Last weekend, the Friends of the Musketawa Trail hosted the Gold Spike Trail Tour. The biennial event covered the entire Musketawa Trail, running from Marne to Muskegon, and connected with the Fred Meijer Pioneer Trail in Grand Rapids to the east.

A steady wind and the threat of rain didn't keep 130+ bicyclists from taking the non-competitive ride on May 28, 2016. All riders started with registration at Meijer between 8AM and 10AM.

This was my first time on the Gold Spike Trail Tour. I arrived at 8AM. Check-in went quickly and I was off with the early rush by 8:10AM.

Riders were welcome to turn around at any point. SAG (support and gear) stations were located at the following turnaround points: Marne (10K), Conklin (20.5K), Ravenna (30K) and Muskegon (50K). Wristbands passed out at registration allowed riders to enjoy drinks, fruit, donuts, granola bars and other snacks at the four stops. At least one rider got help with a flat tire on the trail before continuing on her way.

Most on the Gold Spike Trail Tour turned around at one of the four stops making for a 20K, 41K, 60K or 100K ride. I went the full 100K, hitting a few quick rain showers just before Muskegon and a few big gusts of wind too. Fortunately, that was as bad as the weather would get.

You can always expect to see some wildlife and farm animals along the Musketawa Trail. Chipmunks seem to be especially fond of running right in front of you. Turtles were out this day too, but animals were a little quieter than usual possibly due to the weather.

The Musketawa Trail is 25 miles long with large parking areas at both the start and the finish in Marne and Muskegon. The trail is flat and quiet. Considering the distance, it does not cross many roads, and the roads it does cross are not heavy traffic areas.

The Fred Meijer Pioneer Trail, which started and finished the Gold Spike Trail Tour, has some hills. The east side runs through an industrial area and under I-96. The west side of the trail gets flatter and quieter as it heads to connect with the Musketawa Trail.

Both trails are well-maintained and paved the entire way. The Fred Meijer Pioneer Trail is an important connector with some challenging hills, while the Musketawa Trail offers the opportunity for a long, flat ride and is appropriate for all levels.

The Musketawa Trail is one of the best in the area.