Saginaw Valley Rail Trail
SVRT Trail Guide (Printable)
The Saginaw Valley Rail Trail is one of Saginaw Counties gems, stretching 11 miles from St. Charles to Saginaw. It incorporates a number of natural features including: seven bridges over various rivers and creeks, The Shiawassee State Game Area and many wetland areas. The Rail Trail also offers an equestrian trail, trail shelters, restroom facilities at the Van Wormer parking lot, viewing platforms and benches.
Designed for various recreational uses, the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail provides:
- Safe, quiet places for hiking, bicycling, jogging, walking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and nature study.
- Safe, handicap accessible transportation for all ages.
- A linear, county park open to the public all year.
- A unique way of experiencing the landscape, without using fossil fuel or endangering the environment.
- Economic benefits as a tourist destination.
- Preservation of transportation corridors.
- Shelter for wildlife
- Protection for rare plants
- A sense of history, with old railroad relics and memories
There are three parking facilities for the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail. These areas are located on Stroebel Rd. and Van Wormer Rd. in James Township and at Lumberjack Park on Water St. in St. Charles.
6225 Stroebel Road
Travel M-46 to Center Rd. Turn South (left on to Center Rd). Take Stroebel Road right (west) just after you cross the Tittabawassee River. The parking lot will be on your right (south) a few miles down.
2998 Van Wormer
Travel M-52 to Swan Creek Rd. Turn East. Travel Swan Creek Rd until you see a yellow blinking light over the road (the light warns you of the trail crossing the road). Turn North (left) on to Van Wormer Rd. and then Turn West (left) into the parking lot
Travel M-46 to Center Rd. Turn South (left) on to Center Rd. Center Rd will curve to the west turning into Swan Creek Rd. Follow Swan Creek Rd to Van Wormer Rd. Turn North (right) on Van Wormer Rd. then turn West (left) into the parking lot.
401 East Water Street
From the North:
Travel M-52 (South) through the Village of St. Charles. At Water St. turn left. (if you make it to the stop light you have gone to far) Follow Water St. the parking lot is on the left hand side of the road.
From the South:
Travel M-52 (North) to the Village of St. Charles. At the stop light turn left to follow M-52 then turn right on to Water St. Follow Water St. the parking lot is on the left hand side of the road.
The Saginaw Valley Rail Trail covers 9.55 miles of abandoned rail corridor in Saginaw County, stretching from Lumberjack Park in St. Charles to Stroebel Road in James Township. The rail trail itself was the brainchild of Saginaw County resident Jim Garrett who rode horses on the abandoned railroad in the 1980's. He felt the quiet, scenic, and safe rail bed was a recreational path waiting to happen. Garrett jumped in, studied rails to trails projects, and learned not to take no for an answer. After 15 years of planning and patience, the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail has become a reality. "A rail trail involves a good amount of coordination among many parties," commented John Schmude, Director of the Saginaw County Parks Department which owns the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail. "In our case, we had to purchase the property from two different entities to begin with. After that we worked with grant sources, advisory committees, local governmental units, adjacent property owners, and other supporting groups to secure funding and develop a plan for our rail trail," added John. Now that feet and wheels have hit the path, nearly everyone would agree that it has all been worthwhile.
Funding for the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail has come from several public and private sources. Saginaw County has received two grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and two from the Michigan Department of Transportation. Locally, several foundations have supported the trail. The biggest supporters of the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail are the Friends of the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail, an official non-profit organization formed as an offshoot of the original advisory committee of the Saginaw County Parks Department. Initially, many of the approximately 200 landowners who have property adjacent to the trail were not ready to endorse the project. "Many of them had the misconception that rail trails serve as paths for vandalism, loitering, and mugging," explained Rob Eggers of Spicer Group, designer of the project. "We held three separate public meetings to describe our plans and then offered to meet individually with any landowner who had specific concerns."
The Saginaw Valley Rail Trail boasts three trailheads with that provide parking access to the trail. The Van Wormer Trail head on the corner of Van Wormer and Swan Creek Roads in Swan Creek Township also includes modern restrooms, picnic tables, pop machines, a water fountain and a tire pump. The Water Street Trailhead also includes an outhouse facility.
Not just a trail, this paved pathway is literally a cut above. The trail was designed with an intact tree canopy that provides a cooler place in the summertime then most local trails. Interpretive signs lead you through your outdoor journey teaching about area flora and fauna, wildlife wetlands and you can even learn how landfills work. Lucky trail users have been known to see white tailed deer, turtles, rabbits, geese and ducks. Clean and well maintained, there are three pocket parks and several benches along the trail offering a sheltered place to rest. For added scenery, this trail has seven bridges over various rivers and creeks and runs along the Shiawassee State Game Area. Equestrians also have a place on this trail. Trailer parking for equestrian users is available at the Van Wormer Road parking lot; from there equestrians can follow the equestrian trail signs either North or South for a quiet, challenging ride.
As if that wasn't enough, anglers can try their fortune at the handicapped accessible fishing dock on the Swan Creek just South on the trail from the Van Wormer Road parking lot.
The Saginaw Valley Rail Trail won the 2006 Michigan Recreation and Park Association Landscape Design Award.