Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail


22 Reviews

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Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail Facts

States: Michigan
Counties: Clinton, Ionia, Shiawassee
Length: 41.4 miles
Trail end points: Prairie Creek (Ionia) and W. Main Street (Owosso)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6254379

Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail Description

Closure Notice: As of September 26th, 2023, the entire trail is open with one fallen tree near Owosso that requires caution to go around. Please see the Fred Meijer Clinton Ionia Shiawassee Trail Facebook Page for more current updates.

The Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee (CIS) Rail Trail stretches 41 miles between the mid-Michigan towns of Ionia and Owosso, offering a mix of pastoral and wooded landscapes. It crosses three counties and also passes through St. Johns, Ovid, Fowler, Pewamo, and Muir; the trail is paved in the towns and crushed limestone in between.

As it traces the path of the former Central Michigan Railroad, the rail-trail crosses nine trestles and has a replica train station as a trailhead in Pewamo. And, just off the trail in St. Johns, the Clinton Northern Railway Museum, housed in a restored 1920 depot, offers visitors the chance to explore old railcars, view railroad artifacts, and operate model trains.

The trail is part of a regional 125-mile trail network named after Fred Meijer, the grocery magnate and philanthropist who supported the development of the trails. In Ionia, the CIS Trail connects to the Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Rail Trail, which continues 16 miles west to Lowell. In Lowell, one could get on the Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Trail to travel north 22 miles to Greenville, and, from Greenville, continue the journey north and east 41 miles to Alma on the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail.


Parking and Trail Access

Parking and restrooms are available at the Pewamo Trailhead Welcome Center located in Pewamo at the intersection of Main and Higham streets. Another nice trail stop is the Clinton Northern Railway Museum (107 E. Railroad Street) in St. Johns.  St Johns has a grant and should be building a facility this year but parking, restrooms and water are available in Muir, Fowler and Ovid.

Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail Reviews

Ionia to Pewoma

We rode today from Ionia to Pewoma. The trail was cleared from the trees that were down in August. It was a beautiful ride with the leaves starting to fall. About 22 miles out and back!

8/25/2023 - trees across path

Two huge trees are down across path approximately 0.4 miles from Smith Road in Owosso, Mi. No obvious way around them.

Ionia to St. John’s - Ok

My focus for this review is the condition of the trail from Ionia to St. John’s, and not about parking lots, towns, or bathrooms. The trail is mostly wooded and shaded, but there are too many soft, sandy spots that make riding a touring bike (Salsa Vaya) difficult, even with a 38mm tore up front and a 35mm in back. It’s hard to see the soft spots until you’re in them and your handlebar gets forcibly turned45 degrees and you almost go down. The trail would be so much better and used much e if it were paved.

Ionia to Owosso - out & back

My wife and I rode the entire trail (87 miles out and back from Ionia to Owosso) in June 2022. Trail was in great condition. Nice "train stations" in several towns for water and bathroom stops. Stopped at a nice brewery in St. Johns for lunch on the way back. Really like this trail! None of the trail was "sketchy" and no where near Vermontville (responding to another review).


Vermontville to Nashville - TERRIBLE!

Trailhead start of the trail in vermontville is a rough area of town with no parking. Next 'parking' on the map was Maple Valley High School, and the trail between there and Nashville is unrideable. It's not maintained, low branches, ruts, sticks, and at points branches completely block the path. We rode on the paved road instead... Hopefully this trail is much nicer in other segments.

Fred Meijer CIS Rail Trail

From Owosso to Ionia it’s a great riding trail. Love the mix of shade, sun, wild life. The small towns along the way offer pit stops (Trail heads) for food, water and restrooms. Very surprised it’s not busier, also kinda glad! More connections to come to other trails will be added bonus.

Fun ride -good work out

My husband and I rode this June 23,2021. Started in Owosso-no trailhead here, had to park behind Budget Tire ! Rode almost to St Johns, trail is nicely packed limestone and is in good shape. I rode a road bike and did just fine! Very flat and shady in spots ! Enjoyed it !! 28 miles

Owasso to Ionia - out and back

My wife and I rode this trail in September of 2020. I totally enjoyed it! Perfect for a Gravel, Cross, or Mountain Bike. Rideable on a road bike... though probably not comfortable. The surface is still a little soft in some areas, so anything with larger tires would be ideal. It's straight as an arrow, but plenty to see on either side. The best scenery I thought was between St. Johns and Ionia. The trail is paved through the towns... where there's opportunity to stop for water/snacks/food. We had lunch in Ionia at a cafe downtown. We parked where the trail crosses Smith Road just outside of Owasso. There's a paved parking lot behind Budget Tire and the EMS building.

Excellent running/biking/walking trail across Mid-Michigan!

I've been a user of the Fred Meijer M-21 trail since before it was restored to a trail. I've enjoyed walking, running, and biking it.

I would say for the most part, the route gets more and more intersting the further west you go. Though it's pretty neat running through the towns of Ovid, St. Johns, and Fowler, there isn't much inbetween other than cornfields. The west side of Ovid has some nice ponds and turns to the trail. However, you are a ways off the road M21, the paths surrounded by trees on both sides, and beyond that are more cornfields.

The scenery doesn't change much untill you hit Pewamo. From Pewamo to Saranac, the trail has numerous bridges over water and M21, some of which are very large and impressive. The trail is built above the river below, which makes for more to see and experience.

Unfortunatly, since many of these towns are distanced from each other, it's very likely you can go 7-8 miles without seeing anyone else on the trail. The only stretches paved are for a mile east and west out of each town. The soft gravel/sand is great for running, but will slow down mountain bikes, and be nearly impossible for bikes with skinny tires.

It would be great if it one day the whole thing was paved. I would love to see it exended further west to connect with trails in Ada and Grand Rapids. Another opportunity would be to extend it further east to Flint and those trails. Additionally, theres another opportunity to extend it north from St. Johns to Ithaca, to connect with the Highway 27 Trails.

103 Mile cyclocross.

I biked the entirety of the improved portion of this trail yesterday 10/9/19.
I started in Ovid, where there was parking by the trail but no public restrooms and headed west. As anticipated, the trail was improved and very nice until Smith Road just west of Owasso (about 7.5 miles). Past Smith Road, the trail was overgrown with grass 2-3 ft tall and trees growing across--impassable without a machete. I turned around there and rode all the way through Saranac, where the trail ended at mile marker 133. Past there, the trail had original railroad ballast with large stones, not passable even with a mountain bike. I then turned back and returned to my car in Ovid. The most beautiful part of the trail was West of Pewamo, as it was along the Grand River valley. East of Pewamo to Owasso, it is primarily farm land sheltered by a line of trees in most places. There is parking and restrooms along the trail in St. Johns, Fowler, Pewamo, Muir, Ionia and Saranac. The trail was beautifully, newly paved asphalt within all of the towns, and hard-packed crushed limestone in between. It was perfect for a cyclocross bike or mountain bike and most likely entirely passable with a road bike (some rare soft spots in the crushed stone could be difficult). I will definitely ride this again. 51.5 miles of improved trail total, for a round tip distance of 103 miles.

Great Trail

Rode 50 mile on the Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail. I started in Ovid and turned around in Pewamo. The trail had about 1-2 miles paved through Ovid, St. John, Fowler, and Pewamo the remained of the trail was gravel, crushed lime stone. The trail condition was good and overall smooth without a lot of pot holes and ruts. Even with the overall good condition of the trail the 40 plus miles of gravel was pretty punishing by the end of the ride. One small area outside of Ovid appeared to have very little gravel coverage and may present a problem when wet...potential muddy area. The weather was great for a ride the scenery was great the trail was pretty much through farm lands lots of fields of corn and wheat with old barns and farm houses along the way. My bike was a gravel bike with 38mm tires.

Self Proclaimed Property Enforcer

I’ve walked, ran and rode this trail since mid nineties, and before it was widened, grated and crushed limestone base added. Never had a problem with adjacent property owners until recently. There’s a “home caretaker “ about a quarter mile east of Lowell road, south side (pond berm butts up against rail trail, windmill clearly visible) that likes to stand out there at his “post” and ensure neither you nor your dogs land a foot off the limestone and onto “his land”. I’m aware that this same kid has had run-ins with DNR and deer hunters exercising their right to hunt on buffers. Other than that, I’ve had no problems, and enjoy my time out there.

Ovid to Saranac!

I was ready to abandon gravel-surfaced trails after riding from Ovid through St. Johns to Fowler. In this section it is all farmland (although picturesque farmhouses and fields), very little tree canopy, the surface is sometimes rough, you rarely see another rider, and you can hear M21 the whole way.

And THEN I discovered what happens once you hit Pewamo and west to Saranac. The trail completely changes into wooded forest/wetland/river views, lots of bridges over rivers and streams, and even the gravel surface gets more uniform, perhaps because of higher traffic.

I WILL say that St. Johns, Fowler, and Pewamo, have newly-restored depots with beautiful facilities. Someone has spent a lot of money, and I couldn't help but think how much more they'd be used if these trails were paved. It would increase usage twenty fold. Even tiny Muir has a lovely park along the trail, as did Saranac and Ionia.

Very good trail!

I rode the Pewamo-Muir-Ionia section of the trail and really enjoyed it. The scenery is great, and the trail is in good shape. The paved sections are a nice break from the crushed stone, which my cyclocross tires handled with ease. Road tires may get slowed down some, but the trail is very packed down and I would certainly not discourage road bikes. There were some spots with debris (sticks, leaves, potholes, occasional rock) on the trail, but that is to be expected and they are easily avoided on such a wide trail. I was surprised at how sparsely used this trail is, I only encountered a handful of people on a beautiful Saturday in mid-August when I expected it to be more crowded. In response to earlier comments, I also did not see any signs of horses on this stretch of trail, and in fact there was one sign between Muir and Ionia that said "No horses allowed".

Nice walking trail

I have walked several sections of this trail mostly in the owosso, Ovid, and St. Johns area. It is a great easy to walk beautiful trail. Well maintained, peaceful, and very easy to take a 2-3 mile walk on any evening. Only suggestions I have are maps at road crossings so you know where on the trail you are, and some parking access some day would be nice as well..but for an infant beginner just getting started trail it is amazing! great job to those who made this.

Great addition to trails

Today my wife and I finished the CIS trail. We worked from east to west in segments. I would definitely agree that the western end is much more scenic. Our favorite area was from Pewamo to the west, especially Muir to Ionia where you ride along the Grand River. The railroad bridge just west of Ionia is beautiful. More paved sections would be nice, but at this point the crushed limestone is very well packed. We're definitely looking to continue riding on the other Fred Meijer trails.

Peaceful, Scenic Ride

A good place to begin is at the Pewamo welcome center. East of Pewamo the trail follows M-21 through farm fields to Owosso. West of Pewamo is much more scenic as you ride through woods, wetlands, and next to and over rivers.

Yesterday we decided to to take the western section, about 20 miles roundtrip, starting at Pewamo. From Pewamo the trail is paved until crossing M-21. From there it is well-maintained crushed rock traveling next to Stoney Creek. As you approach Muir you cross over Stoney Creek and the Maple River. At the Maple River you have a mile and a quarter of paved trail through Muir.

From Muir west the trail is not as much used or as well maintained. It is scenic going through forest with the Grand River to the south. At Prairie Creek, just east of Ionia, the trail abruptly ends with no signage to indicate you have reached the current end. At that point one can turn around and return along the same trail or take a short connector road to M-21 and continue into Ionia.

Overall, we enjoyed the peaceful scenery and would recommend it to others. Incidentally, an earlier rider complained of horses on the trail. We saw no evidence of horses having been present recently.

Nice ride

Rode from Owosso to Shepardsville. Trail very smooth and firm. Nice mixture of sun and shaded areas. Lack of trailhead parking in Owosso and lack of drinking fountain, restrooms, bring grade down. Trail is fairly new, and hopefully these amenities are planned in the future. I would like to see Shiawassee government officials support and promote the trail more. This can and should be a valuable asset to a county that is in desperate need of more recreational opportunities of this type. It seems Clinton and Ionia counties are much more involved.
All in all, a very nice ride.

A pleasant ride

We rode 16 miles round trip today, starting at the trail head outside of Owosso. We parked at the fire station. This is a nice trail that has trees on both sides, which provides shade, depending on the time of day. We enjoyed the ride.

If there was something I would suggest as an improvement, it would be a bit more limestone to solidify the surface a little more. It's not bad, however. I rode a hybrid and didn't have any trouble.

Owosso To St. John's

This trail was very disappointing. First it was almost impossible to find the beginning in Owosso. We rode from Owosso to Ovid. Than from Ovid to St. John's. The trail is very difficult to ride. It is covered in sand. We both had mountain bikes and it was no easy task. Would NOT recommend a road bike attempts this trail. Not much to see. I would not recommend or return to this trail.

Horses should be restricted

I would give this trail five stars for walking and for scenery but for biking not right now. I rode the trail from Pewamo toward Ionia last week on my bike and was very disappointed that horse's hooves had created a series of pits along the entire length and most of the width. There was no way to avoid riding across them and it made for a very bumpy and uncomfortable ride. I had ridden it last fall as well at which time it was really good. The scenery is beautiful with lots of trees and the river running along side. There are also several nice bridges. I should add, though, that there were several small, dead trees partially across the trail toward the Ionia end. I wasn't paying close attention and ended up crashing into one. Luckily I was going slow due to the hoof pits so only suffered minor injuries. One last you approach Ionia, there is an old railroad bridge that, for safety's sake, should be blocked off. It's dangerous to cross and the trail on the other side is unimproved so not good for biking anyway. Hopefully these issues will be addressed quickly as summer is approaching and more people will be using the trail.

St. Johns to Ovid

We walked over 9 miles from the St. Johns Depot by the library to the Main bar in Ovid. Took a break in a side woods half way through for a nap in a hammock. Heard coyotes along the trail at one point. Overall nice experience because there are no motorized vehicles and well marked streets to cross that aren't busy. There were a few bridges and you walk under US127. Very straight and tree lined but you aren't really walking through any woods.

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