North Eastern State Trail (NEST) In Michigan

Here is everything you need to know about the North Eastern State Trail (NEST):

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Michigan
  • Length: 71 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use.
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:,4570,7-350-79119_79146_81198—,00.html

The North Eastern State Trail (NEST) is a historic rail-trail located in the northeastern region of the United States. The trail follows the path of the former Detroit and Mackinac Railway, which was established in the late 19th century. The railway played a crucial role in connecting various towns and cities in Michigan, facilitating the transportation of goods and people across the state.

Construction of the Detroit and Mackinac Railway began in the 1880s, with the goal of linking the cities of Bay City and Cheboygan. The railway was completed in 1894, spanning a distance of approximately 250 miles. It quickly became an essential transportation route, serving industries such as timber, mining, and agriculture. The railway also played a significant role in promoting tourism, as it provided access to popular vacation destinations along the northern coast of Michigan.

Over the years, the Detroit and Mackinac Railway faced various challenges, including financial difficulties and declining passenger traffic. In 1992, the railway ceased operations, and the tracks were eventually removed. However, recognizing the historical significance of the railway, efforts were made to repurpose the corridor as a recreational trail.

In 2000, the North Eastern State Trail was officially established, utilizing a portion of the former Detroit and Mackinac Railway right-of-way. The trail now spans approximately 71 miles, passing through picturesque landscapes, charming towns, and historic sites. Today, the NEST serves as a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering opportunities for hiking, biking, and snowmobiling, while also preserving the rich history of the region’s transportation heritage.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Alpena Trailhead: Located in Alpena, Michigan, this trailhead provides access to the NEST and is a popular starting point for many hikers and bikers.

2. Cheboygan Trailhead: Situated in Cheboygan, Michigan, this access point offers parking facilities and amenities for trail users.

3. Indian River Trailhead: Located in Indian River, Michigan, this trailhead provides access to the NEST and is a convenient starting point for those exploring the trail.

4. Mackinaw City Trailhead: Situated in Mackinaw City, Michigan, this access point is close to the iconic Mackinac Bridge and offers parking facilities for trail users.

5. Cheboygan State Park Trailhead: Located within Cheboygan State Park, this trailhead provides access to the NEST and offers additional recreational opportunities within the park.

6. Aloha State Park Trailhead: Situated within Aloha State Park, this access point offers parking facilities and access to the NEST, as well as beautiful views of Mullett Lake.

7. Onaway State Park Trailhead: Located within Onaway State Park, this trailhead provides access to the NEST and offers parking facilities for trail users.

8. Posen Trailhead: Situated in Posen, Michigan, this access point offers parking facilities and access to the NEST.

9. Hawks Trailhead: Located in Hawks, Michigan, this trailhead provides access to the NEST and is a popular starting point for hikers and bikers.

10. Millersburg Trailhead: Situated in Millersburg, Michigan, this access point offers parking facilities and access to the NEST.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the North Eastern State Trail (NEST). There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. North Eastern State Trail Shuttle – Shuttle service providing convenient transportation along the North Eastern State Trail.
2. Bike Rentals – Bike rental services available near the North Eastern State Trail for easy exploration.
3. Taxi Services – Local taxi companies offering transportation to and from the North Eastern State Trail.
4. Car Rental – Car rental agencies providing vehicles for independent travel around the North Eastern State Trail.
5. Public Bus – Public bus service with routes connecting to the North Eastern State Trail for affordable transportation.
6. Ride-Sharing Services – Ride-sharing platforms offering convenient and on-demand transportation options near the North Eastern State Trail.
7. Local Train Station – Nearby train station providing transportation options for accessing the North Eastern State Trail and surrounding areas.
8. Airport Shuttle – Shuttle services connecting nearby airports to the North Eastern State Trail for travelers.
9. Horse and Carriage Rides – Traditional horse and carriage rides available for a unique transportation experience along the North Eastern State Trail.
10. Pedicabs – Pedicab services offering eco-friendly transportation options around the North Eastern State Trail.


The North Eastern State Trail (NEST) offers several amenities for visitors. Some of the amenities available at NEST include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: NEST provides parking areas at different access points along the trail, allowing visitors to park their vehicles safely.

3. Camping Sites: There are designated camping sites along the trail where visitors can set up tents and spend the night. These sites may have fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: NEST offers picnic areas with tables and benches where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack amidst the natural surroundings.

5. Benches: There are benches placed at regular intervals along the trail, providing resting spots for visitors to take a break and enjoy the scenery.

6. Information Kiosks: Information kiosks are available at certain points along the trail, providing visitors with maps, trail information, and safety guidelines.

7. Trailhead Facilities: At the trailheads, visitors may find additional amenities such as visitor centers, interpretive displays, and drinking water stations.

8. Bike Racks: NEST provides bike racks at various locations, allowing cyclists to securely park their bikes while exploring the trail on foot.

9. Signage: The trail is well-marked with signage, providing clear directions and information about distances, points of interest, and safety guidelines.

10. Accessibility: NEST strives to be accessible to all visitors, with features such as wheelchair-accessible restrooms, paved paths, and ramps at certain locations.

Please note that the availability of these amenities may vary depending on the specific section of the trail and its management. It is always recommended to check with the local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Lodge at Millinocket – Cozy lodging option near NEST trailhead in Millinocket, Maine.
2. Katahdin Inn & Suites – Convenient hotel offering comfortable accommodations in Millinocket, Maine.
3. Appalachian Trail Cafe – Casual eatery serving delicious meals and snacks along the NEST trail.
4. The River Driver’s Restaurant – Rustic dining spot with scenic views, located near the NEST trail in Millinocket, Maine.
5. Baxter Brewing Co. – Local brewery offering craft beers and light bites near the NEST trail in Lewiston, Maine.
6. Millinocket Regional Hospital – Nearby emergency medical services for any unforeseen incidents along the NEST trail.
7. Maine State Police – Emergency law enforcement services available throughout the NEST trail.
8. Millinocket Police Department – Local police department providing emergency services in Millinocket, Maine.
9. Millinocket Fire Department – Fire and rescue services available in Millinocket, Maine, near the NEST trail.
10. Northern Light Health – Healthcare facility offering emergency medical services near the NEST trail in Millinocket, Maine.

North Eastern State Trail (NEST) Difficulty Notes

The North Eastern State Trail (NEST) presents a moderate difficulty level for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning approximately 71 miles, this multi-use trail offers a diverse terrain that can challenge both hikers and bikers. While the trail is generally well-maintained, there are sections that may require extra caution due to uneven surfaces or occasional obstacles. The NEST showcases the natural beauty of Michigan’s northeastern region, with picturesque views of forests, wetlands, and charming small towns along the way. Whether you are seeking a leisurely stroll or a more rigorous adventure, the NEST provides a satisfying experience for individuals of varying fitness levels.

Features And Attractions

The North Eastern State Trail (NEST) is a 71-mile long rail-trail that runs through the northeastern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Along this trail, you can find several scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and other points of interest. Here are some notable ones:

1. Cheboygan State Park: Located near the southern end of the trail, this state park offers beautiful views of Lake Huron, sandy beaches, and hiking trails.

2. Aloha State Park: Situated on Mullett Lake, this park provides stunning views of the lake and its surrounding forests. It’s a great spot for picnicking, swimming, and fishing.

3. Ocqueoc Falls: The only recognized waterfall in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Ocqueoc Falls is a natural landmark along the trail. It’s a popular spot for hiking, picnicking, and swimming.

4. Rogers City: This historic town is known for its limestone quarrying industry. Visitors can explore the Calcite Quarry, visit the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse, and enjoy scenic views of Lake Huron.

5. Alpena: The city of Alpena offers various attractions, including the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which preserves numerous shipwrecks, and the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

6. Hubbard Lake: This large lake is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming. It offers picturesque views and recreational opportunities.

7. Harrisville State Park: Located on the shores of Lake Huron, this state park features sandy beaches, dunes, and hiking trails. It’s an excellent spot for camping and enjoying the scenic beauty of the area.

8. Alcona Dam: This hydroelectric dam on the Au Sable River provides a picturesque view and is a great spot for fishing and wildlife observation.

9. Tawas Point State Park: Situated on a sandy peninsula that juts into Lake Huron, this park offers stunning views of the lake, a historic lighthouse, and opportunities for birdwatching.

10. Oscoda: This town is known for its beautiful beaches along Lake Huron. Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and exploring the nearby Huron-Manistee National Forest.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks that can be found along the North Eastern State Trail. Exploring the trail will provide you with many more opportunities to discover the beauty and history of Michigan’s northeastern region.

Usage Guidelines

– All users must follow the designated trail and stay on marked paths.
– Pets are allowed on the trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets and disposing of waste properly.
– Bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail.
– Motorized vehicles, including ATVs and motorcycles, are not permitted on the trail.
– Hunting, fishing, and trapping are not allowed on the trail.
– Camping and open fires are prohibited along the trail.
– Littering is strictly prohibited. Users must carry out any trash they generate.
– Respect private property and do not trespass on adjacent lands.
– The trail is open year-round, but users should be aware of seasonal conditions and adjust their activities accordingly.
– During winter months, the trail may be used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
– Users are encouraged to be mindful of other trail users and share the trail in a courteous manner.
– Any damage or maintenance issues should be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Seasonal Information

The North Eastern State Trail (NEST) is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a scenic and diverse experience throughout the year. The best times to visit the trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. However, the spring and fall seasons are generally considered the most favorable for exploring the NEST.

In the spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant colors as the trees and flowers bloom. The weather is usually mild, making it an ideal time for hiking, biking, and birdwatching. The trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, including lush forests, sparkling rivers, and charming small towns. Springtime also brings an abundance of wildlife, making it a great opportunity for nature lovers to spot various species along the trail.

Fall is another fantastic time to visit the NEST, especially for those who appreciate the beauty of autumn foliage. The trail is transformed into a picturesque landscape as the leaves change colors, creating a stunning display of reds, oranges, and yellows. Hiking or biking through this vibrant scenery is a memorable experience. Additionally, the cooler temperatures make outdoor activities more enjoyable, and the trail is less crowded compared to the summer months.

It’s important to note that the NEST may have seasonal closures or restrictions in certain areas. During the winter months, some sections of the trail may be closed due to snow accumulation or icy conditions, making it unsuitable for certain activities. However, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities on the trail, providing a unique and serene experience. It’s always recommended to check with local authorities or trail management for the latest updates on closures and conditions before planning your visit.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trail entrance for individuals with disabilities.
2. Accessible Trail Entrance: A ramp or level access point at the trail entrance to accommodate wheelchair users.
3. Smooth and Level Surface: The trail is paved or has a smooth and level surface to ensure easy wheelchair navigation.
4. Rest Areas with Benches: Regularly spaced benches along the trail for individuals to rest and take a break.
5. Accessible Restrooms: Restrooms equipped with accessible features such as grab bars, wider doorways, and sufficient space for wheelchair maneuverability.
6. Braille Signage: Trail signs with Braille text to assist visually impaired individuals.
7. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and seating options for individuals with disabilities.
8. Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails along the trail to provide stability and safety for individuals with mobility challenges.
9. Accessible Water Fountains: Water fountains at a suitable height for wheelchair users and with accessible controls.
10. Trail Information in Alternative Formats: Trail maps and brochures available in alternative formats such as large print or electronic versions for individuals with visual impairments.

Safety Information

When visiting the North Eastern State Trail (NEST), it is important to keep the following safety information in mind:

1. Trail Etiquette: Be respectful of other trail users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians. Yield to slower-moving users and announce your presence when passing.

2. Stay on the Trail: Stick to designated paths and avoid venturing off into restricted areas or private property. This helps preserve the natural environment and ensures your safety.

3. Be Aware of Surroundings: Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Watch out for wildlife, fallen branches, or other potential hazards on the trail.

4. Dress Appropriately: Wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear for the trail conditions. Consider wearing bright or reflective clothing to enhance visibility, especially during low-light conditions.

5. Carry Water and Snacks: Bring an adequate supply of water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized during your visit. It is essential to stay nourished, especially on longer hikes or bike rides.

6. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Consider using insect repellent to ward off bugs, especially during warmer months.

7. Check Weather Conditions: Before heading out, check the weather forecast to ensure you are prepared for any changes in conditions. Avoid the trail during severe weather, such as thunderstorms or heavy snowfall.

8. Share Your Plans: Inform someone about your plans, including the trail you’ll be visiting, estimated duration, and expected return time. This way, someone will be aware of your whereabouts in case of an emergency.

9. Carry a First Aid Kit: It’s always a good idea to have a basic first aid kit with you. Include essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications.

10. Use Proper Lighting: If you plan to visit the trail during low-light conditions or after sunset, carry a flashlight or headlamp to ensure visibility and prevent accidents.

Remember, safety should always be a priority when enjoying outdoor activities. By following these guidelines, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience on the North Eastern State Trail (NEST).

Conservation Notes

The North Eastern State Trail (NEST) is a significant conservation area that spans across the northeastern region of the United States. As a designated state trail, NEST holds a crucial conservation status due to its ecological importance and the need to protect its natural resources. The trail passes through diverse landscapes, including forests, wetlands, and meadows, providing habitat for a wide range of plant and animal species.

Conservation efforts for NEST focus on preserving the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the trail. The trail serves as a vital corridor for wildlife movement, allowing for the dispersal and migration of various species. It supports populations of numerous native plants, including rare and endangered species, contributing to the overall biodiversity of the region. Conservation initiatives aim to maintain and restore the natural habitats along the trail, ensuring the survival of these plant species and the animals that depend on them.

Additionally, the conservation status of NEST involves managing and mitigating human impacts on the trail and its surrounding areas. This includes addressing issues such as invasive species, habitat fragmentation, and pollution. Conservation organizations and government agencies work together to implement strategies that minimize these threats and promote sustainable use of the trail. By raising awareness about the importance of NEST’s conservation, efforts are made to engage local communities and visitors in responsible recreational activities that do not harm the natural environment. Overall, the conservation status of NEST is crucial for preserving the ecological health and biodiversity of the northeastern region.

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