The trail surface is a mix of sand, gravel and coarse limestone, designed for snowmobiles and ATVs, but suitable for fat-tire biking. Mile markers help you track your progress through this secluded second growth forest. You’ll find a small grocery store in the tiny hamlet of Steuben, the last vestige of the many logging camps or towns that vanished after the railroad was abandoned.

The trail has been recognized as a Pure Michigan Designated Trail and designated as a heritage trail. The heritage trail project includes a series of 11 historical interpretive kiosks that explore the natural and cultural history of the area.

Ken McNally

The Big Spring

Pure Michigan Trail

Haywire Grade Trail

Trail Length: 32 miles between Manistique and Shingleton

Location: Intake Park Road - Manistique, Michigan (across from Manistique Pumping Station)

Location: Jack Pine Lodge on M-94 (about half way between Manistique and Shingleton).

Location: A sign marks the northern trailhead on the east side of M-94 just south of Shingleton. There is no parking, but spaces are available east of the Tanglewood Restaurant and Antique Shop on M-28 in Shingleton less than a quarter mile north of the trail.

The multiuse Haywire Grade Trail stretches 32 miles and crosses the Upper Peninsula, south to north, from Intake Park in Manistique to Shingleton in Schoolcraft and Alger counties. The trail was Michigan’s first rail trail. The trail runs along the old Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad and has since been reclassified as a year-round, multiuse trail – the first in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Manistique Boardwalk Map
Haywire grade Trail Map

Manistique Boardwalk
Haywire 50th Anniversary

Manistique Boardwalk
Intake Park - Manistique

More Than 50 Years of fun: The Haywire Grade

By Doug Donnelly
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan’s first rail trail turned 50 years old in 2020. Some residents who live near the Haywire Grade, a multi-use trail that crosses the Upper Peninsula north to south from Shingleton to Manistique, are glad the trail is getting the recognition it deserves.

“I’d say over the past four years, Michigan has truly started to recognize the significance of the Haywire,” said Gerry Reese, who has owned property near the trail for nearly 30 years and is a part of the Schoolcraft County Motorized Trail Association, during the trail’s golden anniversary celebration. The yearlong celebration of the Haywire Grade kicked off in February 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic limited the celebration of the trail’s history, it’s still something to be celebrated.

“There are still some residents in the area who are unaware of the trail’s rich history. We want to change that,” said Reese.


With more than 2,600 miles logged, Michigan has converted more miles of abandoned railroad corridor into trails than any other state. This conversion is done through a process called rail banking. The trails, some paved and some not, are used for recreation purposes, but may be recalled to railroad service and the recreation trails rerouted should the need arise.

The first rail-trail in Michigan was the Haywire Grade in Schoolcraft and Alger counties. Established in 1970, two years after the Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad ceased operation, the Haywire Grade runs 32 miles. Originally planned for seasonal snowmobile use, the Haywire has since become a popular year-round multi-use trail.

“People have long used the trail for a variety of activities,” Reese said. “It was very common to see an equestrian rider, and at the same time someone walking. It’s truly a multi-use trail.”

The trail’s historical significance dates to the late 1800s. The Manistique and Northwestern Railroad began operation in 1898 and reorganized as the Manistique and Lake Superior in 1909. The railroad served the logging industry and fostered settlement in the region. Many of the trees harvested from the area were sent to Illinois to help rebuild after the Great Chicago Fire.


Stories like this are being permanently memorialized through a series of 11 historical interpretive kiosks installed along the trail during the golden anniversary celebration. The kiosks themselves are part of that history, as they were fabricated with steel from Upper Peninsula railroad tracks and cedar logs grown in the region. Each kiosk also contains metal art depicting a train engine and Manistique and Lake Superior railroad cars. “We designed the kiosks to have that rustic flavor, but also the railroad and the logging camp flavor,” Reese said.

As Michigan’s heritage trail coordinator, Dan Spegel works on projects like this one to help shed light on some amazing history around Michigan’s 13,000 miles of state-designated trails. Since 2015, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Michigan History Center has helped communities around the state create a deeper sense and experience of “place” for trail users through its Heritage Trails Program. “Heritage trails connect people with the natural and cultural heritage of the landscape they are passing through,” Spegel said.

Manistique Boardwalk Map
Haywire grade Trail

Manistique Boardwalk
Pure Michigan Trail

Manistique Boardwalk
Hiawatha Forest Signs

Pure Michigan

In February 2020, the Haywire Grade reached another significant milestone when it was designated one of three new Pure Michigan Trails. According to Pure Michigan officials, designated Pure Michigan Trails provide access to national, state or regional scenic resources of high quality and splendor, and articulate the natural essence of Michigan.

“Michigan is known for having thousands of miles of hiking, biking and kayaking trails, but the trails and communities that receive this designation are truly outstanding and embody what Pure Michigan is all about,” said David Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan. “We are pleased to partner with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to honor these trails and trail towns.”

To qualify as one of the trails, routes may be a single trail or combination of trails and must be more than a mile in length, open to the public and substantially completed. The trails and towns receiving Pure Michigan designations comprise some of the elite Michigan trail experiences. They promote healthy lifestyles, conserve natural and cultural resources in the area, display iconic signage, increase awareness of trails for tourism and provide a catalyst for economic activity in their associated communities.

Those qualities, officials say, fit the Haywire Grade perfectly. Reese said the Pure Michigan designation and recognition the Haywire Grade is receiving are great for the region and the state. “It’s exciting for everybody,” he said. “This has been building momentum for years.”

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