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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.
I drove from Indiana to Ann Arbor for the weekend. My daughter and I drove from Ann Arbor to the north end of the trail and rode the complete trail both ways. Excellent trail..the trestle alone is worth riding the trail, but we found it to be well maintained and very scenic. There was some horse manure, but not so much that it wasn't easily avoided. The transition from farmland to woods, to suburbs was interesting. The only negative is that they did too good a job tearing out the railroad. There is almost nothing, other than the trestle, to show it was a railroad I saw one concrete base for a signal and one "W" whistle sign off to the side. I appreciate trails that preserve the history of the line, as much as is practical.
Great trail! Began in Avoca rode to McLain Rd. Trail was in good shape. Flat farmland for the most part. The tressel is a must see!
Started in Advoco and love the view about 2.5 miles as you travel wood bridge. Trail a bit rough as the rest is crushed limestone. Wooded and full of nature.
We road this trail today knowing from previous reviews to watch out for manure. That's no joke!!! Tons of it! My kids had a great time counting the piles. We counted over 30 piles. Otherwise a great little trail.
I've tried this trail a couple of times over the years. Sad to say but it's been taken over by Horse poop. Too bad, it's a beautiful trail, a lot of time and money have been spent on this trail to give bikes and walkers a place to go. If you don't want horse poop all over you, and all your bike gear stay off this trail. Nasty.
I took my two sisters (19 and 16) that are new to biking. We got on the trail at Wadhams road and headed out of town to the Northwest. The trail was nice, horse poop was at a minimum, people were nice and the trestle over the Pine River was amazing! It was the longest ride my sisters had ever been on and we had a blast. Arriving in Avoca there is a restroom and a party store. There is also a cafe, but I couldn't tell if it was open or not. All in all a great trail. Also, I rode a skinny tire road bike and I had no issues riding the trail.
We biked this trail in early spring, probably prettier when greener. Seems to get a lot of horse traffic, and they really chew it up, especially on the north end at Avoca. If I were going to ride it again I would start at Wadhams to begin and end with a smoother ride.
We started at the trail head in Avoca. We went south until we reached the portion of the trail that is asphalted and turned around. The trip was close to 15 miles. If you are looking for a ride to get a good cardio workout this is not the trail for you. The trail was so scenic we were stopping all the time to take pictures. The trestle is worth the trip to this trail in itself. Let alone the beautiful horses at the horse farms at the northern part of the trail. If the whole trailed was paved I would have rated it 5 star
The view from and of the trestle bridge is really something to see. The trail is very well maintained; a portion of it is asphalt. Kudos to the groups, organizations and families that work to maintain it! The total trail if you continue past Mill Pond is about 25 miles roundtrip. The trailheads are well marked and very easy to locate. The trail has a few facilities and several rest areas along the way. Avoca has a few restaurants/bars. Would most definitely do it again as I imagine it is just beautiful in the fall.
nice trail well kept
my 2 grandsons did the 20 miles with no problem
the longest they had done before was 12 miles
I ride the trail a lot. the only bad thing I see is no restrooms along the trail just at the parking areas. it's 12 miles long and should have couple port a johns along the way, there is benches why not port a johns by the benches.
it's great way to get from port huron to avoca to mill creek to do some kayaking and fishing.
Dusted off the bikes wanted an easy first ride. Went to Port Huron for a couple of days. Great time on the trail and in town found a Micro Brewery with fantastic food! can't wait to go back.
I used the Wadhams to Avoca for the first time on October 29, 2010. It is a very nice trail, very scenic & well kept for the most part. The limestone fines or whatever it is was generally very good. It was rather washboardy & rough in some areas. All things considered it was very enjoyable as it was a cool day & not much traffic. My biggest complaint is like that of most trails & most people, it is completely unbelieveable & unacceptable that I have to ride my brandnew bike, and people have to run & walk in all that horse manure!! There has got to be a way to keep the horses seperate from the other traffic. Or have them clean up after the horses or eliminate them all together. The manure was very heavy in certain areas & with the fallen leaves , it was just about impossible to miss.I know its not the horses fault, its the riders fault. Something needs to be changed to correct this problem and stop the cause for bad feelings between horse riders and the rest of that must tolerate this "in your face" primative practice.
It is a beautifull trail other than that.
My wife and I rode the Wadham-Avoca trail and found the following for you to add to your knowledge and preparation for use of this trail. First, the trail is a total of 12.5 miles long. From Avoca, the first 7.5 miles consists of packed ballast and crushed stone. The remaining five miles to the south is asphalt. Mile-markers start two miles south of Avoca at the old trestle. Going north from the trestle, the markers are "N-0.5", "N-1.0", "N-1.5" and "N-2.0". Going south from the trestle, the mile-markers start at "S-0.5" with the last one posted as "S-10.5". From the "S-10.5" mile-marker, the trail continues for another one-half mile and ends at Griswold Road. There are NO PARKING signs posted along the road at the Griswold Road trailhead, but if you go to MTD Collision Repair Service located 100 yards east of the trailhead, they will let you park your car in their lot.
Again, this is simply a report of what we noted on the trail, so the information following is an accurate and objective description of those findings as it applies to horses. The trail from the north trailhead to the "S-2.5" mile-marker is well maintained by the various individuals, groups and corporations who have adopted and care for those sections of the trail. Those people do a very good job keeping the trail manicured and clear of horse droppings. The south five miles of the trail which is paved is also mostly cleared of horse dropping with the exception of four horse dropping found on the asphalt during our ride on 6/23/2010. From the "S-2.5" mile-marker to the S-5.0 mile-marker, we counted 24 horse droppings which covered various areas of the eight-foot wide packed ballast trail, or about one every 1/10 of a mile (500 ft.). This same stretch of the trail has what appears to be horse barns and corrals adjacent to the trail.
Our personal observation is that this trail offers users a beautiful view of various flora and farms. Even so, the horse users of the trail might want to keep their horses to one side rather than ride down the center of the trail and allow the dropping to cover areas based on Newton's Second Law of Motion. Other than that, maybe the various caretakers of the trail can work something out with those horse owners who use the trail and ask that they provide increased consideration and respect for all trail users; walkers, joggers, and bikers. Certainly, having to ride with a constant eye on the ground ahead, prevents users from enjoying the surrounding views. In our experience, we have found that municipalities have resolved this problem by paving 3/4 of the trail width and leaving the remaining 1/4 of the width with packed dirt for the horses. We hope this helps everyone to make the trail enjoyable for ALL users.
A friend and I rode the W.T.A. last Monday, October 5, 2009 and found it to be a very pleasant experience – at least from Avoca to the Wadhams end of the trail. That way was downhill and with the prevailing westerly wind to our backs. The return leg was a bit more arduous – up hill and into the wind. We probably should have been more astute in studying the map to determine the general topography since we know the Black River flows into the St. Clair. Oh well, if we do it again, we’ll know better! Although the fall colors had not yet peaked, the scenery was enjoyable even though the day was overcast. The trestle bridge was really a treat. Kudos to those who built and maintain it!
Previous posters have commented on the relationship between cyclists and horses on this trail and I feel compelled to do the same. In particular, I would direct these comments to “The Eighth Day” who posted on July 6, 2009. By opting for a cathartic rant, you missed an opportunity to provide all cyclists with really valuable information. How, exactly, should a cyclist approach your “…thinking, independent animals that make decisions for themselves. (and) weigh half a ton with some of them a great deal more”?
Trail etiquette calls for a cyclist to signal with a bell or horn or calling out, “On your left,” when approaching a walker or a slower cyclist from the rear. How would your behemoth react to this? Is there any need to approach from the front in a particular way? I know I’m not alone when I say that I don’t want to tangle with an out-of-control horse, so educate me/us instead of excoriating all of us because of the behavior of one of us!
As a horseman, I'd like to remind bike riders that, unlike bikes, horses are thinking, independent animals that make decisions for themselves. Moreover, an average horse will weigh half a ton with some of them a great deal more. While you are riding, consider that the person riding the 1000 pound animal is easily spooked by discourteous, self-absorbed, fools on bikes. Fools that by racing by horses in childish fits of self-importance can spook a 1000 pound horse into throwing a young child off into the trees or onto the road surface. This type of event can result in death or serious injury to the horse rider.
Consider your behavior carefully around horses. Ask yourself if you want to spend the rest of your life thinking about how you cut your bike in front of a horse because you were irritated at some horse droppings and caused the horse to throw a child resulting in a broken neck. Ask yourself if you were REALLY that horribly inconvenienced and so put-upon by a horse turd that it justified your irresponsible...and now tragic...behavior.
Horses are serious business. What looks easy on television is actually quite difficult and requires training and seasoning. The horses you ride at the local stable that pony down the trail in a quiet line are not the same as the horses you see on the Avoca trail. Horsemanship builds confidence and courage in kids and adults too because it is a challenge and it requires moxie. Bike riding, in comparison, is effortless and of little real consequence. Save your irritation for something important and be careful of your behavior and actions around horses.
My wife and I visited the trail last Saturday October 11, 2008. We began at starting point of the trail (the lower east side) - we parked on a small gravel parking on Griswald Rd near the railroad track. We then rode our bikes to the bridge (approximately 11 miles). As indicatded in the description, about five miles is paved. Then, there is rough gravel (but nothing of serious concern, especially for mountain bikes) for about a mile and then packed small pea rocks. The paved section is a lot less crowded with very few people around. The gravel portion was visited by a few horseback riders - you will see a few horse reminders. The colors were just beatiful and the entire path is turning. The most beatiful part is the bridge with the trees in red, orange, and other fantastic fall colors. So, if you get a chance and before it gets too cold, visit the trail and enjoy the beatiful Michigan color.
"Very nice bike ride. I wish there was not so much horse excrement along the way. Seems disrespectful to leave such piles in the middle of the trail. Still, a beautiful bike ride. "
"This trail is getting better each year. Starting at the Speedy Q Party store in Wadhams, (they have built a large parking area) the trail starts out sand, but quickly turns to a new paved surface for several miles. The surface then changes to hard pack for the next 8 miles or so. The railroad tressel is worth the ride. Keep going to the small town of Avoca, stop in at the local party store for a break or bathrooms, and then head back for a total of 20 miles. Makes a great family ride or training run."
"I'd suggest that the first time anyone visits this trail that they casually walk northward toward the Mill Creek Trestle and not fail to notice the wild flowers, sumac, birds and sunning turtles in the trailside creek. I appreciate all of the labor that went into the trestle, making it a beautiful focal point of trail.
I walk daily and always look forward to an occasional stroll along this trail with my camera. I hope that other people love the view of the dense pines, rabbits and deer as much as I do and this is a great place to slow down and pay attention to the too-often overlooked things. My thanks!"
We rode this trail several times in the summer and fall and found it to be a good workout. What I appreciated was the fact that the trail provided restrooms.
"My husband and I did the whole ""9 yards"" today. It was a beautiful day. We think the trail should have a few benches along the way so people can rest and eat their lunches. There wren't any trash cans. We didn't see any trash, which indicates people are willing to ""trash out."" "
"The trail was originally proposed to include horseback riding. Us horseback riding nature lovers are now getting the cold shoulder from using this trail. The trail should be accessible to everybody!
-Donna Lindsay, St. Clair County resident and taxpayer"
"The trail is nice because it is not heavily traveled, however there is no good parking at the southern end. Starting from the southern end the first 2-3 miles are paved with asphalt, the next 2-3 miles have a gravel surface and the following 2-3 miles are surfaced with ballast, which was hard for me to get through with two kids. The final 1-2 miles into Avoca have a gravel surface."
"My wife and I rode most of the trail on July 5, 2004. We started at Lapeer Road near Dity Road. The section east toward Wadhams was great. It was paved, smooth and well cared for. The trail is mostly in the shade and easy to ride. On the return north of Lapeer Road. the same condition existed.
After the trail crosses McLain Road it is surfaced with packed limestone. This section is smooth and is also well maintained. After the trail crosses Rabidue Road the effects of the horses riding on the trail is more apparent. Not just the droppings, but the divots from the horse hooves make the ride much less pleasant.
After Cribbins Road the trail is gravel and MUCH harder to ride. We turned around at Faro Road because of the added difficulty, so I missed what is mentioned as a great feature of the trail, the trestle.
I know that the trail is in under constant improvement and trust that more of it will become paved, and the other improvements added. I noticed from the map that there are toilets and parking areas near the Avoca end, and I look forward to those features being added all the way. I think posting the names of the roads that the trail crosses would be another and easy way for us to keep better oriented. I will likely return to check out the other end of the trail. "
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