This trail can be accessed from the entrance road. Find the trailhead just west of the camp office. There is no longer a sign, but you will find a wide path behind the first trailer site. Walk south in a wooded band with a campground loop on your left and a small marshy creek on your right. There are several foot bridges, but also some damp areas to cross.
Local community efforts have added a nice nature walk loop which leaves the trail here on a bridge to your right, with benches for resting. You can walk this loop in just a couple of minutes and return to the main trail over the same bridge. (needs clearing, but still walkable)
About 6 minutes from the trailhead you will make a turn left (east) to stay on city property. There is a wide cut which continues straight into the woods, but this is private property. Follow this boundary with the Old Engine Club display area on your left, and a fence line on your right for 3 minutes. You will climb up a little rise.
Turn left to follow the wooded edge at the top of the rise. The former loop is obliterated, but you can just walk around the edges of the mowed area and explore the paths that lead to the disc golf fairways.
Comment, December 2002. Yup I've hiked that thing! It's so much fun! I loved the fish though! I caught a lot but never keep them to eat them!! Have fun and it's the best place to go.
Access- Parking on the east side of Scottville Road- enter south of the river. Loop drives closed in winter, but plenty of parking spaces available anyway.
Restrictions- No swimming in river- dangerous current. No bikes on trail. "Absolutely no motorized vehicles."
Distance and time- Wander as long as you wish
Trail Markers- are sporadic, but may be 4x4 posts cut at an angle on the tops and in some places red square markers have been added but not along the entire route. In some places, especially the beginning there are now white diamonds too.
Treadway- saturated and packed soil with some forest litter in wooded areas. Definitely muddy at certain times of year. Footing is stable, but plan on wet shoes.
Marking- not adequate
Ecosystem- Mixed hardwood forest and mowed park
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- April 2021
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This is a wonderful wander along the Pere Marquette River- just wear boots or "mud shoes" and enjoy! You can park on either the east or west side of the river, but this description is written from the east side, to make the walk as long as possible. Subtract about 6 minutes (about 1/4 mile) if you park on the boat ramp side.
Leaving the parking area follow a paved path which angles to the bridge past a small gazebo. Cross carefully on the bridge, there is no real sidewalk and cars do not travel slowly on this road. Just past the guardrail, turn left on the grass. You will be between the river and a marshy area, and there are two wooden bridges to get you across small creeks. In 6 minutes you reach the boat ramp. Continue on the grass and pass the toe of a bluff which comes right down to the river at the end of the parking area. Stay at the river's edge. In about 4 minutes the trail will enter some bushes, but is still easy to follow. You are now walking almost directly south, as the river has turned in that direction. In another 2 minutes the toe of another bluff comes near the river again and a power line crosses the river here. You will begin turning west again. 2 more minutes will bring you to a small creek. You have come about 1/2 mile. There have been times of high water when this was as far as I could walk without choosing to get significantly wet. But in drier times it's only about 4 inches deep and you can easily cross on sticks laid across it, and only get muddy. The banks now are very far back from the river. Pass through another area of bushes and near the 3/4 mile point after 7 more minutes you will come to a real creek. You can also see an arm of the river on the far side. This creek can be crossed when the water is low by walking upstream about 20 paces from the river edge to a shallower spot. If the water is deep, this may be a good place to turn back. After this the river begins to braid, and you will see islands. If you were able to pass the last creek, after the second such island you will come to the remains of what appears to be a former foot bridge across the river. Just past this, and 6 minutes after the last creek, there is a significant creek. I would suggest stopping here. I have crossed this when the water was low, but there is no easy walking beyond this point.
For those of you (like me) who prefer loops rather than backtracking... it can be done when the water is very low. It is possible to turn right and reach the bluffs, climb them and follow their edge back to the boat ramp area. This is not a trail by any means. If the water is not very low this should not be attempted when you are alone. There are areas of deep, loose mud. I have sunk as deep as my thighs, and would not have been able to get out without help.
Access- Parking on the east side of Scottville Road- enter south of the river. Loop drives closed in winter, but plenty of spaces available anyway. Parking also on west side of river- enter north of the bridge
Restrictions- No swimming in river- dangerous current.
Distance and time- 1 mile, about 30 minutes but since it is not a loop, you would need a full hour to walk to the "end" and back. Note that the entire distance can be easily walked only when the water level is low. Mileages were measured on a topographic map and verified by pacing, at which I am fairly accurate.
Trail Markers- none
Treadway- paved on the east side of the bridge, then grass, then packed soil after leaving the boat ramp area, but often muddy- this is in a swamp after all. There are small creeks where you will at least get muddy feet
Marking- even with no markers or blazes the path is easy to follow. Deer and fishermen keep it well-used, and you just follow the river. You would have to be seriously disoriented to get lost.
Ecosystem- Botttomland hardwood swamp with steep bluffs at various distances from the river. You can see turtlehead, lizard tail, cardinal flower, or skunk cabbage depending on the time of year. I've often seen kingfishers here.
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- September 2005
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Skiing- The Bottomland Trail is marked for skiing. Not groomed.
Boat Launch- paved ramp with a dock, parking for 10-15 vehicles with trailers, on west side of Scottville Road.
Distance and time- 12 miles to next downstream take-out, about 4.5 hours float time to Old US 31 Bridge south of Ludington
Fishing- The Pere Marquette is known for steelhead and salmon runs, and brown/rainbow trout. Fly fishing is popular too.
Picnic Area- There are scattered picnic tables on both sides of the river, most on the east; small gazebo on the east, larger pavillion farther in on the east near latrines; two picnic tables in the woods near the beginning of the Bottomland Trail.
Camping- commercially operated campground here (City of Scottville) with full hook ups, swimming pool, shower house. See campground closeup map at their web site.
Playground- Swings, toddler swings, slide, 2 climbers with slides, spring riding animals, merry-go-round, sand box and a shaded bench for caregivers. Located at the far east edge of the campground loop. Day users will need to walk a short way to reach the area.
Disc Golf- There is a full disc golf course with marked tees.
Rest Rooms and Potable Water
Restrooms- Full rest room in summer, latrine open year round
Potable Water- Faucets turned on in summer.
Additional Facilities- Phone, vending machine. Pool for use of registered campers. Boat access ramp on west side of Scottville Rd. Home of the Old Engine Club featuring a show every August.
Seasonality- no water in winter, driveway is closed, but plenty of parking outside of the cable gate.
Maintained by- City of Scottville 105 N. Main Scottville, MI 49454 231-757-4729 in season reach the park directly 231-757-2429
More- Info about Scottville from InfoMI.com with several pictures.
Here's the Mason County Chamber of Commerce page and a picture of Riverside Park The Pere Marquette is a designated Wild and Scenic Waterway between The Forks and Custer Bridge. If you wish to canoe on that portion of the Pere Marquette River you need a permit between May 15 and September 10. There are special regulations which apply. Private watercraft permits may be reserved by calling 1-231-745-4631. Some of the landings along the river require a Recreation Fee sticker to park there (self-pay tubes are available for daily passes, yearly passes may be purchased at a Ranger Station). See Manistee National Forest Recreation Fees
There are some logs on display at the park with logmarks from the lumbering era. Scroll down this page to see samples of some Michigan Logmarks
Scottville is located at the intersection of US Highways 10 and 31. Turn south at the stoplight on Main St. in Scottville and go about 1 mile to the river. The entrance to the park is on the east side of the road, south side of the river. The entrance to the boat launch area is on the west side of the road, north side of the river.