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The Wadhams to Avoca Trail passes through 12 miles of woods and farmland in southeastern Michigan, but it’s the historic railroad bridge over Mill Creek that’s the big draw. Everyone from solo sightseers to participants in charity running events enjoy the breathtaking views 60 feet above the valley in an otherwise flat landscape.
The trail’s name reflects its initial endpoints, although the trail now extends from Avoca to the outskirts of Port Huron, about 4 miles from downtown. It follows the route of a railway built by the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad between Yale and Port Huron in 1890. It subsequently came under control of the Pere Marquette Railroad, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, and finally CSX, which sold the rail bed to the county in 1999.
Completed in 2003, the trail is covered in limestone fines for 6.7 miles from Avoca to McLain Road and paved the rest of the way to Griswold Road near Port Huron. Three trailheads offer vault toilets but no drinking water. After Avoca, there are no services for about 10 miles until the residential areas around Wadhams.
Starting in the rural town of Avoca, you’ll find the trailhead across the road from an old grain elevator located on the old rail right-of-way. A couple of diners in this rural town date to the 1880s, and the trailhead offers trailer parking, hitching posts, and vault toilets.
You’ll come to the Mill Creek Trestle in less than 2 miles. The 640-foot-long railroad bridge has been outfitted with side rails and decking for safety, plus four overlooks where visitors can enjoy the views without blocking passersby. The bridge is the destination of an annual Labor Day event called Trek the Trestle and a half marathon in the spring. A trailhead is located 0.8 mile south of the bridge. Because hardwood trees flank much of the trail, autumn is a spectacular time to visit. In addition to the colorful views from the trestle, numerous small ponds and wetlands next to the trail mirror the bright colors on the trees.
The trail mostly passes through rural farmland for the first 4 miles, making for a beautiful walk or ride during any season and a pleasant cross-country ski route. Passing just south of the Abbotsford crossroads community at 4.4 miles, you’ll enter a forest and pass tracts of the Port Huron State Game Area.
The last 5 miles, beyond McLain Road, is paved to the end at Griswold Road. This section of the trail passes through a developing residential area, where you’ll find fast-food restaurants and other services at Wadhams Road, the location of the last trailhead.
Three campgrounds are located within 1.5 miles of the trail at various points: on Imlay City Road (Ruby Campground), at McLain and Lapeer Roads (Fort Trodd), and off Lapeer Road between Wadhams and Allen (Port Huron KOA).
To reach the trailhead in Avoca from I-69, take Exit 189 toward Wales Center Road (the exit will last for about 0.5 mile). Head north on Wales Center Road, and go 1.4 miles. Turn left onto Old State Highway 21, and go 0.6 mile. Turn right onto Kilgore Road, and follow for 4.8 miles; then turn right onto MI 136 E./Avoca Road, and go 0.2 mile to Beech St. Turn right into where Beech St. and Main St. meet; at the Y, bear left on Main St., and look for parking immediately to your left.
To reach the closest parking for the eastern endpoint from I-69, take Exit 196 onto northbound Wadhams Road. Look for an overhead street sign for the trail in 0.1 mile; the parking entrance is just past the trail crossing. The trail ends 2.6 miles to the east, at Griswold Road.
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