Welcome to our Grand Rapids Trails series where we highlight destination trails all over West Michigan. This series is brought to you by Kent District Library, who encourages you to explore the outdoors with your family.

At KDL you can check out items like iPads, GoPros, Wi-Fi hotspots, and bikes. Plus, each branch offers a fun and educational play space for kids. The best part is that it’s all free!

Read this Before You Hike the Trails at Cascade Peace Park

The Scoop on Cascade Peace Park

Cascade Peace Park is home to a beautiful close-canopy forest that will have you escaping the hustle and bustle of the Grand Rapids Metro area in no time!

This densely wooded and hilly park has almost 4 miles of assorted trails in varying lengths. The main trail loop is around 2 miles with plenty of offshoots you can take to add-on to the main loop. 

The incline is a fun challenge (especially if you happen to be babywearing a toddler) and also offers some excellent views at the highest points. A bench perched near the top overlooks much of the surrounding area.

With many other parks and trails in the Cascade area, we found this trail to be quiet and mostly vacant.

  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate, with some hills.

  • Dogs Allowed? Yes, but they must be on a 6 foot leash.

  • Facilities: Port-a-potty at the Grand River parking lot only.

  • Stroller Friendly? I would pass–some trail sections are wide enough, but primarily hilly.

  • Time of Year Accessible: Open year round.

The main loop is a relatively wide path (you could potentially get a jogging stroller through the main loop), but there are many shorter, narrower trails that branch off of the main trail. It can feel confusing at times, but there are plenty of trail maps located around the park so you can’t ever get too lost.

This trail was blissfully quiet. We noticed every bird chirp and squirrel scurry. The dense canopy makes this a perfect habitat for owls, hawks, and warblers. We had a hard time spotting anything through all the foliage, but we certainly heard a few woodland friends along the way.

While I did not have the most cooperative hiking companions on this particular day, we did manage to find the iconic Cascade Peace Park boulder. The plaque on the boulder has the Wendell Berry poem The Peace of Wild Things inscribed on it:

“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

Berry is not only a poet, but also a farmer and an avid environmentalist. Finding this poem among the quiet of the surrounding forest gave me goosebumps!

When Nature Strikes a Chord…

Feel like being a “wild thing” amidst the peace of this park? The Kent District Library has you covered! Aside from books and other awesome technology resources, you can actually borrow a ukulele from your local library.

You read that correctly: you can borrow a musical instrument with your library card. How cool is the KDL?!

There are many benches located alongside these trails and it could be the perfect spot to compose a tune or two of your own. While the peace and quiet was nice, I would not have minded a local Trail Troubadour strumming a ukulele (and my kids would have loved it too).

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How to Get to Cascade Peace Park

Cascade Peace Park

8900 Grand River Dr SE, Ada, MI 49301

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About the Author:

Caitlin Malski
Caitlin is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys dancing in the kitchen, eating breakfast foods, and reading too many books at once. She is a coffee enthusiast and lover of Lake Michigan. She lives on a small hobby farm and vineyard in Grand Haven with her husband and two young kids.

One Comment

  1. Steph Sneller
    Steph Sneller July 9, 2018 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    we’ve had so much fun noodling around on KDL ukeleles this summer!

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