The Cadillac Pathway is an 11.3-mile pathway with six loops on the pathways. The Cadillac Pathway is a multi-use, non-motorized recreation trail open for users year-round. The Pathway is on State-owned lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR manages state lands for many uses, including promoting sustainable healthy forests, improving wildlife habitat, and providing recreational trail opportunities. Maintenance of the trail is provided by a combination of DNR staff and volunteers from Friends of the Cadillac Pathway, and Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association (NMMBA).

Cadillac Pathway main path

In the summer biking and hiking are permitted and in the wintertime fat-tire bikes, snowshoers, and hikers are welcome. Pets are also welcome! Cross-country skiers will be happy with the groomed trail in the winter. We recommend that only cross country skiers use the main Cadillac Pathway to preserve the tracks for those two skinny longboards. What if you’re not a skier? Then you’ll want to check out their new Winter Sports Trail, open to all other users. If snow permits, the trails are groomed at least once a week.

Be Prepared

No matter what age you are it’s important that you do a little preparation for your hike before you set off. For participants to hike safely, it’s important to:

  • Stay hydrated – bring lots of water and if carrying traditional bottles of water is too much consider a water backpack
  • Wear a good pair of walking shoes
  • Wear layers to adjust for changes in weather – light clothes in the summer and warm clothes in the fall
  • Wear a sun hat and apply sunscreen
  • Bring along an emergency kit, which must contain:
  • A first aid kit
  • Food/water
  • A way to communicate in case you run into trouble (remember that cell phones don’t always get reception in the forest)
  • Know the trail and have a map in case you get lost
  • Have a safety plan – let someone know where you’re planning on going hiking, your route and when you’ll be back

Getting There

The primary parking lot and the trailhead are located just 5 miles northeast of downtown Cadillac. Head East on Boon Rd, off of Mitchell Street. Go 3.5 miles until the road hits a T, turn left and the lot is immediately on your right. 

The pavilion at the main Cadillac Pathway Trailhead

There are two lots at the trailhead. The first is concrete and has around 30 spots with one handicapped spot. Another lot features a pavilion with picnic tables under it on the east side of the lot. The second lot is gravel and can fit around 50 vehicles.

The Cadillac Pathway and the trailhead are owned by the state and the DNR manages the land. So, a recreation passport is required to access and can be purchased at Mitchell State Park or online for $16, or for $11 if purchased when renewing your license. The passport grants you access to more than 100 state parks and recreation areas and various other boating launches, campgrounds and trails. The money used to purchase recreation passports funds state parks and recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, trails, and boat launches, historic sites. Within our own community the money was used to build the Cadillac Lakeside Playscape on Lake Cadillac. Passports can be purchased at the lot and money is collected in a dropbox on-site.

The parking lot is connected directly to the trailhead.

Secondary Lot

Over the years locals have used the Career Tech Center (CTC) parking lot, but in the months September-May CTC asks visitors to not use this lot due to liability issues. Please honor their wishes and ensure that it can be used in the summer months going forward.

Brown pole barn at CTC parking lot

The lot is used for the Wexford-Missaukee CTC students and faculty. Just west of the corner of 36 Rd and Crosby Rd. sits the parking lot. Turn onto the furthest east parking lot and take an immediate right. A brown pole barn sits at the top of the hill of the parking lot. Park there and head up the hill to the left of the barn 100 yards (a football field) to enter the trail. The lot features 100’s of spots with handicapped spots on the property.

Where you enter the pathway from the CTC parking lot


Once You’re There

The path is nature’s floor. Dirt, grass, sand, and everything in between is what the material of the trail consists of. Tree roots are a prevalent obstacle, as well as other naturally occurring obstacles. Trail width also varies, ranging from 9 inches to 4 feet. There are plenty of hills to keep hikers and bikers on their toes. 

While there is one main trail that bobs and weaves across the property, there are many other side trails. The side trails are predominantly used for mountain and fat-tire bikes, as they are typically thinner-around 9 inches wide.

One of the more narrow biking side paths

Biking side path

Benches are on the path but scarcely spaced out across the trail. Signs are also located on the path with distances between posts and various ways to maneuver the trail. The number on the top is the sign you are at, and then the numbers underneath the map with arrows are to tell you what way the next sign is at. 

Here I am at sign 3. Sign 6 is to my left and sign 4 is to my right