The leaves are altering, the temperatures are dipping, and Halloween costumes are popping up on grocery retailer cabinets. It’s shaping up to be one other stunning fall in West Michigan! One of one of the best ways to take benefit of the autumn climate is to get off the couch, off the pavement, and possibly even off the grid. Thankfully in Grand Rapids, we have no shortage of hiking trails just minutes from downtown. If ghost cities, bayous, hidden beaches, and the longest trail in America pique your interest, take a while this season to verify out these 15 hiking trails near Grand Rapids you want to explore:
Image through @cannon00 | Instagram
Aman Parkis a type of locations that appear to magnify no matter season it is. In the spring, the scent of budding flowers is almost intoxicating. In summer, the quantity of lush greenery is staggering. In autumn, the fall colours are overwhelmingly vivid. In winter, snow sticks to the trees and the banks of Sand Creek in a means solely Robert Frost could describe.
Located simply seven miles west of Grand Rapids, Aman Park options 339 acres of wooded bottomland and towering bluffs. A meandering trail community allows hikers to observe numerous ecosystems all whereas feeling far removed from the town.
Image by way of @great.escape.match | Instagram
Become one with the forest on Grand Rapids’ hilly northeast aspect.Knapp Valley Forest’s 87 acres of secluded trails present the proper daily dose of nature for anybody looking for a fast hike near town. Kent County Parks has accomplished an excellent job preserving this quiet tract undeveloped, and underneath the radar.
One of the best overlooks within the Grand Rapids space may be found atCrahen Valley Park, the place biking and hiking trails traverse the hilly terrain simply northeast of city. You would possibly be capable of see farther within the winter, when the leaves are off the timber, but the fall color explosion is tough to beat. The trail heads down a steep bank into Crahen Valley. You’re free to roam the quite a few ravines, creeks, ponds, and prairies, earlier than coming again up on the opposite aspect. As of now, Crahen Valley is usually undeveloped, but there arebig plans for the lengthy run. This includes a snowboarding hill, paved bike paths, and a fat-tire mountain bike trail. Until that happens, hikers are free to explore this unspoiled valley undisturbed.
Image by way of @cannon00 | Instagram
Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things,” inscribed on a big boulder, makes for a romantic first impression as one enters the wooded sanctuary ofCascade Peace Park. Topping out at virtually 200 acres, there’s lots to discover alongside the wooded ravines of the Grand River valley. Four miles of trails wind via forest glades, spacious meadows, and leafy views of the river down below.
Image by way of @meghan.worley | @Instagram
Don’t let the name scare you away; the one leopards you’ll discover in Caledonia’sLepard Preserveare of the amphibious kind. It’s a smaller park that usually gets ignored. If you’ve ever driven south on the East Beltline and observed a stretch of woods gilded in October gold, likelihood is you’ve peered into the enchanting Lepard Preserve. A brief loop follows a seasonal creek bed through deciduous trees and gently sloped ravines. When you get your fill of exploring, head down the highway toEB Coffee & Pub, a mixture espresso shop/brewery for some après-hike beverages.
Image via @puremichiganguy | Instagram
On the southwest aspect of Grand Rapids,Grand River Parkhas three miles of trails that showcase a wide range of scenery. The low-lying, riverside paths provide nice views of the river, wetlands, and meadows blooming with wildflowers. Head further in, and you’ll find the higher elevation trails, the place you will get an summary of the entire park through the fall foliage. The westernmost hiking trails give hikers a style of “ravine nation,” a local ecosystem of steep riverbank bluffs that line the Grand from Jenison all the method in which up past Allendale.
Image via @puremichiganguy | Instagram
Just a pair miles downstream from Grand River Park, the ravines attain their most dramatic depths at the aptly namedGrand Ravines Park. This is considered one of the most magical places to take in fall colors in West Michigan. The trails here embody long, steep hiking trails to the heart of the ravines, a hundred feet beneath the bluffs’ sharply outlined edges. Hiking the ravines throughout or after a heavy rainstorm is especially satisfying, as the trickling creeks flip into torrents and temporary waterfalls.
Ottawa County Parks is fully invested in making Grand Ravines accessible for everyone, includingoff-leash dogsand these in wheelchairs. In addition to the dog park and paved trails, Grand Ravines also features a lined bridge, a kayak launch, and a 70-foot high suspension bridge. There’s always a brand new method to discover Grand Ravines!
If you’re able to take your hiking recreation to the subsequent stage,Provin Trails are your provin’ grounds. The hills are steep, the hiking trails are sandy, and the routes are quite a few. If you’re gearing up for an extended day-hike, a giant backpacking expedition, or if you’re attempting snowshoes for the primary time, a couple of laps at Provin Trails may be simply what you want to test your readiness. The sandy, hilly terrain is a perfect match for the wilderness that awaits in Northern Michigan. It’s all proper right here on Grand Rapids’ northeast side. After your hike, reward yourself with some homemade cider or wine fromRobinette’s Apple Haus, which is adjacent to the park.
Image via @puremichiganguy | Instagram
If you didn’t assume backpacking was potential in Kent County, you’d be incorrect. Did you know that the longest trail in the United States travels right through Grand Rapids’ backyard? TheNorth Country National Scenic Trailis over 4,600 miles long—more than twice the length of the Appalachian—showcasing America’s northern tier of states from North Dakota to Vermont. It’s loopy to assume that whereas on a walk in West Michigan’s woods, you’re on the identical trail that stretches from the Missouri River badlands to the Appalachian Mountains. In addition, the NCT’snational headquartersare positioned right right here in Lowell, MI!
Locally, the trail meanders through the Rogue River, Lowell, Middleville, and Barry State Game Areas, in addition to a selection of Kent County Parks. In addition to numerous personal campgrounds adjoining to the trail, you could also camp at no cost in Game Areas between September 10 and May 15.Click hereto see a map of the NCT’s route throughout West Michigan.
Another Kent County Park gem,Seidman Parkshowcases a plethora of habitats alongside its in depth trail system. Boardwalk trails traverse wetlands and paved hiking trails line the park’s perimeter, however the majority of pathways are natural-surfaced hiking trails. Boulder-strewn Honey Creek surges by way of the southern portion of the park. The hilly northern half hosts sweeping meadows, towering forests, and even an inland sand dune. The North Country Trail meanders by way of Seidman’s 435 acres. There’s at all times an opportunity you would possibly stumble across a troupe of backpackers during their 4,600-mile journey.
For those who take pleasure in a spookier walk in the woods as Halloween nears, Seidman also delivers, as it’sreputed to be hauntedby the ghost of the “Ada Witch.” Maybe do a double-take when trying over your shoulder!
Image via @alyssamcelheny | Instagram
Yankee Springsis certainly one of GR’s nearest units in the Michigan State Park system, and the designation is well-deserved. There isn’t much you can’tdo at Yankee Springs. The 5,200-acre park is loaded with options for camping, snowboarding, fishing, horseback using, kayaking, paddleboarding, mountain biking, and backpacking. The park contains several miles of Gun Lake shoreline, extensively considered one of the best recreation lakes in southern Michigan. It additionally has some of the highest elevation in the area. The North Country Trail weaves via all of it, passing places like McDonald Lake, Graves Hill, Devil’s Soup Bowl, and Turner Creek.
Image via @puremichiganguy | Instagram
If you haven’t explored West Michigan’s bayou country but, you’re in for a deal with. The Grand River widens and slows as it nears Lake Michigan, creating brackish backwater lakes, the best habitat for turtles, herons, and bluegill. These bayous are sometimes given colourful names, like Jubb, Dermo, Ripps, and Lloyd. You can find them on both aspect of the river as far upstream as Allendale.Eastmanville Bayouis one of many more developed parks, with trails working the narrow ridge of land between the bayou and the river. You’ll be transported straight into the southern Louisiana swampland, without having to watch out for alligators!
Pro tip: Wait till winter, when the mosquitos have died off and the ice is thick enough. You can hike back on the frozen bayou for a singular perspective.
Image through @em_jo_mo | Instagram
As you head out nearer to the lakeshore, you’ll discover that wind and sand are the first factors that form the land. This is true atHemlock Crossingin West Olive, where you’ll discover two things: The trails turn out to be sandy and hilly, very like the dunes that rise out of Lake Michigan, and likewise the Pigeon River begins to wind, widen, and sluggish down—more bayou country. The trails are nicely marked and scenic. You can supplement your hike with a visit to Ottawa County’sNature Education Center, situated on web site. They are open year-round and are happy to hire a pair of snowshoes for anybody seeking to dabble in winter hiking.
Image by way of @ottawacountyparks | Instagram
Thirty miles west of Grand Rapids you’ll find the golden sunset shores of Lake Michigan, nicknamed the ‘Gold Coast’ for a good reason. The lakeshore is filled with hidden gems likeRosy Mound, a park with a one-mile trail that leads back to a hidden seashore. It’s a short hike, however a mile over sand dunes is concerning the hardest mile there might be, so don’t underestimate the trail.
The sweeping view of Lake Michigan is well definitely value the effort. Depending on the lake temperature, the lakeshore can both be the primary place or final place to expertise fall colour changes. This makes a visit to Rosy Mound feel type of like a “bonus” week of peak colour out of season. Whether you’re excessive up on the dunes or down on the waterline, sunsets at the Mound are all the time rosy.
Image by way of @puremichiganguy | Instagram
A little further south,Saugatuck Dunesfeatures a windswept, wilderness-like haven for hikers in search of that “off-the-grid” feeling. Along with the North Country Trail, Saugatuck Dunes is one other local space the place you’ll find a way to really rack up the distance. The park options thirteen miles of trails, not counting the lakeshore.
Lake Michigan has been high lately. This has created some spectacular sand cliffs alongside the shore, some larger than ten toes. If that’s not indicative sufficient of nature’s power, think about the fact thatMichigan’s most famous ghost townwas once swallowed up by the very sand dunes on which you tread, buried a pair hundred toes below the surface of the hiking trails.
The woods are beautiful and the weather’s even better. Get out on these lovely hiking trails and explore!
[av_heading heading=’About the Author’ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” av_uid=’av-19swea5′ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]
Nick Meekhof graduated from Calvin College with a major in writing and a minor in geography. A farmer for the first twenty-three years of his life, Nick presently works for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. When he’s not traversing the state conducting orchard inspections, he could be found exploring the rivers, forests, and small towns all throughout the Great Lakes State. His present objectives embody kayaking 100 Michigan rivers, swimming in Lake Michigan throughout every month of the 12 months, and visiting as many Michigan breweries as potential.Follow Nick’s adventures on Instagram: @puremichiganguy