With the completion of the 32-mile North Western State Trail, bicyclists can now ride from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan by trail.

The Carp Lake River Bridge in Emmet County was the final piece to complete the trail, which has been in the works since 1999 and connects Petoskey, Alanson, Pellston and Mackinaw City. Non-motorized users can enjoy the trail year-round, and it’s open to snowmobilers December 1 to March 31. A recreation passport is not required.

To make the cross-state, lake-to-lake trip, ride: Alpena to Cheboygan on the North Eastern State Trail, Cheboygan to Mackinaw City on the North Central State Trail, Mackinaw City to Petoskey on the North Western  State Trail, Petoskey to Charlevoix on the Little Traverse Wheelway.

The trail also offers bikers an opportunity to take day trips to small communities, local stores and restaurants such as Brutus Camp Deli and Carp Lake General Store. “Another highlight is the remoteness of the Carp Lake River Bridge, usually, there are great opportunities for wildlife viewing at this location,” says Emily Meyerson, the DNR’s Northern Lower Peninsula Trail Coordinator. “The Maple River Bridge is also beautiful.”

For a stunning mid-distance ride near the trail, connect with M-119 in Petoskey near Petoskey State Park to bike the Tunnel of Trees. The 16-mile scenic stretch of road begins in Harbor Springs and ends in Cross Village (total distance from Petoskey to Cross Village via M-119 is 30 miles).

Trail highlights: 

  • The trail starts on M-119 at Spring Lake Park in Petoskey. Parking, restrooms and a picnic area available.
  • Public parking behind the Alanson Township/Village Hall. Also a restroom.
  • Don’t miss Alanson’s Sanctuary Park at the end of East Street. A self-propelled ferry takes passengers to an island boardwalk. The village is working on future improvements to add restrooms at this location.
  • Village Park in Pellston also serves as a trailhead and has parking and a picnic area.
  • Littlefield Township is working on a trailhead in Oden. Currently has a drinking fountain and gazebo.
  • Between M-119 and Conway, watch for the overlook of Round Lake, interpretive signs and a Michigan Historic Marker.
  • Oden Fisheries Visitor Center serves as a trailhead. When the building is open, there’s access to bathrooms and water.

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North Western State Trail Mileage:

M-119 (Petoskey) to Alanson: 7.5 miles

  • M-119 to Conway: 2.5 miles
  • Conway to Oden: 2.3 miles
  • Oden to Alanson: 2.7 miles

Alanson to Pellston: 7.8 miles

  • Alanson to Brutus: 3.6 miles
  • Brutus to Pellston: 4.2 miles

Pellston to Mackinaw City: 16.7 miles

  • Pellston to Levering: 5.8 miles
  • Levering to Carp Lake: 4.1 miles
  • Carp Lake to Mackinaw City: 6.8 miles

View a map of the North Western State Trail.

Before hitting the trails, get your bike ready. Jason Snell, service leader at Latitude 45 Bicycles in Petoskey, takes us through a DIY bike tune up, from tires to gears.

More Northern Michigan Biking

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Photo(s) by Michigan Department Natural Resources