Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Biking Lansing, Michigan's River Trail

The Lansing River Trail runs through numerous parks and wetlands and woodlands as it traverses 13 miles along scenic riverbanks. It follows the Red Cedar River from Hagadom Road on the MSU campus border west to its confluence with the Grand River which it then follows  north through Lansing. A spur trail heads south from Potter Park through Shubell, Scott Woods, and Hawk Island County parks to end at E. Jolly Road.

The path is paved but has many sections that could use some repaving as root and frost heaves have made it bumpy, easy for hybrid and mountain bikes but also still acceptable for road bikes if you take it easy.  An interesting engineering trick builds the trail out over the water in sections where they couldn't acquire land, and these wooden boardwalks take you under highways and skirting out over the water, avoiding almost all road crossings.  The wooden decking on some bridges is old, so take it slow on them.

As you pass through Potters Park, you can stop and visit the zoo located there.  Also, a number of observation platforms are built out over the river for viewing and fishing.

Several nice woodlots are traversed and make you forget you are in the midst of a large metro area and campus community.

Where the Red Cedar and Grand Rivers meet, the trail travels north along the Grand River into downtown Lansing and is built over the water as seen below. The Impression 5 Science Center offers a planet walk along this trail segment. Just north of the downtown is the Lansing City Market which has been in operation since 1909 and which now has a newly rebuilt store.  Adado Riverfront Park, adjacent to the market, makes a great picnic spot, and you can leave the trail and explore the downtown and its amenities.  Various pieces of trail art also adorn the trail here.

To access the East Lansing trailhead, take Interstate 127 north to Exit 8 onto Kalamazoo Street. Turn right on E. Kalamazoo Street then turn right on S. Clippert Street; go right to access the trailhead.

To access the Turner Dodge Park trailhead, take Interstate 496 through Lansing. Take Exit 6 north on Martin Luther King Blvd. for 3 miles then turn right on N. Grand River Avenue. The trailhead in Dodge Park is 0.5 mile on the right.

You can also park at City Market, Hawk Island, Lot 56/Cesar Chavez Plaza, Maguire Park, Oakland Avenue lot, Potter Park, on Saginaw Street and at Turner Dodge.

For more info, here's the official webpage and here's a map of the trail.

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