The 42-mile Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Rail Trail was completed in the spring of 2015. It gets its name from the three counties it spans on the former Central Michigan Railroad. The abandoned rail corridor was acquired by the state of Michigan in 2007 and developed by the DNR through a broad coalition of federal, state and local organizations .
Perfect for day rides of just about any distance, the trail goes through the center of several quaint farming towns where you will find easy access to local stores, eateries and ice cream shops. It also runs parallel to highway M-21, offering convenient access. The trail was developed with a new trailway design concept, where the "Town & Village Zones" are paved with asphalt and the "Rural and Natural Zones" are surfaced with finely screened and compacted limestone.
The trail officially begins at the Prairie Creek bridge east of Ionia and crosses over the Maple River east of Muir. It then travels through the heart of Michigan farm country before it crosses the headwaters of the Maple River in Ovid on its way to Owosso. A thick hedge of trees shelter the trail most of the way. At Smith Road, west of Owosso, a signed, designated bike route guides you into downtown Owosso. Trail planners envision future rail trail connections and extensions to downtown Owosso and east to Durand.
Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Rail Trail
The 17-mile Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Rail Trail is getting closer to completion. In 2015, 1.75 miles of paved trail was extended east from downtown Ionia to the Prairie Creek bridge, connecting with the Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee (CIS) Rail Trail. The project included construction of a beautiful new pedestrian bridge providing safe passage over busy M-66. The Michigan DNR is currently seeking funding to improve the 7-mile section of trail connecting Saranac with the city of Lowell.
The first 8.25 miles of trail from Saranac to Ionia was completed in 2013. This exceptionally scenic section of trail travels along the edge of the Grand River and through the Ionia State Recreation Area, with no road crossings, for a peaceful, serene commune with nature. It also includes an amazing five restored railroad bridges, including one towering bridge spanning 466 feet across the mighty Grand River. Trail users have reported a lot of wildlife sightings along this stretch of trail, including whitetail deer, turkey, great horned owls, eagles, a wide range of waterfowl, and even the rare pine marten.
The trail surface consists of about one mile of asphalt pavement through Saranac, and about 3.75 miles of pavement through the city ofIonia, with the rest of the trail in between surfaced with finely screened and compacted crushed limestone. Saranac and Ionia offer plenty of parking, stores and eating establishments. The Saranac Depot serves as the trailhead in Saranac and includes a nature trail, picnic area, and a historical museum, all situated beside the river. In downtown Ionia, public parking is available on Adams Street, one block east of the new M-66 bridge.