North Central State Trail
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.
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: Trail Town Tavern, 6461 Old 27 South. Opens at 11:00 a.m. daily.
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 M-T-W 8 to 3, Th-F 8 to 9, Sun 8 to 8. 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. This is not far from the trail which now also connects to the North Eastern State Trail in this location 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
On The Pavement
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 Peanut 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 becoming Winnie Hill Rd Then 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.
Time: Approximately 90 minutes.
Riding around Otsego Lake is always fun! You can park at either the 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 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 Benjamin's 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.
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 distance. 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 distance 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.
Along with paved and unpaved trails for walking, biking and in-line skating are well suited for family adventures close to downtown. Don't forget to stop by the boundary shared with Elk Park to view the elk, sika and fallow deer herds. Trails are groomed in the winter for cross-country skiing and the entire park is lit until 11:00 p.m. year round.
239 Commerce Blvd., Gaylord, MI
On The Dirt
Aspen Park Single Track
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) 5 miles in a loop layout.
Pine Baron Pathway
If a short, family outing is what you're looking for, the Pine Baron Pathway, situated in the Mackinac State Forest, is only six miles from the heart of Gaylord. To reach it, take Otsego Lake Drive west to Old Alba Road, continue west to Lone Pine Road and go north to the trail head. This system of gently rolling to flat terrain has four short loops which average two miles each. The total outside loop is only 6.25 miles. There are several benches along the way for resting, as well as some nice clearings; perfect for a trail side picnic. All the trails are clearly marked and easy to follow through peaceful pine forests and mixed hardwoods. Wildlife abounds, so keep your eyes open for the natural inhabitants of the Pine Baron Pathway.
The Groen Nature Preserve
Activities include hiking, biking, equestrian, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing. This property contains Kujawa and Johannesburg Lakes, along with being the former home to both the Johannesburg Manufacturing Company as well as Echo Valley Resort. Over 11 miles of hiking trails wind throughout this property. Follow M-32 East to Gingell Rd., Turn left on Gingell. The entrance is located at the corner of Gingell and Waters Roads. 2043 Gingell Rd.
Click here for a more in depth look at Groen Nature Preserve.
Shingle Mill Pathway
If you would like just a taste of the High Country experience, check out the Shingle Mill Pathway. It is a popular trail system that begins at the Pigeon Bridge Campground, just off Sturgeon Valley Road, 11 miles east of Vanderbilt on Sturgeon Valley Road. The shortest of the five-segment pathway is 3/4 mile and the longest stretches for 12 miles. Trail difficulty increases with the length of each trail, with some steep terrain along the 6, 10 and 12 mile stretches. Located 11 miles east of Vanderbilt on Sturgeon Valley Road, in the Pigeon River Country State Forest.
Click here for a more in depth look at what to expect on Shingle Mill Pathway.
On The Snow
With over 140 inches of snowfall on average annually here, it is no wonder that Fat Biking has found its way here. With the wide tires and low air pressure, you can get traction on snow and loose ground. Which makes mountain bikers happy they can now ride year around!
Take to the trails on Treetops beautiful main property offering 5k of groomed Fat Tire Bike trails. Available when conditions permit on the trails, all winter long. See link at the top of this page to rent a Fat Tire Bike from Treetops. Treetops is located at 3962 Wilkinson Rd., Gaylord, MI Click here for the map.
Treetops hosts the Alpine Fat Bike Classic each winter. Stay tunned to our events page for details on when it will be this season.