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Aug 6, 2012

My North Central State Trail run

Rest day on the schedule today.


Yesterday I ran 16 miles on the North Central State Trail.  If you have been following the blog, I really struggled this week and was a little worried how this run would go.  I really did not want to run on cement or asphalt so I'm glad I got the opportunity with a trip up north to run part of the North Central State Trail.  The North Central State Trail runs from Gaylord all the way to Mackinaw City.  There are five stops along the way starting with Gaylord and going through Vanderbilt, Wolverine, Indian River, Topinabee, Cheboygan and finishing in Mackinaw City.  While I ran on it, this is a fantastic bike ride.  I'd love to bike the entire trail and there are many people who go up to Gaylord, stay there, then ride to Mackinaw City and stay there for a couple days and then ride back to their car in Gaylord.

The trail is 62 miles of crushed limestone.  Yes - 62 miles!!!!  It's one of my favorite surfaces to run on.  I started out at the beginning of the trail in Gaylord.  I'm fortunately enough to have my cottage about 15 minutes from the start of the trailhead.  The first thing I will note is that I had no idea where it started.  Even with directions, I had a hard time finding it.  All photos were taken on an iPhone so I apologize in advance.  It's just a sign where it starts:

The trail starts on asphalt and I'm thinking - great, I have to run on this, but almost immediately, it turns to crushed limestone - love it!!  The first thing I come across is an couple old train cars.   Actually, I'm not sure how old they were but this is what they looked like:

I continued down the trail.  There is some amazing scenery to look at as your running and it's so peaceful.  I didn't see any deer but I did see lots of rabbits and three hugs cranes.  The cranes were walking on the trail(was not quick enough with the camera) and must have been almost five feet tall.  As I got closer, they flew off.  I saw a total of 5 people on the trail for 16 miles!  Three bikers and two walkers.  I didn't seen another person on the trail until about mile 13 but then again it was Sunday and I started running it at 7:30am.  Here's some of the great scenery along the way:
Some awesome fields to run by
A really cool bridge to run under
There were even two tunnels to run through!
Since I had 16 on the schedule, I decided to run out 8 and then back.  Here's a stretch in the trail where you could really see far.  It seems like it goes forever.  Of course, it does go pretty far!
Straight stretch
I actually prefer when the trail twists a little bit so it does not seem like you are running that far - even though you are!
Here's a cool looking pond next to the trail
Finally what seemed like forever, since I'm used to running long runs with my running buddy, I got to Vanderbilt - here's proof!
Stop ahead because in winter this is also a snowmobile trail
Made it!
I continued for another 1/2 mile since Vanderbilt was only 7.5 miles out.  One nice thing in Vanderbilt is a gas station that I could have stopped at to pick up another water, something to eat or go to the bathroom.  I didn't use it this time but was happy to know it was there if needed.  Fortunately the temperatures where in the 60's and windy so it was really nice running and I was not overheated.  Here's where I turned around:
I think I have a long way back....
So I ran some more....

I got to about mile 13-14 and got another couple great scenery photos.  As I was coming back, it also looked like it was going to rain but never did.  In fact, the sun started coming out again and it ended up being a great finish to the run.
I liked the red barn - rain? no!
It was actually hard to believe this is the same day as the picture above
It's like the clouds thinned out and the sky started to open up.
I finished up the last miles of my run and got myself back to Gaylord.  Fortunately, there is cell phone service along the way in case you got into trouble and could not make it back.  Plus while there were some farms that were far from the trails, there are some homes near the trail as well - at least in the first section from Gaylord to Vanderbilt.
Taken right where the trailhead starts in Gaylord.

With that, I finished out my week of running with 40 miles and about 10 miles on the bike.  A great way to end the week considering how I felt in the beginning of the week.

My plan is to run this at least another three times before the marathon in October.  Perhaps I'll even be able to run other parts of the trail which look even prettier than these since you run many miles past Mullett Lake - one of the nicer lakes in Northern Michigan.  If you have a trip planned in Michigan, plan on stopping by the North Central State Trail - you'll be happy you ran/biked it.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. That's a beautiful place to run! You got some great shots of the scenery along the way.

  2. Looks like a nice place to run, maybe next time you drive to VanDer Bilt and run from there?

    1. That is the plan coach - to eventually run the entire trail

  3. That looks awesome. I'm actually heading north next week. I hope to find some cool trails around Torch Lake.

  4. I ran about 10 miles on the trail from Indian River toward Mackinaw - great run!