North Eastern State Trail



The construction of the 71-mile North Eastern State Trail (NEST), formerly known as the Alpena to Cheboygan Rail-Trail, is now complete and open for use.

The NEST surfacing project started in April 2011 in Cheboygan and the contractor, Rieth-Riley Construction, has completed the trail surfacing from the City of Cheboygan to Hawks in Presque Isle County (except for 1.5 miles between S. Ocqueoc Road and the Village of Millersburg).

The NEST was constructed with a 10’ wide packed crushed limestone surface with two foot shoulders, similar to what was used on the North Central State Trail (NCST) that runs from Gaylord to Mackinaw City. Included in the surfacing will be new safety signs, access control and mile marker posts. The trail use, determined by the DNR, will stay the same; it will be open for all non-motorized use year round and snowmobiles from December 1 through March 31.

This project is a true collaboration between two state departments, local government and a non- profit organization. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) which owns and manages the trail, has been working with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) which completed the engineering for the project and is responsible for project oversight. The Top of Michigan Trails Council (TOMTC) helped create the funding package for the trail project including 60% through a Federal Transportation Grant, 20% from MDOT, 15% from the DNR via the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant and 5% from local units of government.

Distance: 70 miles
Trail Surface: railroad ballast, to be improved to crushed limestone in 2011
Horses: Permitted in Summer
Snowmobiles: Permitted in Winter




T= Trailhead
P= Parking
R= Restrooms
A= Amenities

ALPENA (T P R A) TO POSEN. This 17-mile segment runs through farm and forest country to the Village of Posen where there is parking and restrooms. The trail to Rogers City (Rogers City Spur) breaks off the main trail just north of Posen.

POSEN (P R) TO HAWKS:  This 10-mile segment passes through mostly wild land with some cultivated areas.  Hawks has a business or two that offers amenities and merchandise and a nice trail-side park for trail users to relax.

Hawks to Millersburg  This nine-mile segment passes through scenic country on its way to the Village of Millersburg where the old train depot is being brought back to life as a trail head and history museum.  A ride on this segment on a mountain or hybrid bicycle makes for a nice hour or two of riding since the trail surface is in relatively good shape.  Millersburg has several businesses with amenities.  The Ocqueoc River passes under a notable bridge in downtown Millersburg.

MILLERSBURG (P R A) TO ONAWAY.  This 9-mile segment is challenging for even mountain bikers although it is not remotely remote.  It crosses M 68 just west of Onaway where there is parking and many amenities downtown south of the trail.

ONAWAY (P R A) TO ALOHA STATE PARK. The trail follows M 68 for two miles to TOWER and then juts abruptly to the northwest en route to the State Park.  The 17-mile segment follows the Black River to the Kleber Dam and then tracks through mostly state land that is the wildest and most remote in our entire 259-mile trail system.  The trail surface is problematical in many stretches and there are few road crossings until M 33 just south of the park.  Inside (and just outside) the park there are good amenities.  Aloha State Park sits along the beautiful east side of Mullett Lake that is famous for its sunsets.

Bridge to Cheboygan

ALOHA STATE PARK (T P R A) TO CHEBOYGAN. The 6-miles of this segment are a nearly straight (and bikeable) route through a resort area along the lake and, after Orchard Beach, through mixed farm and forest country to Cheboygan.  After the trail crosses over a scenic trestle bridge near Cheboygan it draws ever closer to the Gaylord to Cheboygan Trail that is coming up from the southwest.  They come together at the Cheboygan Trailhead just south of downtown on Lincoln Avenue where the City of Cheboygan is planning to construct a proper trailhead at this important junction.  There is some parking at the site but most amenities can be found to the north and east in Cheboygan’s downtown where there is plenty to do.  For riders continuing to the north on either trail, the trail continues through the city and onto Mackinaw City.

SHORTCUT TO NORTH CENTRAL STATE TRAIL:  You can reach the Gaylord to Mackinaw City Trail without going into Cheboygan by taking Riggsville Road west about a mile south of the Cheboygan Trailhead. Riggsville Road is all paved but is often quite busy with traffic.

SHORTCUT TO PETOSKEY TO MACKINAW CITY TRAIL:  You can reach the Petoskey to Mackinaw City Trail  without going into Mackinaw City in the following way.  A mile south of Mill Creek State Park take Hebron Mail Road south to Potter Road.  Follow Potter as it goes over I-75 and crosses US 31 where it becomes Linsley Road.  From there it is a short distance to the trail.  Go left to Petoskey or right to Mackinaw City.

There are also excellent chances for “loop” rides through fairly remote country on local roads from several points along the way.

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