Read this Before You Hike the Trails at Cascade Peace Park
Cascade Peace Park is home to a beautiful closed-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. If you walk the perimeter of the trail system, you’ll clock close to three miles. We often do this route in about an hour with no kids along and moving at a steady clip.
The main trail loop is around 2 miles long, with plenty of offshoots you can take to add to the main loop. It’s a great place to see fall color, too!
Read on to leran how to find the secret creek – and how to avoid the biggest challenge people face when first visiting Cascade Peace Park.
Cascade Peace Park
8900 Grand River Dr SE Ada, MI 49301
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 with areas of sand, washouts and roots.
Time of Year Accessible: Open year round.
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Coming at nearly 200 acres in size, the park is heavily wooded and is a great place to treat yourself to a long, shaded walk under towering oak, maple, and cherry trees.
Trails take you up some big hills that will be sure to get your heart pumping. The hills here are even steeper than those you’ll find on a Seidman Park hike.
There are Two Trailheads at Cascade Park
Access the Cascade Park trails using one of two trailheads: the Bolt Drive entrance, or the parking area on Grand River Drive (just down the way from Ada Park.)
No matter which trailhead you choose, both start with an uphill climb.
If you park at the Bolt Ave entrance, you’ll find the initial incline is a fun challenge (especially if you happen to be babywearing a toddler. It also offers some excellent views at the highest points. A bench perched near the top overlooks much of the surrounding area.
We hike here often. On our most recent visit, there were quite a few cars in the parking lot but we didn’t pass that many other hikers during our stay. We saw the most people at the trailhead.
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.
WARNING: The Trail Maps Can Be Confusing
There are many trail maps marking the pathways at Cascade Peace Park – and they are well placed.
But that doesn’t translate into helpful wayfinding for many visitors. Many first time visitors have reported getting turned around at the Peace Park and spending much longer hiking than anticipated. For this reason, we suggest bringing extra water and a GPS equipped phone or compass to help you find your way.
One trick to knowing where you are is to read the key on the map.
The “You are Here” dot has a little triangle decal that points in the direction you are facing.
If you overlook this fact you can easily become disoriented because there are several junctions where the green trail meets up. Look on the map and find the areas where 3 green trails intersect. It’s junctions like this that cause the most confusion.
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.
Locate the Bench on the Yellow Trail to Find the Secret Creek
You can hike for years at Cascade Peace Park and never realize that a creek runs through its borders. That’s because, to access the creek, you have to go down a steep hill on an unmarked side trail.
Look for the bench on the yellow trail and you’re right next to the side trail that’ll take you to the creek.
Wind your way down the steep hill and have fun exploring the creek. Be adventurous and splash around – it’s a fun secret destination that not many people know about.
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.