Great Lake to Lake Trail - Route 1

Explore 275 Miles of Michigan Trails,
Connected Across the Lower Peninsula
 New for 2022 

As Michigan’s network of non-motorized trails has grown over the past four decades, a vision emerged of an interconnected series of trail routes linking one Great Lake to another. The vision was first realized in 2011 when the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance (MTGA) convened a meeting among a wide range of trail advocates and government officials from around the state to focus on this intriguing idea. This meeting of the minds produced five potential routes, two in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and three in the Lower Peninsula – and created a name for this grand vision: The Great Lake-to-Lake Trails.

Kal-Haven Riders Route 1 of the Great Lake-to-Lake Trails was likely the most ambitious and challenging of the five interconnected trail routes, stretching 275 miles from South Haven to Port Huron. What made Route 1 a promising concept was that most of the interconnected trails were built on the remnants of the original Michigan Air Line Railroad. Built in 1883, the Michigan Air Line was one of Michigan’s first major railroads, running from Port Huron to Niles, Michigan. When most of the rail corridor was abandoned in 1975, several sections were acquired by the Michigan Departments of Transportation or Natural Resources, and other county and local governments, with the urging of “Friends” groups, for development as non-motorized recreational trails. Today, this major stretch of the Great Lake-to-Lake Trails Route 1 runs from Richmond (Macomb Orchard Trail) to Concord (Falling Waters Trail) near Jackson. From the west, Route 1 follows the Kal-Haven Trail State Park on the railbed of the former Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad from the Lake Michigan shoreline to Kalamazoo. It then continues east on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, the Battle Creek Linear Park and the Calhoun County Trailway.

Mike Levine Despite the development of so many non-motorized trails, several gaps remained in the Route 1 trail system. Over the past decade, MTGA has worked closely with local governments, the Michigan DNR and DOT to prioritize the completion of existing rail corridors and the development of connector trails and road routes to help close those gaps. This collaborative effort, led in part by philanthropist, Mike Levine, has made great strides in connecting these trails into one continuous trail route. Progress continues this year on closing some of these major gaps. In Jackson County, construction will begin this spring extending the Mike Levine Lakelands Trail to the Grand River ArtsWalk and the Falling Waters Trail in Jackson. Further east, another section of former rail corridor will be converted to rail trail, connecting the Huron Valley Trail to the Michigan Air Line Trail in Wixom. East of Hamburg, MDOT is finalizing plans to connect the Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park to the Green Oak Township Trail, along US-23, which connects to the Island Lake Pathway and the Huron Valley Trail.

Great Lake to Lake Trail Route 1

To plan your Route 1 adventure, visit GreatLakeToLakeTrails.org or GLTLTrail.com for information on lodging, camping, navigation and points of interest along the route.

The dream of a completed Great Lake-to-Lake Trail Route 1 began to take shape in 2019, as major rail trails were nearing completion and connecting road routes were established bridging the gaps. That same year, two retired navigational buoys were refurbished, repurposed as trail markers, and placed at each end of Route 1 in South Haven and Port Huron. To celebrate development of the trail route, MTGA hosted its Inaugural Great Lake-to-Lake Trail Ride in September of 2019. The seven-day tour included a “dipping of the tires” ceremony in Lake Michigan at South Haven, six overnight stays, and a final dipping of tires in Lake Huron at the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron.

Today, the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail Route 1 is one of America’s great destination trails, passing through 9 counties, 42 townships, 34 cities, towns and villages, and some of Michigan’s most scenic landscapes. If you can’t find time to ride the entire trail system in one trip, you can always ride it one trail section at a time. It’s a great way to explore the natural beauty of southern Michigan.

Michigander Bicylce Tour Better yet, this summer, you can join other trail riders to explore the entire Great Lake-to-Lake Trail Route 1. MTGA is teaming up with the League of Michigan Bicyclists to host the annual Michigander Bicycle Tour, July 26-31, which will follow Route 1 from South Haven to Port Huron. Named one of the “Top 10 Multi-Day Rides in America” by Bicycling Magazine, the Michigander is a fully supported ride with accommodations, delicious meals and plenty of local attractions and social events to keep you entertained along the way. To learn more about the Michigander, visit LMB.org/Tours. Have some fun, enjoy the scenery, and share your love of the trails with like-minded cyclists from all across Michigan and throughout the country.

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Trail Resources

Make your trail adventure more enjoyable. These providers offer goods, services, support and information.

Bicycle & Fitness Shops

TerraTrike

TerraTrike
4460 40th Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
(800) 945-9910 website

Trail Groups and Developers

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan Department of Natural Resources
525 W. Allegan Street
Lansing, MI 48909
website

Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance

Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance
PO Box 27187
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 485-6022 website

Trail Supporter

Great Lake-to-Lake Trail Route 1

Great Lake-to-Lake Trail Route 1


website

League of Michigan Bicyclists

League of Michigan Bicyclists
416 S. Cedar Street, Suite A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 334-9100 website

Meijer

Meijer
2350 3-Mile Road
Grand Rapids, MI 49544
website

Michigan Bicycle Law

Michigan Bicycle Law
3380 Pine Tree Road
Lansing, MI 48911
(866) 758-0031 website

Michigan Brewers Guild

Michigan Brewers Guild
225 W. Washtenaw, Suite C
Lansing, MI 48933
website

Michigan Trails Fund

Michigan Trails Fund
1213 Center Street, Suite D
Lansing, MI 48906
(517) 285-4096 website