The Saginaw Valley Rail-Trail is a perfect summer escape, since the foliage-drenched corridor offers respite from the sun, though the trail remains beautiful and accessible through all seasons. This 10-mile trail edges Saginaw's southern boundary before it heads south to St. Charles. Equestrians follow a parallel path that begins at Stroebel Road, where there is plenty of parking, and continues all the way to Martin Road. (address is 6225 Stroebel Road, Saginaw 48609).
From the trailhead, you are in nature's garden. Luscious displays of Queen Anne's lace and wildflowers cluster along the route. Interpretive signs identify many of these species and add a nice touch to your trip. Equally pleasing is the thick carpet of plants flanking much of the trail. The intact canopy of trees makes you feel as if you are in a large forest. The trail provides views of a mix of agricultural and residential land.
About a third of the way through your journey, you will reach a trailhead at the corner of Swan Creek Road and Van Wormer Road that has restrooms, soda machines, drinking fountains and parking. Located between Van Wormer and Benkert roads is a fishing platform, where you may see anglers hoping to snag a trout, perch or smallmouth bass. (address is 2998 Van Wormer, Saginaw 48609)
There are three pocket parks, complete with wooden gazebos and benches, along the trail. The first is located between Stroebel Road and River Road, the second between Spencer Road and Lakefield Road and the third between Teft Road and Prior Road. These shelters provide opportunities to relax and further soak in the solace of your leafy green surroundings.
The last half of the trail skirts the Shiawassee River State Game Area. This natural area gives you the chance for some excellent wildlife viewing. Stop at the viewing platform at Martin Road and take in the scenery. Watch for geese, ducks, swans and white-tailed deer throughout the year. Lumberjack Park in St. Charles is the end of the line for this straight, wide and smooth trail. (address is 401 East Water Street, St. Charles). The trail ends with a trip across a historical stone railroad trestle bridge and a pretty view of the Bad River.
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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.
Directions to Stroebel Road parking lot (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.
Directions to Van Wormer parking lot (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.
Directions to the parking lot at Lumberjack Park (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.
Thomas Township Trail connects to the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail. It is landscaped and paved with asphalt and is 2.3 miles long. It begins at Thomas Township's Public Service building near Gratiot Road (M-46).