Shiawassee River Trail In Michigan

Here is everything you need to know about the Shiawassee River Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Michigan
  • Length: 88 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use.
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Shiawassee County Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Shiawassee River Trail is a scenic pathway located in central Michigan, stretching approximately 20 miles along the banks of the Shiawassee River. The history of this trail dates back to the early 19th century when the region was inhabited by Native American tribes, primarily the Ojibwe and Potawatomi. These tribes relied on the river for transportation, fishing, and trade, recognizing its significance as a vital waterway.

With the arrival of European settlers in the mid-1800s, the area surrounding the Shiawassee River became a hub for logging and agriculture. The river served as a means of transporting timber and agricultural products to nearby towns and cities. As the region developed, the need for a reliable transportation route became evident, leading to the construction of a towpath along the river in the late 1800s. This towpath allowed horses to pull barges filled with goods, further facilitating trade and commerce in the area.

Over time, as the demand for water transportation diminished, the towpath fell into disuse. However, in the late 20th century, the idea of repurposing the abandoned towpath into a recreational trail gained traction. In 1999, the Shiawassee County Parks and Recreation Commission, in collaboration with local communities and volunteers, embarked on a project to transform the towpath into a multi-use trail.

The development of the Shiawassee River Trail involved clearing overgrown vegetation, constructing bridges, and improving accessibility. The trail officially opened to the public in 2001, offering a picturesque route for hikers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts to explore the natural beauty of the Shiawassee River and its surrounding landscapes. Today, the Shiawassee River Trail stands as a testament to the region’s rich history and serves as a beloved recreational resource for both locals and visitors alike.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. McCurdy Park Trailhead – Located in Corunna, Michigan, this trailhead provides access to the Shiawassee River Trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

2. Owosso River Trailhead – Situated in Owosso, Michigan, this trailhead is another major access point for the Shiawassee River Trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

3. Shiawassee County Fairgrounds Trailhead – Located near the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds in Corunna, Michigan, this trailhead provides access to the Shiawassee River Trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

4. Byron Road Trailhead – Situated on Byron Road in Durand, Michigan, this trailhead is a popular access point for the Shiawassee River Trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

5. Henderson Park Trailhead – Located in Durand, Michigan, this trailhead provides access to the Shiawassee River Trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

6. McCurdy Park South Trailhead – Situated in Corunna, Michigan, this trailhead is another access point for the Shiawassee River Trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

7. Shiawassee River State Game Area Trailhead – Located in New Haven Township, Michigan, this trailhead provides access to the Shiawassee River Trail. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

8. Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail – This access point is located at various locations along the Shiawassee River, allowing users to access the Shiawassee River Trail from different points. It offers parking facilities and restrooms at specific locations.

Please note that the availability of parking facilities and restrooms may vary, and it is advisable to check with local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information.

Transportation Available

1. Shiawassee Area Transportation Agency (SATA) – Local public transportation service.
2. Uber – On-demand ridesharing service.
3. Lyft – On-demand ridesharing service.
4. Shiawassee County Airport – Local airport providing air transportation services.
5. Shiawassee County Taxi – Local taxi service.
6. Shiawassee River Paddling Company – Kayak and canoe rental service for river transportation.
7. Shiawassee River Water Trail – Water trail for recreational boating and paddling.
8. Shiawassee River Greenway Trail – Trail for walking, biking, and other non-motorized transportation along the river.


The amenities available at the Shiawassee River Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail, including at the trailheads and some designated rest areas.

2. Parking: There are parking lots available at multiple trailheads along the Shiawassee River Trail. These parking areas provide convenient access to the trail for visitors.

3. Camping Sites: The trail offers designated camping sites for overnight stays. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water sources.

4. Picnic Areas: There are several picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas often have picnic tables and benches for convenience.

5. Fishing Spots: The Shiawassee River Trail is known for its fishing opportunities. There are designated fishing spots along the trail where anglers can try their luck.

6. Wildlife Viewing Areas: The trail passes through scenic areas with abundant wildlife. Visitors can find designated viewing areas to observe and appreciate the natural surroundings.

7. Interpretive Signs: Throughout the trail, there are interpretive signs that provide information about the local flora, fauna, and history. These signs offer educational opportunities for visitors.

8. Trail Maps and Information: At the trailheads or visitor centers, you can find trail maps and informational brochures to help navigate and learn more about the Shiawassee River Trail.

9. Benches and Rest Areas: Along the trail, there are benches and rest areas where visitors can take a break, relax, and enjoy the surroundings.

10. Water Access Points: The trail provides access points to the Shiawassee River, allowing visitors to engage in activities such as kayaking, canoeing, or simply enjoying the water.

Please note that amenities may vary at different sections of the trail, so it is advisable to check specific locations or visitor centers for more detailed information.

Nearby Services

1. Comstock Inn & Conference Center – A nearby lodging option offering comfortable rooms and event facilities.
2. Owosso Motor Inn – A budget-friendly motel with basic amenities for a convenient stay.
3. Shiawassee County Fairgrounds – Offers camping facilities for those looking to stay close to the trail.
4. The Wrought Iron Grill – A popular restaurant serving American cuisine with a cozy atmosphere.
5. Roma’s Back Door – A family-owned Italian restaurant known for its delicious pasta dishes.
6. Memorial Healthcare – A nearby hospital providing emergency medical services.
7. Owosso Police Department – Local law enforcement agency offering emergency assistance and support.

Shiawassee River Trail Difficulty Notes

The Shiawassee River Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers and bikers. The trail spans approximately 20 miles, providing a diverse range of terrains and landscapes. While some sections are relatively flat and easy to navigate, others feature more challenging inclines and uneven surfaces. The trail also includes a few stream crossings and areas with potential obstacles such as fallen trees or rocks. Overall, the Shiawassee River Trail is suitable for individuals with a moderate level of fitness and outdoor experience, offering an enjoyable and rewarding adventure for those seeking a bit of a challenge.

Features And Attractions

1. Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge: Located near the trail, this refuge offers stunning views of wetlands, forests, and wildlife. It is a great spot for birdwatching and nature photography.

2. Saginaw River: The trail follows the Shiawassee River, which eventually merges with the Saginaw River. Along the way, you can enjoy beautiful views of the river, including its bridges, boats, and waterfront areas.

3. Shiawassee County Fairgrounds: This fairground hosts various events throughout the year, including the Shiawassee County Fair. It is a historical site that showcases the agricultural heritage of the region.

4. McCurdy Park: Located in Corunna, this park offers a scenic view of the river and features picnic areas, playgrounds, and walking trails. It is a great spot for a family outing or a leisurely walk along the river.

5. Owosso Riverwalk: This section of the trail passes through Owosso, where you can enjoy a picturesque riverwalk. The trail is lined with beautiful landscaping, benches, and public art, making it a pleasant place to stroll.

6. Curwood Castle Museum: Located in Owosso, this historical site was the home of famous author James Oliver Curwood. The castle-like structure is now a museum that showcases Curwood’s life and works.

7. Shiawassee Arts Center: Also located in Owosso, this center is housed in a historic building and features rotating art exhibits, workshops, and events. It is a great place to appreciate local art and culture.

8. Shiawassee County Historical Society Museum: Situated in Owosso, this museum offers a glimpse into the history of the county. It houses various artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that showcase the region’s past.

9. Shiawassee County Courthouse: Located in Corunna, this historic courthouse is an architectural gem. It is worth a visit to admire its beautiful design and learn about its significance in the county’s history.

10. Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail: This water trail runs parallel to the Shiawassee River Trail and offers opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. It allows you to experience the natural beauty of the river from a different perspective.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the Shiawassee River Trail. Exploring the trail will provide you with many more delightful discoveries.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Bicycles are allowed on the trail, but riders must yield to pedestrians.
3. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the trail.
4. Camping or overnight stays are not permitted along the trail.
5. Fires and open flames are strictly prohibited.
6. Littering is not allowed; please dispose of trash in designated bins.
7. Hunting or trapping is not permitted on the trail.
8. Fishing is allowed, but a valid fishing license is required.
9. Swimming or wading in the river is at your own risk; there are no designated swimming areas.
10. Respect seasonal restrictions, such as closures during hunting seasons or extreme weather conditions.
11. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into private property.
12. Be mindful of other trail users and maintain a safe distance when passing.
13. Do not disturb or harm wildlife or plant life along the trail.
14. Use the trail responsibly and follow all posted signs and regulations.

Seasonal Information

The Shiawassee River Trail, located in Michigan, offers a picturesque and serene experience for outdoor enthusiasts. The best times of the year to visit the trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. Spring and fall are particularly popular due to the mild temperatures and vibrant foliage. During these seasons, the trail showcases stunning colors as the leaves change, creating a breathtaking backdrop for hiking, biking, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the river.

In spring, the trail comes alive with the blooming of wildflowers and the return of migratory birds. The weather is generally pleasant, with temperatures ranging from the 50s to 70s Fahrenheit (10-25 degrees Celsius). This time of year is perfect for birdwatching, as the river attracts a variety of species. Additionally, the trail is less crowded compared to the summer months, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature.

Fall is another fantastic time to visit the Shiawassee River Trail. The trail is enveloped in a kaleidoscope of colors as the leaves change to vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The crisp air and cooler temperatures make it ideal for hiking or biking, providing a refreshing escape from the summer heat. Fall also offers opportunities for fishing, as the river is home to various species such as trout and smallmouth bass.

It’s important to note that the Shiawassee River Trail does not have any seasonal closures. However, it’s advisable to check for any temporary closures or restrictions due to maintenance or unforeseen circumstances. The trail is generally well-maintained and accessible year-round, but it’s always a good idea to stay updated on any changes or closures before planning your visit.


1. Paved Surface: The Shiawassee River Trail features a fully paved surface, ensuring smooth and accessible travel for wheelchair users.
2. Wide Pathways: The trail offers wide pathways, allowing ample space for wheelchair users to navigate comfortably.
3. Accessible Parking: ADA-compliant parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, providing convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
4. Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with proper facilities for wheelchair users are located along the trail.
5. Picnic Areas: ADA-accessible picnic areas are available, allowing individuals with disabilities to enjoy outdoor dining and relaxation.
6. Benches: Wheelchair-accessible benches are strategically placed along the trail, providing resting spots for individuals with mobility challenges.
7. Signage: The trail features clear and visible signage, including braille and tactile elements, to assist individuals with visual impairments.
8. Handrails: Where necessary, handrails are installed along the trail to aid individuals with mobility limitations.
9. Accessible Entrances: The trail entrances are designed to be wheelchair accessible, ensuring easy entry and exit for all visitors.
10. Trail Loops: The Shiawassee River Trail offers various loop options, allowing wheelchair users to choose routes that suit their preferences and abilities.
11. Accessible Fishing Platforms: ADA-compliant fishing platforms are available along the trail, enabling individuals with disabilities to enjoy fishing activities.
12. Assistance Animals: Service animals are welcome on the trail, providing support and companionship to individuals with disabilities.
13. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are conveniently located along the trail for visitors to stay hydrated.
14. Accessible Trailhead Facilities: The trailhead area provides accessible facilities, including information kiosks and maps, to assist all visitors.
15. Trail Maintenance: The trail is regularly maintained to ensure accessibility, with any necessary repairs or modifications promptly addressed.

Safety Information

When visiting the Shiawassee River Trail, it is important to keep the following safety information in mind:

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths and avoid venturing off into unmarked areas. This will help prevent accidents and minimize the impact on the natural environment.

2. Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and watch out for any potential hazards such as uneven terrain, fallen branches, or wildlife. Keep an eye on the trail markers to avoid getting lost.

3. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing, including sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Dress in layers to accommodate changing weather conditions and bring rain gear if necessary.

4. Carry essential supplies: Bring enough water to stay hydrated throughout your hike. It is also advisable to carry a map, compass, or GPS device, a first aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen, and snacks.

5. Inform someone about your plans: Before heading out, let a friend or family member know about your intended route and estimated time of return. This way, someone will be aware of your whereabouts in case of an emergency.

6. Practice Leave No Trace principles: Respect the environment by leaving it as you found it. Dispose of trash properly, avoid damaging plants or wildlife, and refrain from making excessive noise.

7. Be cautious near water: The Shiawassee River Trail runs alongside the river, so exercise caution when near the water’s edge. Avoid swimming alone, especially in areas with strong currents or deep water. Keep an eye on children and pets to ensure their safety.

8. Use insect repellent: During warmer months, mosquitoes and ticks can be present along the trail. Apply insect repellent to protect yourself from bites and check for ticks after your hike.

9. Stay hydrated and take breaks: Pace yourself and take regular breaks to rest and hydrate. This will help prevent exhaustion and dehydration, especially during hot weather.

10. Respect other trail users: The Shiawassee River Trail is open to various recreational activities, including hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Be considerate of other trail users, yield to faster-moving traffic, and follow any posted rules or guidelines.

Remember, safety is paramount when enjoying outdoor activities. By following these guidelines, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience on the Shiawassee River Trail.

Conservation Notes

The Shiawassee River Trail, located in Michigan, is considered to have a relatively stable conservation status. The trail runs along the banks of the Shiawassee River, which is a designated State Natural River. This designation provides legal protection to the river and its surrounding ecosystem, ensuring its preservation and conservation.

The conservation efforts for the Shiawassee River Trail primarily focus on maintaining the river’s water quality and protecting its diverse wildlife. The river supports a variety of fish species, including smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye, which are important for both recreational fishing and the overall health of the ecosystem. Conservation measures aim to prevent pollution and maintain the river’s natural flow, which is crucial for the survival of these fish populations.

Additionally, the trail passes through various habitats, including wetlands, woodlands, and meadows, which are home to a wide range of plant and animal species. Conservation efforts involve managing invasive species, preserving native vegetation, and protecting critical habitats for wildlife. The trail also provides educational opportunities for visitors, raising awareness about the importance of conservation and encouraging responsible outdoor recreation.

Overall, the conservation status of the Shiawassee River Trail is relatively positive, with ongoing efforts to protect and preserve the river and its surrounding ecosystem. These conservation measures ensure the sustainability of the trail and its natural resources, allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty of the Shiawassee River while minimizing their impact on the environment.

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