Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pere Marquette Rail Trail

The Pere Marquette Rail Trail starts in Midland, MI, which is a 3 hour drive from Kalamazoo. The section I rode was paved and had mown grass shoulders. It passed through several parks in Midland, then paralleled the Tittabawassee River for several miles northwest of town. A goldfinch flew among the wildflower plantings along the trail. In other areas bracken ferns and woods edged the trail. The Averill Preserve (pdf) offered a river overlook with information about the area's logging history. I had to turn back to Midland shortly past the Averill overlook but the trail continues to Clare (30 miles from Midland).

Overall, the Pere Marquette trail was much more polished than the KalHaven trail with smooth asphalt suitable for rollerblades. Like other rail trails, it was fairly flat and ran pretty much in a straight line. Concrete mileposts marked the distance every half mile. The trailhead at Midland offered drinking fountains, restrooms, and compressed air. The Pere Marquette trail was selected for the Rail Trail Hall of Fame.

A four mile extension, called the Chippewa Trail, links the Pere Marquette trail to the Chippewa Nature Center. The trails are connected by a Y-shaped bridge, known as the Tridge, in Midland. Both trails start at the Tridge, just outside Midland's downtown.

Dow Gardens are also worth seeing if you're in Midland.

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