Dogs, no. I’m talking Multi Use Trails. We’ve got a bunch of these around Grand Rapids and if you don’t know them, you’re missing out. The grand-daddy of all is the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park. Stretching from Riverside Park in GR to Cadillac, it’s a gorgeous 90+ mile trail that's more than 60% paved. Overnighters can find campsites along the trail near Paris and an assortment of others if you’re willing to go off trail a bit. Favorite trip: Get someone to drop you off in Cadillac and ride the 90 miles back to GR in one day (slightly downhill). A 35mm tire width is ideal but you can do it on skinnier tires too. The gravel is mostly hard packed and between GR and Sand Lake it’s all pavement. I could devote a whole blog entry to this trail - another time.
The White Pine ties it’s southern end to Kent Trails via Riverside Park and the Seward Bike Path in Grand Rapids. That connection can get you to Millenium Park, Jenison, Grandville and even Byron Center by trail if you negotiate a bike lane or two. The Paul Henry Trail is also accessible with some minimal road contact. If you don’t mind a few miles of road, you can get nearly anywhere in the GR Metro area. Connector trails like the Standale Connector, Plaster Creek, M6 Trail, Grand River Edges and Oxford Street really make getting around fun. Almost forgot but Forest Hills has a trail network too.
Another major trail for GR is the Musketawa trail. You can pick it up less than 2 miles from the White Pine’s southern end as it now begins at West River Drive just north of the Deltaplex. From that point you can ride pavement all the way to Muskegon. Add a mile of bike lanes and you can get to the Laketon Trail, then the Lakeshore Trail which will carry you all the way to Pere Marquette Beach. In the summer, it makes a great day tour, including swimming and lunch before riding back to GR. That’s about 90 miles round trip but it’s basically flat. Plus there’s a great Taco truck in Conklin and a Pub on Sundays when the truck’s not there.
Some newer notable trails are the Spoonville Bridge Trail and the Explorer trail near Nunica. Both are relatively short at the present but are a lot of fun to ride. Easiest bike access is to take Maple Island south from the Musketawa trail, passing through Nunica, After the panoramic Spoonville river crossing, follow the Explorers trail back east towards 68th. You can ride roads with good shoulders until you cross the river again at Eastmanville and return on Leonard Street.
The Fred Meijer Heartland trail, the Clinton-Ionia-Shiawasee and the Kal-Haven each take a bit of riding to get to but are all outstanding trails. There are a lot more throughout West Michigan. Don’t be afraid to ride the gravel ones - it's mostly well packed and pleasant. Some riders actually prefer it. GravelMap.com is website for just gravel roads & trails. Google maps for cycling is a great resource too. Maybe even better is West Michigan Trails & Greenways magazine. It’s full of trail maps and well worth the price. You can purchase a copy at most bike shops. There are ice cream stops, restaurants, cafes and breweries just off the trail and waiting. Don’t miss that Taco truck in Conklin!
Coming soon: A list of our mountain bike trails. We’re living in a great place for bicycles of all types