The Friends of the Fred Meijer River Valley Rail Trails is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of West Michigan volunteers excited and committed to supporting the River Valley Rail Trail system. The Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Trail is constructed on a former railroad corridor between Lowell and Ionia. The Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail is located on the former railroad corridor between Lowell and Greenville. The River Valley Rail Trails are non-motorized multi-use recreational trails used by individuals, families and organizations.
The Friends’ mission is to act as a public advocate in support of the trail. As advocates, the Friends work to gain support of government agencies, local businesses, and private citizens in maintaining the trail and any upgrades to the trail. The Friends are involved in construction and maintenence projects, lobbying, fundraising, event coodination, trail beautification and enhancement, habitat and wildlife preservation, etc. Local businesses are encouraged to support these efforts in view of documented economic benefits brought on by similar trails.
About the FMRVRT System
The FMRVRT system consists of two individual trails.
The Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Trail runs 15.6 miles from the intersection of Montcalm Rd and Riverside Dr on the east side of Lowell to Prairie Creek on the east side on Ionia. This trail also passes through Saranac and the Ionia State Recreation Area. The trail surface consists of crushed asphalt (HMA) for approximately 5 miles between Lowell and Saranac. The trail has a paved surface for 1.3 miles in Saranac. A crushed limestone surface is in place for 5.3 miles between Saranac and Ionia and approximately 4.0 miles of pavement in the City of Ionia. Trailhead buildings with restrooms are located in Saranac and Ionia. Trail mile markers are based on the old Grand Trunk Western RR railroad mile markers and indicate the distance from the old Brush St Station in downtown Detroit, now the location of the Renaissance Center and GM world headquarters.
The Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Trail runs 21.6 miles from Foreman Rd in Lowell to Jackson’s Landing in Greenville. This trail also passes through Smyrna and Belding. The trail is paved for 1.3 miles in Lowell. The trail surface consists of crushed asphalt (HMA) for 12.8 miles between Lowell and Belding. The trail has a paved surface for approximately 2.2 miles in Belding. Crushed asphalt resumes for approximately 4.8 miles between Belding and Greenville. The trail is paved for the final 0.5 mile into Greenville. Trail mile markers are based on the old C&O RR railroad mile markers and indicate the distance from Saginaw.
The Fred Meijer River Valley Rail-Trails are part of the larger regional Fred Meijer Mid West Michigan Trail Network. The FM Grand River Valley Trail connects to the Fred Meijer CIS Trail in Ionia which extends east to Owosso. The FM Flat River Valley Trail connects to the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail which continues on to Alma. The Lowell Area Recreational Authority (LARA) has secured funding to bridge the gap between the FM Grand River Valley Trail and the FM Flat River Valley Trail. A best base scenario would be completion in 2023 or 2024. Once this section is finished the FM Mid West Michigan Trail Network will span over 125 miles of continuous trail. The FM River Valley Rail-Trails network also connects to, or is in close proximity to, local trails in Greenville, Belding, Lowell, Saranac and Ionia.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) purchased the rail corridor, funded developmental studies, and provided primary funding for the trail. A generous endowment fund from the Meijer Foundation provides much of the funding for the maintenance of the trail. Through our partnership, our area has a premier recreational trail to compare with other highly successful rail-trails throughout Michigan. The Mid Michigan Trail Network is a regional trail system comprised of the Fred Meijer River Valley Trails, The Fred Meijer Heartland Trail and the Fred Meijer CIS Trail. Along with several local connecting trails, this system is the longest in Michigan and one of the longest in the country.