The North Eastern State Trail extends for 70 miles along the former Detroit and Mackinac Railway. The trail provides a solitary experience as it takes you through wetlands, farmlands, forests, and small towns. Picnic tables are located frequently along the trail so visitors can take in the natural beauty of north eastern Michigan along the route.
The mile markers use the historic railroad numbering from the Detroit to Mackinac Railway. Mile marker number 125 is northwest of Alpena and number 194 is south of Cheboygan. PLEASE NOTE: At times, this rural trail has limited cell coverage. All non-motorized users (including horses) are allowed year-round, and snowmobiles from December 1 to March 31.
Camping: There is no equestrian camping available.
Length: 70 Miles
Type: Riding, Hiking, snowmobiling
Terrain: Farmlands, wetlands, rivers, forest, crushed limestone surface.
Not required for the trail, it is only needed if you use Aloha State Park for trail access.
Trailhead: If you are traveling the trail from the north, you will start at the Cheboygan trailhead (1-75, exit 322 toward Cheboygan) and travel southeast 33 miles towards Millersburg (half-way point trailhead) and then the remaining 38 miles to the southern trailhead in Alpena.
Trailheads and access points from south to north:
Symbols: P= Parking, R= Restrooms, W=Water, A= Amenities
Alpena to Posen – 17.6 miles
Alpena Trailhead (P,R,W,A): The Alpena Trailhead is on Woodward Street on the north side of Alpena. At the trailhead you’ll find parking, RV/trailer spaces, restrooms, water and a pavilion. It is the terminus of the North Eastern State Trail although it connects directly with the 18-mile Alpena Bi-Path, part of which will take you into downtown Alpena, about 2-3 miles.
This 17.6 mile trail segment runs through farm and forest lands to the Village of Posen. Along the way you pass former lumber towns of Cathro and Bolton. Look for a sinkhole north of Maple Lane Road.
Posen to Metz – 5.6 miles
Posen Trail Access (P,R): Just west of M-65 along Railroad Street, park between the road and trail near the Posen grain elevator. There is a sign and a porta-potty (available June 1 – September 30).
This 5.6 mile trail segment passes through mostly wild land with some cultivated farm areas. Bends in the trail and small grade changes make this section fun to ride.
Metz to Hawks – 4.3 miles
Metz Trailhead (P,R,W,A): Metz, a very small community, has a full service trailhead located on County Road 441 with parking, a pit toilet, water, playground, picnic pavilion and historic interpretive site about the 1908 Metz Fire.
From Metz to Hawks the 4.3 miles of trail continues to meander slightly in elevation going through more farmlands, wetlands and forest.
Hawks to Millersburg – 8.9 miles
Hawks Trail Access (P,R, W,A): The community of Hawks has a small trailside park along County Road 451 where there is limited parking. The park has water and a picnic shelter. There is a porta-potty available June 1 – September 30.
This 8.9 mile trail segment passes through scenic country including wetlands, hunting lands and the former Big Cut quarry before getting to the Village of Millersburg and its historic depot and park.
Millersburg to Onaway – 9.2 miles
Millersburg Trailhead (P,R,W,A): Located just east of County Road 638 in the Village of Millersburg. The depot is the last remaining depot on this trail and is a local history museum (hours are limited).
Just west of Millersburg the trail crosses the Ocqueoc River. The trail segment of 9.2 miles into Onaway crosses a number of rivers and wetlands with wonderful views. Just before the City of Onaway the trail crosses M-68.
Onaway to Tower – 3.6 miles
Onaway Trail Access (P): The trail crosses M-211 just north of M-68 in the City of Onaway.
The short segment continues through wetlands and forest lands before it crosses the Black River at Tower Pond. This is a beautiful location with the small Tower dam to the north of the bridge. Just west of the bridge is the Tower Trailhead.
Tower to Aloha – 14 miles
Tower Trailhead (P,R): Tower Trailhead (currently unmarked) has parking and pit toilet. It is located off Barclay Avenue north of M-68.
This 14-mile segment of trail is remote and beautiful. It runs along and across sections of Kleber Pond (part of the Black River) and its tributaries. After Kleber Road (the dam is just north of the trail crossing) the trail runs through nine miles of remote State forest lands (primarily hardwood forest). There are occasional creek crossings with wetlands and beaver ponds. Eventually the trail crosses Mann Road and then M-33 before it enters into Aloha State Park.
Aloha State Park to Cheboygan – 7.8 miles
Aloha Trail Access (P,R,W,A): The Aloha State Park serves as the trail access (recreation passport required). This 7.8-mile segment of trail runs along the east side of Mullett Lake or behind the resort communities along the lake. There are outstanding views. The trail crosses the Cheboygan River on an historic trestle bridge. The trail then crosses US-27 and heads north through farmland into the City of Cheboygan. The North Eastern State Trail ends where it merges with the North Central State Trail just south of W Lincoln Ave. The Cheboygan Trailhead, located just north of W Lincoln, serves both trails.
Cheboygan Trailhead (P,R,W,A): The Cheboygan Trailhead is located between Lincoln Avenue and Taylor Streets just east of S Western Avenue. It has parking as well as trailer/RV spaces, restroom, water and a pavilion.
From Cheboygan you can continue northeast on the North Central State Trail to Mackinaw City or south on the NCST to Indian River and Gaylord.
Shortcut to North Central State Trail
You can reach the North Central State Trail without going into Cheboygan by taking Riggsville Road west about a mile south of the Cheboygan Trailhead. Riggsville Road is paved but is often quite busy with traffic.
Shortcut to Petoskey to Mackinaw City Trail
You can reach the North Western State Trail without going into Mackinaw City by following this route: A mile south of Mill Creek State Park take Hebron Mail Road south to Potter Road. Follow Potter as it goes over I-75 and crosses US 31 where it becomes Linsley Road. From there it is a short distance to the trail. Go left to Petoskey or right to Mackinaw City.
There are also excellent chances for “loop” rides through fairly remote country on local roads from several points along the way.