very inviting. It is such a marked contrast to the eastern sections of the trail. Disappointing to say the least.
"This is the best trail in the region! It's well maintained, has nice scenery and there are plenty of amenities along the way. I love this trail!
Just to note, there is a great map available at www.lmb.org/pmrt/map-II.htm."
I rode the trail from Farwell to Lake today. It was a struggle with 26x1.95 tires. Some places were soft and sandy. Most of the trail was slippery round stone on a hard base.
I won't do it again. The trail needs a surface of crushed limestone to make it usable. The trail is marked for snowmobiles but that season is so short I don't know what the purpose of this trail is. The DNR should take a trip to Pennsylvania to see good unpaved bicycle trails.
"See my trail review, with photos, posted on the Cherry Capital Cycling Club website (www.cherry-capital.com/cccc). To go there directly, copy and paste this link into your Internet browser: www.cherry-capital.com/cccc/photos/2003/PMRT/index1.html"
"PM is great for inliners. I have done the 40 mile round trip from Midland to Coleman and I have found the trail very clean, although toward Midland keep an eye open for dog poop.
A restaurant near Sanford allows you to skate up to an outside window to order. It's a very flat trail with restrooms along the way. I skate PM 3 or 4 times per week and I'm surprised at how few people I see past Midland. There's a convenience store in North Bradley with a Powerade machine outside."
"Reed City has done a nice job on their portion of this trail; congrats to their group! If you're looking to bike the trail to Baldwin, have a mountain bike and wear long pants -- there are long sharp edged weeds covering the surface from Reed City onward. Parking at crossroads is non-existent. I scouted this trail for a trip and decided against it. However, the trail in Reed City is worth a day trip if you're traveling by car and looking for a place to ride for the day."
"I live in Saginaw and I take my mountain bike to the Pere Marquette trail at least 2-3 times a month. I usually do a 20 mile round trip and pack it up and head for home. This is the only course that I record all my speeds, times, avg. speed and all the info that my bike computer tells me. It's a very clean trail also. The scenery is good and there's even a railside restaurant to eat and drink. I could take my bike all over the Mid- Michigan area but I choose the Pere Marquette trail over all the others."
"This trail was great. Danielle and I road all the way to Sanford beach and got ice cream. They have restrooms and everything. I suggest this trail for everyone, and if you want to find Sanford lake just stop at the first rest area!"
"My husband and I just spent a very pleasant weekend riding from Midland to Clare and back on this magnificent trail. We normally don't care for paved trails, but the Pere Marquette is an exception. Everyone we met was very courteous and friendly. The trail is wide enough to pass slower users easily, and the facilities were more than adequate. It's great to find a rail trail with bathrooms...especially CLEAN bathrooms! All in all, it was a most enjoyable experience!"
The Pere Marquette snowmobile trails run from Clare through Evart and Reed City to Baldwin. It's a great trail to snowmobile on. The Pere Marquette Trals are well groomed and clean. Riding on them in mid-February was great.
"My wife and I rode this trail on 7-5-01 and it is truly marvelous. A trail with bathrooms, air!!, and numerous spots to replenish your energy and quench your thirst. This is the BEST of a number of rail trails we have ridden in the Ohio, Michigan, Illinois area, hands down. The town of Midland is a great place to stay with numerous lodgins and ""Omelette's N More"" is a good breakfast to start your day with (2 blocks from trailhead.) The downside is that you should STAY OUT OF ISABELLA COUNTY!!!!! I was ticketed for doing 59 in a 55 (cost $75.00) on M20. If this is how they treat out of state tourists, we should spend our money elsewhere. DO NOT BUY SO MUCH AS A CANDY BAR IN ISABELLA COUNTY, ther are enough other places to buy gas, food and lodging that the county is easily avoided. By the way, the Isabella county section of the trail is unfinished!! I wonder what they do with their ill gotten gains?"
"The review of the Pere Marquette trail is incomplete. The current completed length of the trail is 21 miles from Coleman, Michigan stretching east ending at Midland Michigan. There is a completed equestrian trail that starts east of Coleman city limits going east approximately 5 miles ending at the small settlement of North Bradley. The equestrian trail is fully marked, running adjacent to the paved portion of the trail. Currently, there is an expansion to the Coleman portion of the trail going west to the City of Clare, Michigan. This expansion will give an extension of another 10 miles of paved trail making the overall length of the trail 30 miles. However, at this time the preliminary construction is underway with no completion date given as to the completion of the expansion. With my visual inspection of the work done so far, my guess would be that the expansion should be completed sometime early summer of 2001.
There are many points of interest on the trail with a Bed and Breakfast in North Bradley, an historic museum in Sanford, many different parks and nature set asides for the viewing enjoyment, and bicycle shops in Coleman, Sanford and Midland. If you get the opportunity to visit this trail, I guarantee that you will be taken back with the natural beauty and the many places of interest on the way. "
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