Watershed Wanderings: Stearns Preserve + Heartland Trail

Watershed Wanderings is a short video series made to inspire outdoor adventure in the Chippewa River Watershed. Produced by Chippewa Watershed Conservancy (CWC), the video series highlights nearby outdoor recreational opportunities on land and water. At CWC, we believe there is ample opportunity for outdoor adventure in the Central Michigan region. The goal of Watershed Wanderings is to connect people to publicly-accessible outdoor recreation opportunities and provide trip details such as gear recommendations, directions to parks and nature preserves and adventure itineraries.

Watershed Wanderings: Stearns Preserve + Heartland Trail

Chippewa Watershed Conservancy’s Stearns Preserve is a 14-acre gem adjacent to the small community of Riverdale in northern Gratiot County. It protects two sides of the Pine River including 1,400 feet of scenic undeveloped riparian corridor. A short trail to the river provides access to the Pine for fishing, birding and paddling. The preserve is next to the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail. There is a parking lot with a bathroom and informational kiosk available to visitors of Stearns Preserve and the Heartland Trail. The Heartland trail is wide and paved and extends from Greenville to Alma with stops in communities in between such as Stanton, Edmore, Vestaburg and Riverdale. It is open to cycling, hiking, trail running, dog walking and other non-motorized activities.

Trip Itinerary

1. Drive to the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail parking area in Riverdale, MI. Directions: bit.ly/Heartland-Trail
2. Explore CWC’s Stearns Preserve north of the parking area.
3. Cycle to Edmore, MI or Alma, MI via the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail from the parking area.

Estimated Time

1. Exploring Stearns Preserve — 20 minutes
2. Cycling to Edmore, MI from Riverdale, MI — 21.4 miles round trip — 1.5-2.5 hours total
3. Cycling to Alma, MI from Riverdale, MI — 18.2 miles round trip — 1.5-2.5 hours total

Recommended Gear

1. Hiking boots or sturdy shoes
2. Bicycle and helmet
3. Bug spray and sunscreen
4. Eye protection
5. Athletic wear, preferably moisture-wicking material shorts/shirt
6. Water and a small snack