It’s Time to Get Outside

I’ve been waiting for this list for a long time. My family lives in the city of Grand Rapids. With a wee postage stamp yard. My girls love walking to the playgrounds near our house but I yearn for more. I want to be in the woods. To watch them run along a creek, looking for frogs. To listen to the birds and watch more than just the brown oak leaves in our yard fall from the trees in autumn.

I want to be in the woods but not necessarily have to load up the hiking backpack or worry about one of my kids tiring out two miles from the car. 

There are so many places around Grand Rapids to get kids into nature that don’t require a big time commitment! Thanks to recommendations from local parents, I am armed with a list of great places to take my girls the next time we want to play outside of our little yard. 

13 Places for Kid-Friendly Nature Walks

1.) Warren Townsend Park
  • 8280 6 Mile Rd NE, Cannonsburg, MI 49317
  • Townsend Park boasts several nature trails for hiking or walking, and has a playground to boot.

RELATED: Rent a Vintage Local Lodge for Your Next Party

2.) Fallasburg Park
  • 1124 Fallasburg Rd, Lowell, MI 49331
  • The Flat River runs right through this sprawling park, which includes part of the North Country National Trail.
3.) Provin Trails Park
  • 2900 4 Mile Rd, Grand Rapids Twp, MI 49525
  • According to their website, “The trails offer a challenging walk and an advanced trail for cross country skiers.” 
4.) Aman Park
  • 0-1859 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534
  • “Aman Park has been preserved as a natural area with hiking and cross-country ski trails.  The park has interpretive signs and six self-guided trails ranging from 0.8 miles to 1.5 mile loops. Aman is considered a large urban park, but is outside the City of Grand Rapids city limits.” (source: website)
5.) Hudsonville Nature Center
  • 2700 New Holland St, Hudsonville, MI 49426
  • The Nature Center is 76 acres of naturalists’ delight. Here you’ll find wetlands, prairies, wildflowers and more.
  • You can get free guided hiking tours from the city’s Master Naturalist from spring through fall.
6.) Grand River Ravines
  • 3991 Fillmore St, Jenison, MI 49428
  • Enjoy a little fishing after your hike at Grand River Ravines. This is a very scenic 168-acre park with heavily wooded areas and great views of the Grand River.

RELATED: 7 Fishing Holes For Kids Around Grand Rapids

7.) Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve
  • 1750 East Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
  • This preserve has one mile of hiking trail on its 40 acres. You are invited to taken in the beauty of the woods here, go birding or observe the changing seasons. 
  • Afterward, stop at the Bunker Interpretive Center to “check out our seasonal educational displays, view some Michigan frogs and turtles up close, read a storybook or two, star in your own puppet show, and visit with our friendly and knowledgeable staff.” (source: website)
8.) Ideal Park
  • 5900 Crippen, Wyoming, MI 49548
  • With over 90 acres to roam and fish in the creek, you could easily spend a whole afternoon here.
9.) Knapp Valley Forest Park
  • 4255 Knapp Valley, Grand Rapids Twp, MI 49525
  • This undeveloped park of over 100 acres boasts many walking trails.
10.) Luton Park
  • 6125 Kies Street, Rockford, MI 49341
  • Luton Park has nearly 10 miles of interconnected trails! You get all the delights of the woods and prairie as well as three crossings over Rum Creek.
  • Warning: You won’t be alone at this park! Cyclists, joggers, cross country skiers and more utilize this very active trail system.

RELATED: Looking for a broader area of hiking trails? Check out Excellent Hiking Destinations for West Michigan Kids.

11.) Hager Park
  • 8134 28th St, Jenison, MI 49428
  • Hager Park boasts miles of trails of varying lengths with many access points.
12.) Linus Palmer Park
  • 1275 52nd St SW, Wyoming, MI 49509
  • Enjoy paved paths, hiking trails or the boardwalk that follows Buck Creek.
13.) Buck Creek Nature Preserve
  • 4269 Burlingame, Wyoming, MI 49548
  • This preserve is over 35 acres of natural beauty that can be found along their boardwalk or walking trail. Buck Creek also offers fishing and a nature building.

BONUS Kid-Friendly Hike

Blandford Nature Center
  • 1715 Hillburn Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • Blandford Nature Center is home to 8 trails, spanning over 4 miles, ranging from paved, to mulched, to rustic.
  • With 143 acres, Blandford offers many other options to visitors, including their wildlife education center, farm, historic village, and visitor center.

Where do you like to explore nature in West Michigan?


By | 2017-06-14T15:50:03+00:00 October 6th, 2014|Categories: General, Play Fun, Travel Grand Rapids Tips for Families|Tags: |4 Comments

About the Author:

April H
April is a stay-at-home-working-mom hybrid who balances her time between managing a household and using her editor brain to find all the typos in her friends’ emails. In her occasional free time she enjoys reading, quilting, antiquing and photography. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and three children.


  1. Jennifer October 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    How in the world is Blandford Nature Center not on this list?! They’ve been welcoming kids for more than 40 years. I enjoyed it as a kid and I’ve enjoyed taking my own kids there for 20. They even have a special area for kids to engage in nature play.

    • molly September 27, 2016 at 8:33 am - Reply

      Maybe because you have to pay to get in.

  2. Andrea October 7, 2014 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Ideal Park is closed down due to the tornado touched down in July. Every tree fell and has not been cleaned up yet.

    • April H
      April H October 7, 2014 at 8:06 am - Reply

      Still, Andrea?!?? Thank you for sharing that. I had heard word of this but hoped it was cleaned up by now. So sad.

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