Time slows while in St. Charles, a place just off the beaten path where folks still wave to one another upon passing. Family restaurants serve up slices of hometown pleasure, the Golden Oldies Car Show is an annual hit, and Friday-night fun might include bowling at The Alley Bar & Grill or standing in line for old-fashioned malts at the local dairy bar, The Freezer.

But small-town charm is only half of what St. Charles has to offer as the village is also an active, year-round hotspot for outdoor adventurists! Home to the trailhead of the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail and neighbored by pristine wilderness and natural highlights-discover the "Gateway to the Shiawassee Flats" and experience all this is to be hiked, biked, tasted and explored in the village of St. Charles, Michigan!

Where the Trail Takes You

Saginaw Valley Rail Trail 1 

Whether you begin your trail adventure by filling up in St. Charles before heading out (try Tony's Restaurant for steak and eggs), or you follow the City of Saginaw Riverwalk into town for a bit of rest and a bite to eat along the way, the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail can be seen from town... but its foliage-drenched corridors and luscious displays of wildflowers and wildlife along the route must be experienced up-close for maximum enjoyment! One of three trails that make up the regional mecca, The Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail, the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail is 11 miles of picturesque scenery, pocket parks, and even a fishing platform... should trout, perch or smallmouth bass be the "taste of outdoors" that you've been craving!

Designed for all modes of non-motorized travel, do plan to hike, bike, in-line skate or even cross-country ski the section of Saginaw Valley Rail Trail that skirts the Shiawassee River State Game Area. Keep on the lookout for waterfowl and white-tailed deer, and don't forget your camera because the historical stone railroad trestle bridge you'll see along the way is a scenic beauty!

Gateway to the "Shiawassee Flats"

Shiawassee Flats 2 

Take the chance to experience more than 9,800 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwood forest, and grasslands throughout one of the largest and most productive wetland ecosystems in the state of Michigan, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Known locally as the "Shiawassee Flats", St Charles is known as the gateway into this natural wonder! Discover untouched wilderness and scenic views, witness four rivers converging (the Tittabawassee, Flint, Cass, and Shiawassee), and ready your binoculars for majestic sightings of Great Egrets. This trail is a showstopper!

Unique Eats

St. Charles has got you covered in the unique eats department. No one would blame you for frequenting above-mentioned Tony's Restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - or for ordering the infamous Tony's Steak Sandwich for all three! Comprised of two pieces of thick, Italian bread, a whopping slab of steak and marinara sauce for miles, add cheese and mushrooms if you like, and enjoy!

Looking for a tall, cold one with your eats? Venture into the Rustic Inn Steakhouse & Saloon like guests from across the globe do to experience life-size, authentic wildlife adorning the walls of this lodge-like spot where the Bloody Mary, burgers and steak sandwich are worth the visit for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or dine on a heralded French dip and "drink local", as they say and serve at Bad River Bar & Grill-check the website for drink specials and live music opportunities.

One Way or Another

Stop into Bare's Sport Shop for all things needed before spending an afternoon at St. Charles' 18-hole Kimberly Oaks Golf Course to slice into nearly 7,000 yards of pure enjoyment, or take in 19 holes and try to "throw" a hole-in-one at The Pines Disc Golf Course, located in St. Charles Community Park (along with two pavilions and a gazebo for picnicking pleasure).

Speaking of picnics, don't pass on the St. Charles Farmers' Marketplace for a beautiful and bountiful stop from June - October to fill your picnic basket with local produce and market treats! Find out what the "Vendor of the Week" will offer while you're there, here.

Experience a Stay

Whether you're in-town to visit the St. Charles Waterfowl Observatory or St. Charles Area Museum, or you're off trailblazing through 160 acres of some of Michigan's oldest forest plantations at Ringwood Forest, there's much to discover at the "Gateway to the Shiawassee Flats". Book a room at pet-friendly St. Charles Motel when you come - the longer you stay, the more you'll experience in St. Charles!

Shiawassee Flats With Canada Goose