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Biking the North Central State Trail

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This former railroad line that was refurbished and improved with a crushed limestone surface is a haven for bikers, runners and walkers of all ages. The view along the trail showcases some of the prettiest landscapes in the North. Farms, forest and open fields share the scene with sparkling lakes, rivers and marshes buzzing with wildlife.

Whether you’re a hiker looking for a daylong challenge, a family out for an afternoon ride, or a trail novice seeking something energizing but not too over-the-top, this trail delivers.

Routes from one town to the next and back are great short rides – most are 20 miles or less. Do just one hamlet-to-hamlet jaunt, or combine several for a longer adventure. Just keep in mind that the trail is primarily downhill between Gaylord and Indian River, with a net elevation loss of a very gradual 777 feet.

Fun Half-Day Excursions

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Click here for maps and complete trail information for Gaylord and the surrounding area.

Be sure and check out Gaylord's newest Bike Shop Alpine Bicycle Service & Sales located on South Otsego Avenue.

Gaylord To Vanderbilt:
7.6 miles, round-trip 15.6. Expect open farmlands and two tunnels. Once you arrive in Vanderbilt, fuel up at the Elkhorn Grill, 8294 Mill St. Open seven days a week, this restaurant is known for its great burgers, pizza and spirits. Breakfast is served 7:00 a.m. to noon. Another great spot: Rascal Jakks, 6461 Old 27 South. Hours: noon to 11:00 p.m., Wednesday – Sunday.

Vanderbilt to Wolverine:
10.9 miles, 21.8 round-trip. A gorgeous section of trail, this stretch has four miles with no road access as you pass through Stewart’s Creek Marsh. Pause to take in the wildlife and hear multiple birdcalls. This section of trail also crosses the Sturgeon River twice and the west branch of the Sturgeon near Wolverine. You’ll arrive in Wolverine at the local riverside park. Keep going up the hill to the Whistle Stop, 4853 Webb Road, on the east side of the expressway and across the street from Shultz’s Party Store. Enjoy a full menu, though we recommend one of their delicious sub sandwiches. Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.  231-525-9188

Wolverine To Indian River:
9.6 miles, 19.2 miles round-trip. This section of the trail runs parallel to the Sturgeon River, with a nice rustic campground two miles north of Wolverine – Haakwood State Forest Campground – if you’re interested in an overnight stop. Another mile north of the campground you’ll find the Rondo Canoe Access site, where the trail crosses the river. Stop here for a scenic picnic spot, even a swim in the river.

Spend some time in Indian River, which is home to Burt Lake State Park, which is not far from the trail (a planned trail connector is in the works) and features a modern campground and beach. Local public shoreline Devoe Beach on Burt Lake also isn’t far off the trail Stop for ice cream at Dairy Mart, 3448 S. Straits Highway, across from the trailhead and the local Chamber of Commerce building. A nearby canoe livery, Big Bear Adventures, offers bike shuttle service. 231-238-8181.

North Central State Trail Map

Bicycle Tours - Paved

Northeast Route
Time: Approximately 2 - 2.5 hrs.
This route is a part of the former Starker Mann biathlon and includes great scenery! It covers rolling farmland, plenty of trees, crosses the Sturgeon River it has a couple of good climbs and the potential to see a lot of wildlife!  You will want to park at the Soccer Fields off of North Ohio street (also the start of the North Central State Trail which also goes all the way to Mackinaw City) and head north on Morgan Road. It will wind around to the right after a long downhill and cross Old-27 North.  Cross Old-27 North on to Whitmarsh Road and head due East on Whitmarsh Road. This is a nice flat area and the farther East you go the better chances are of seeing Elk and Deer; you will also cross the Sturgeon River. You will bear right on Winnie Hill Road, this will pass the Smith Golf Course and you will begin a long climb through the woods. This road will eventually wind around and turn into Marquardt Road and you will pass Treetops North. You will enjoy a nice long descent, and some gorgeous farm country and gentle streams. Continue on Marquardt Road at the intersection with Sparr Road. At the top of a long climb you will take a big turn to the right and the road becomes Wilkinson Road and go past the main entrance of Treetops (at this point you are 4.5 miles from town). Stay on Wilkinson Road until it takes you to M-32, turn right and you will be headed back into town. This is a hilly challenging 26 mile route with plenty of scenery.

Lake Route
Time: Approximately 90 minutes.
Riding around Otsego Lake is always fun! You can park at either the Marsh Ridge Resort Parking Lot, Otsego Lake State Park parking lot or Otsego County Park parking lot. This is very enjoyable circular route around the largest lake in the County, Otsego Lake. It is very scenic with plenty of places to view Otsego Lake and it is also slightly hilly in some spots. You will have plenty of chances to stop on this route which is about 18 miles. If starting out at Marsh Ridge or the State Park head South on Old-27 to Mancelona Road. You will then turn on West Otsego Lake Drive heading north on a fairly newly paved road with nice wide shoulders. It is a bit hilly on this side and you will also pass Beaver Creek Resort.  This eventually takes a big wind right and remains West Otsego Lake Drive. This brings you right back to Old-27 South where you will turn right and back to your starting point.

East Route
Time: Approximately half-day.
If you are looking for a really long relaxing ride with an opportunity to stop for a meal or something to drink and also looking to get way out of town and see some great scenery take this route! This route also borders the Pigeon River State Forest so wildlife abounds. You can start in town and head East on M-32 take a slight left onto Wilkinson Road heading East. After passing Treetops and at the top of a big curve stay to the right on Wilkinson Road; this winds up and down past some gorgeous farmland. Stay on Wilkinson for a long time until it eventually takes a hard left turn and brings you to the Sparr Road intersection. Turn Right on Sparr Road and go for a long way. It is very scenic!! You will come to an intersection of Meridian Line Road, turn right. This is a long beautiful uphill climb!! On the right you will see Heatherton Road, when you get to Heatherton Road turn right and it will bring you right into the quaint little community of Johannesburg.  A great stop for lunch or late breakfast is either The Old Depot Restaurant or Paul’s Pub! When finished turn onto M-32 heading South for a short ways until you come to huge turn and you take a right onto Finnegan Road heading West, this eventually intersects at Turtle Lake Road where you stay right heading North. At the corner of McCoy and M-32 take a left on McCoy road which heads West. It if beautifully paved with a wide shoulder and will eventually pass the beautiful and scenic Dixon Lake with a great public access site. Stay on McCoy to Krys Road turning right and then to M-32. Taking a left on m-32 you will come right back into downtown Gaylord. It is approximately 40-45 mile route with plenty of scenery and gorgeous farmland.

Aspen Park

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Aspen Park Dirt Trail

Featuring 100 acres of woods, paved and unpaved trails, tennis courts and some of the best scenery in Northern Michigan. 

Aspen Park Single Track - If mountain biking is more to your liking then that too can be done in Aspen Park on one of the "dirt" trails developed in cooperation with the Northern Mid-Michigan Chapter of Michigan Mountain Biking Association (NMBA) 


Mountain Bike Trail Specs

Length Approx. 7 miles
Trail Type Singletrack
Layout Loop