Pere Marquette State Trail


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Pere Marquette State Trail Facts

States: Michigan
Counties: Clare, Lake, Osceola
Length: 53 miles
Trail end points: Michigan Avenue (Baldwin) and Maple Street (Clare)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 8629430

Pere Marquette State Trail Description

The Pere Marquette State Trail, managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, begins in Clare and courses for 53 miles west through beautiful woodlands and fields to Baldwin. If you want to go east from Clare, you can hop on the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail via a 1.5-mile on-road connection to travel 30 miles to Midland.

The eastern portion of the trail, from Clare to Reed City, is paved. The remainder of the trail is crushed limestone. The trail passes nearby wetlands, showcasing wildflowers and streams, and offers trailside benches to rest and enjoy the scenery. Along the way, you’ll cross over Baldwin River and Sanborn Creek; pass by bogs, lakes, and ponds; and trek through tamarack stands and rolling fields.

In Reed City, the trail intersects the White Pine Trail State Park just east of Old US 131/Chestnut Street. That trail travels a whopping 93 miles, north to Cadillac and south to Grand Rapids. This charming small town community makes a nice rest stop with a welcome center (including bathrooms) located in the Reed City Depot. The eye-catching building is modeled after the original 1892 train station.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available at the Baldwin trailhead on the trail’s west end. In Reed City (at 200 N. Chestnut Street) and Evart, parking and bathrooms are available at the restored railroad depots. In Farwell, parking is available in the City Park off Main Street.

Pere Marquette State Trail Reviews

Reed City to Baldwin

I could find neither a recent review, nor anyone who had recently completed this segment, so I decided to bike it myself and report.
This is not paved, and the crushed limestone requires a mountain bike, or fat tires at the least. I used my standard mountain bike and still had considerable fishtailing in areas. Old reviews speak to horse damage; I saw very little evidence of this.
Reed City to Chase is the worst segment, but there is a very nice tavern just south of the trail here that can raise your spirits, and recharge you to keep going west. From Chase the trail is wider, more level, and more amenable to higher speeds. The scenery is primarily US-10 to the north, and tertiary conifer forests to the south, with some stretches completely surrounded by forests.
I saw exactly zero fellow riders or walkers on the trail during my entire foray. Next time I do this route, I would be more comfortable with at least one companion rider.

Evart to Clare

Evart to Clare is one of the nicest stretches I’ve ever ridden. The trail is smooth and the scenery is beautiful. Anything west of Evart is barely rideable, with constant cracks and bumps. There wasn’t a lot of shade but there were plenty of places to stop along the way and cool off, including several bike friendly stores.

Farwell to Clare.

This was my first ride of the season and very enjoyable. Passed over a small stream and the stream meandered along the trail for a short section. Also traveled past wooded areas with shade and past a few small business. There is a small section that travels on the road for about 1.5 miles but I have heard they will be adding a paved section which will go into clare past the depot. Bathrooms present there .

Reed City to Baldwin ruined by horse traffic

The section between Reed City and Baldwin has been ruined by horse traffic. I have 32c tires on my hybrid bike and was hoping to ride that section yesterday, but turned around almost immediately due to the rough condition. If you have a mountain bike, it might be doable, but I don't imagine it would be very pleasant.

Also, be forewarned that there are no restrooms on the trail itself on the Clare to Reed City segment. There are a few options in town of Evart.

Overall, the Farwell to Baldwin section is decent. The older section between Evart and Reed City is starting to show it's age with cracks the have gone unsealed so have vegetation growing from them.

The Midland to Clare section is very well maintained and offers two permanent bathroom facilities, one each at about 12 miles from each trailhead.


built for speed

I biked for Farwell to Sears and back was time constrained so couldn't go further. I have to agree with the other reviewer that it is a pretty boring trail but really good pavement conditions and easy road crossings and if you just want to bike fast and getting some miles it's perfect. Warning in15 miles I did (one way) not a single public restroom. But I stopped about a mile and a half short of Sears so maybe they were bathrooms there

Great Trail

First time here on 7-29-17 and we rode it for 9 miles out of Clare. The trail was really well maintained and excellent for people with joint issues as it is mostly flat with gentle sloping grades at times. Will be back to ride more.

Farwell to Lake Station

My first experience on this trail, and I found it to be a gem! There's an incline most of the way from Farwell to Lake Station, but that made for an easy return trip! The trail goes through a heavily wooded area with notable wetlands and then pretty lakes. My husband and I were out fairly early in the morning and enjoyed seeing a lot of wildlife! I told him, "This could be my new favorite trail!"

There are no mile markers, but there were plenty of benches along the way and LOTS of natural beauty. In Farwell and Lake Station, there are some small businesses close to the trail too. We had a very nice ride and will definitely come back.

Not the most boring trail I've ever ridden,...

that would be the Pere Marquette Trail—at least the section from Midland to Coleman.

I rode from Clare to Evart and back so my comments only apply to the paved part of the trail.

While it's much better isolated from the sight and traffic noise of Highway 10—even when it's close by—than the Pere Marquette Trail, the sides of the trail are so wide and manicured that it really detracts from the sense of being out in nature. The fact that the trail is so wide and straight further contributes to it feeling more like you're on a bike highway than a trail. I much prefer the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail that runs from Alma to Greenville.

Plus one for the smooth, seamless trail surface that's great for fast riding and plus one to make up for the one star review of another reviewer.

Great Ride

My girlfriend and I rode west from Clare to Evert and enjoyed it tremendously. The road surface was smooth and free of joint cracks. The scenery was above par...lots of open meadows and heavily shaded forest sections of the trail. We stopped in Evert for a bite in a local diner then watched the kayaking activities along the river. I will be completing this ride on into Reed City and Baldwin before the end of summer with my hybrid along the gravel roads west of Reed City.

Reed City to Baldwin

This trail is often confused with the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail and you can get additional reviews for this trail there.

About 1.5 miles west of the depot in Reed City the asphalt ends and turns to some type of crushed stone. Could only manage another mile past that before turning around. The surface has loose stones and is pitted from all the horses that have been using the trail. That section is no better than ballast. I don't know how much of the trail the horses have been on and it would probably improve after that. My bike has 38C tires and it was slow going, a mountain bike would be a lot better.

I rode the trail in 2014 shortly after it was improved and I would have given it 3 stars back then. I wanted to ride it again thinking it would be harder packed after a couple of years. This surface is a waste of money and screened limestone should be the only surface used after asphalt.

It's a big disappointment to have this section when the rest of the trail from Reed City east is 5 stars.

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