The right path: Scenery, trails provide perfect backdrop for running Port Huron area

Marine City runners can enjoy moving along the water's edge while freighter-watching.
With five Great Lakes, thousands of inland lakes, forests, rivers, and a growing number of running groups in larger cities, Michigan is a great state for running. The Blue Water area is no exception, providing local runners with plenty of trails and running routes. Whether they are seeking solitude or a sense of community from group runs, local runners can explore the shores of Lake Huron and the St. Clair River, city streets, or inland parks and trails.

LEXINGTON

Runner can explore Lexington neighborhoods south of the harbor that provide sweeping views of Lake Huron.From its harbor to its lakeside streets, Lexington offers scenic routes for runners.

The harbor's breakwall might get a little too crowded for a run during busy times, but it has beautiful views of Lake Huron and the town. It is perfect for a leisurely run on a less crowded day.

Runners can head west from the harbor and connect with the six-mile bike trail from Lexington to Croswell that runs next to M-90. Runners also can explore neighborhoods south of the harbor that provide sweeping views of Lake Huron.

LAKEPORT STATE PARK

Lakeport State Park is 11 miles south of Lexington. In addition to campsites, the park has a short trail to a beach on Lake Huron, which Runners can find short trails at Lakeport State Park.would be perfect for a post-run swim in the summer, as well as a paved and flat road that connects and loops through the campsites. The road itself, not including the loops through the campsites, is only about a mile long, but runners can take several laps through the park to add miles to their runs.

WADHAMS TO AVOCA TRAIL 

The Wadhams to Avoca Trail covers more than 12 miles starting about four miles from downtown Port Huron on Griswold Road and ending on Avoca Road in Avoca. Heading northwest from Griswold Road, the trail is paved for more than five miles until McLain Road. The remainder of the trail is well-maintained crushed limestone.

The Wadhams to Avoca trail offers a great view from the Mill Creek TrestleThe trail has markers every quarter-mile and is flat, making it easy for runners to keep track of their mileage and run even paces without worrying about hills. The highlight of the trail is the Mill Creek Trestle, a 640-foot-long and 60-foot-high bridge with scenic views above Mill Creek. 

PINE RIVER NATURE CENTER

Pine River Nature Center in Goodells has more than three miles of hilly trails, some of which are quite challenging for an area of Michigan that is mostly flat. The trails pass through beautiful wetlands, prairies, and Pine River Nature Center in Goodells has more than three miles of hilly trails, some of which are quite challenging for an area of Michigan that is mostly flat.forest. After a run, runners can take part in outdoor education and recreational activities that the nature center offers.

COLUMBUS COUNTY PARK

Columbus County Park is a 411-acre park with a variety of trails that are perfect for running, especially for runners looking for some hills.

Columbus County Park has a variety of trails perfect for running, especially for runners looking for some hills.Devin Walker, a runner from Marysville, says, "My favorite place to run is Columbus County Park. I love it because the trails are scenic and there is decent elevation change compared to the relatively flat area we live in." The park's trails traverse wooded areas, open fields, and the banks of the Belle River. 

PORT HURON

Port Huron runners can traverse busy city streets, past beaches, and lighthouses, and along the St. Clair River on the Bridge to Bay Trail and Blue Water River Walk.

Misty Gunn does most of her short runs in Capac, but she often ventures into Port Huron.

"Right now, I really enjoy running in Port Huron. We keep a boat at the marina and there are so many different routes in Port Huron you can take," she says.

Brett Parent, store manager at Elite Feet shoe store in Port Huron, agrees. "Almost every route I love around the Blue Water Port Huron runners can traverse busy city streets, past beaches and lighthouses, and along the St. Clair River on the Bridge to Bay Trail and Blue Water River Walk.Area includes the waterfront, from Lake Huron to the St. Clair River," he says.

"Most of my years as a runner has brought me from Lakeside Beach to downtown along the water more times than I could count. The view never gets old, regardless of the season."

ST. CLAIR RIVER COMMUNITIES

Heading south along the St. Clair River, communities from Marysville to Algonac have riverside parks and boardwalks and quiet streets for running. Downtown St. Clair's Palmer Park has a quarter-mile boardwalk, plus plenty of quiet, sidewalk-lined streets. The privately funded BP Dome Petroleum Nature Trail in St. Clair offers local runners a 2.5-mile trail.

Runners in nearby Marine City can enjoy beautiful views of the St. Clair River on Main Street and Water Street. Water Street has several small parks on the water as well as the former Peche Island Lighthouse that now stands tall in Lighthouse Park.
Marvin Schmitz of St. Clair and his wife, Brandi Schmitz, founded the St. Clair Running Club in February 2018. Schmitz says,

Beauty on the boardwalk makes running through Marine City a breeze."St. Clair County has a lot to offer, from short, quick 5k or 10k routes to scenic half or full marathons. Even trails are an option. It's such a nice area with low elevation gains that makes it very attractive for runners."

The St. Clair Running Club recently completed one of the most unusual runs in the area—on water instead of land. "One of the routes that most definitely stands out is, last winter we ran up the frozen Pine River," says Schmitz. "That was a really cool experience, and you discover parts of St. Clair that you usually wouldn't see on a run."

Running clubs can help new runners explore the above routes or find new ones. Elite Feet has a run club that meets for a group run at 6 p.m. every Thursday at its Port Huron store. The St. Clair Running Club meets at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday in the Riverside Plaza in St. Clair, and Schmitz wants everyone to know they are welcome. 

"We gained over 200 members last year, but a lot of people are discouraged or intimidated by a running club, which is absolutely unfounded," he says. "Everybody needs to start somewhere, and there is not a more supportive and non-judgmental community than other runners." 
 
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