Grab your bike, skis or hiking shoes and get ready to explore the Cadillac Pathway. After a day full of skiing, hiking or biking in Cadillac, MI,  swing by the new pavilion for a bonfire to warm up.

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The first thing you notice when you get to the Cadillac Pathway trailhead— a packed dirt trail on the outskirts of Cadillac—is the striking new pavilion and its bright red steel roof. Once you park, you notice something else just as inviting: the towering stone fireplace under the pavilion with a stack of firewood at the ready. The new pavilion is a welcome and hearty addition to Cadillac’s well-loved bike-hike-and-ski trail. It opened in September 2020 after much planning and fund-raising, and it offers a beautiful and wide warm-up and meet-up spot for outdoor lovers, especially mountain bikers.

But behind it, there’s someone still casually stealing the show: Mother Nature.

Biking in Cadillac Michigan in the fall

Photo by Kandace Chapple

Related Read from Our Friends at 910 News: New Bike Shop Coming to Downtown Cadillac.

Hit the Trails in Cadillac

The 11.3-mile non-motorized Cadillac Pathway trail system features six different loops ranging from easy to difficult, all accessed from the new trailhead, complete with a parking area and pavilion. The one-, two- and four-mile loops near the pavilion are relatively flat and popular choices.

Previously, the pathway’s trails were accessed by parking at the local school, but the new trailhead and parking area give riders a dedicated place to gather. The trails starting from the pavilion allow access to the northern segments of the pathway, which are more moderate and great for beginners and families. Going farther into the heart of the pathway takes you onto harder trails, so be ready for more of a challenge. The trails are marked with signage throughout, although be aware of the offshoots of the unmarked single track so you don’t take a wrong turn.

In the summer, biking and hiking are permitted on the trail, and in the winter, the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing. If there’s at least 6 inches of the white stuff (and there usually is!), there is an additional trail rolled at the Pathway—the Winter Sports Trail for fat-tire bikes and snowshoers. These are all two-way trails, so an out-and-back is a great option if you are new to the loops.

The day my teenage son and I tackled the Pathway, it was late October and the tail-end of fall. The leaves had finished their first show and were on to their next—gathering in an endless swath of orange and browns on the ground above the crunch of fallen red pine needles.

We biked the full outer loop and the trail had its moments (as did we). It was smooth and welcoming one minute, and rowdy and rough the next. The hard-pack trail had wicked rocky downhills in a few spots, as well as gorgeous riding sailing through tall pines and maples. (And don’t be ashamed if you find yourself walking your bike up a few of the climbs either, ahem.) Also, be sure to watch for hikers sharing the trail and the occasional happy golden retriever.

Biking in Cadillac Michigan in the fall

Photo by Kandace Chapple

Cadillac’s Bear Claw Epic Mountain Bike Race

This trail hosts the Bear Claw Epic Mountain Bike Race every September (this year’s race is slated for Sept. 25). If you’re looking for a destination race, this might be the one. The race is fairly new and maintains that feel-good, small-town charm. There are several options, though, so the hot rods can go out hard, leaving room for beginners or those who just want to accomplish a new race at a fun pace. Kids are welcome, too! All proceeds from the race go toward funding the construction of 11 miles of new single-track on the Cadillac Pathway. 

Biking in Cadillac Michigan in the fall

Photo by Kandace Chapple

How to Get to the Cadillac Pathway

To access the Cadillac Pathway trailhead (3736 S. Seeley Rd., Cadillac), head to the intersection of Seeley and Boon roads, just five miles northeast of downtown Cadillac. Head east on Boon Road off Mitchell Street. Go 3.5 miles until the road hits a T, turn left and the lot is on your right. You can’t miss it—the new, bright red roof beckons! For a detailed map of the pathway, check out the Cadillac Pathway’s official website.

A recreation passport is required to access the trailhead and can be purchased at Mitchell State Park or online at Visit for more details, and jump on their Cadillac Pathway Facebook page for current pics and conditions.

Biking in Cadillac Michigan in the fall

Photo by Kandace Chapple

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Photo(s) by Kandace Chapple