If a trip on the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail leaves you in love with this route, you are not alone. The Pere Marquette is one of the most heavily used trails in Michigan (the section between Midland and Clare), according to a 2002 Michigan State University study. The serene, paved corridor welcomes all non-motorized users, including equestrians on an adjacent path for approximately 5 miles between State Route 18 and Coleman Road. There are numerous access points along the trail, as well as benches for trail users to rest and take in the beautiful scenery of maple and pine trees.
Officially, the 30-mile section between Midland's famous Tridge and Clare is known as the Pere Marquette Rail Trail (a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame Trail), while the section between Baldwin and Clare is known as the Pere Marquette State Trail. The latter is not entirely paved but the two trails can be joined into one via a 2-mile-or-so on-road portion (using bike lanes) in Clare.
For the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail portion, kick off your trip in downtown Midland at the Tridge, a unique three-way bridge located at the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Chippewa rivers. The Chippewa Trail extends west from the Tridge, traveling 4 miles to the Chippewa Nature Center. Go north to instead follow the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail all the way to Clare.
The trail is a haven for deer, chipmunks and an assortment of bird species. There are cultural attractions to be had from the very start. Just off the trail in Midland is the Dow Historical Museum, where you can find information and displays concerning the pioneering chemical experiments of Herbert H. Dow. Another interesting cultural attraction, located just off the trail, is the Bradley House. This restored 1874 home offers visitors a glimpse into the everyday life of an early Midland family.