Running the Pere Marquette Trail

This week I’ve been in Michigan helping my post-surgery sister in law and caring for my baby nephew. Luckily, one of my running friends lives in the area and was willing to meet up with me for a long run mid-week on the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail. I definitely needed the accountability to get out there and get the run in. I honestly have no idea how running mamas get anything done!

The Pere Marquette Trail (Pere means “father” and the trail is named after Jacques Marquette, a French missionary) and occupies the abandoned bed of the CSX railroad in Midland and Isabella Counties. It runs from downtown Midland to the outskirts of Clare, a distance of approximately 30 miles. The Pere Marquette Trail is a barrier-free, 12-feet wide, asphalt trail and is popular among walkers, runners, bikers, and rollerbladers.  There are mile markers every half mile for much of the trail.

The Pere Marquette Trail officially begins at the Tridge in downtown Midland. The City of Midland owns a three mile portion of the trail located within the city limits and maintained by the City. The portion owned by Midland begins at the famous Tridge, runs past a little splash park, and along Main Street. At the Tridge start there is a drinking fountain (including dog drinking fountain!), bathroom facility, and plenty of parking.

The City-owned part of the Pere Marquette Trail goes past several City of Midland parks, including a skate park, baseball diamonds, open fields, and even the Dahlia Hill, a huge planting of dahlias.

The Pere Marquette Rail-Trail is lovely. I really enjoyed the smooth, asphalt surface. It was even, graded, and comfortable for running. There were barely even any cracks. The path was truly smooth – smooth enough that my friend and I saw an elderly couple with walkers using the trail. It was wide enough for multiple people to pass comfortably, including families on bikes, runners, and walkers. The trail, like much of this part of Michigan, is totally flat. Most of the Midland part of the trail is shaded and bordered by wild flowers, shrubs, and trees. The trail even runs past the river in some places, creating a nice breeze off the water.

My running friend and I had a really nice run together and I enjoyed the trail. It was hot, hot, hot, but we trotted along for several miles. It was a good run, with even better company. Now I’ve caught the cold that the baby had, so I haven’t been back to the Pere Marquette Trail, but I hope to visit it again sometime.

If you’re in the mid-Michigan area, check out the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail.

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