On November 1, we relocated back to Grand Rapids, Michigan to be near Diana’s mom. We are evaluating the situation and trying to make the best decision regarding where to spend the winter.
Our first week back, we have been fortunate to have had some great fall weather. For three consecutive days, we had temperatures in the low 70’s, and we took advantage of the sunshine and checked out the local rail trails. The Grand Rapids metro area is home to an extensive collection of recreational trails, and each year brings more miles of paths onto the region’s map.
On Monday, November 2, we drove to the southern terminus of Kent Trails in Byron Center. This asphalt pathway was paved in 1992, and is the oldest rail trail in the region. It runs on the rail bed of the defunct Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, which first ran on this portion of land in 1870. At its peak, the railroad ran from Cincinnati, Ohio to Mackinaw City, Michigan, and was the route that Ernest Hemmingway took on his excursions to Northern Michigan from Chicago.
A few miles north, the trail goes under M-6, otherwise known as the South Beltline or the Paul Henry Freeway. We purposely are not political on this blog, but Mr. Henry’s legacy bears mentioning. Paul Henry was a Republican U.S. Congressman who oversaw the same district that Gerald Ford held when he was a congressman. From that office, Ford moved into the vice-presidency and then the presidency. Mr. Henry was known to vote with his conscience, even if it meant that he went against the rest of his party and President Reagan, which was quite remarkable in such a heavily Republican district. We had the pleasure of meeting him as he passed us at an outdoor cafe in Grand Rapids, and he was a true gentleman who was well respected on both sides of the aisle. He ended up getting a brain tumor and passing at age 51. During his tenure, this much needed highway was in the planning stages.
On Tuesday, we rode on the northern portion of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail. This particular trail is still under development, and runs along a former railroad between Grand Rapids and Vermontville to the southeast. When complete, it will be 42 miles long.
We came to an intersection with the East-West Trail and continued north on the Paul Henry Trail. The neighborhood started to get a little too urban for our taste, so we backtracked to the East-West Trail and checked it out.
This is a fairly new route that runs along a series of high tension power lines through a Consumers Energy corridor. It’s definitely a suburban route, and is a great use of the land. This particular raised wooden path over a swamp was first rate!
On Wednesday, we decided to check out one of the premiere trails in Michigan: The Fred Meijer White Pine Linear State Park. This trail runs along the same Grand Rapids and Indiana corridor that Kent Trails runs on, only the White Pine is from Grand Rapids north to Cadillac…a distance of 92 miles.
In the parking lot, we had met this fellow TerraTrike owner who constructed this sidecar for her doggie. That was one happy puppy!
The trail ran near the Rogue River, and there were several deep ravines. This particular portion of the railroad grade dates back to 1867.
It then runs through the quaint town of Rockford. Longtime readers may recall our post from this town last December called ‘A Small Town Christmas’. On this beautiful November day, the town was packed with people enjoying the sunshine.
From there, we continued north for a bit.
These pathways are just a small sampling of what the area has to offer. We look forward to exploring more of West Michigan’s trails in the future.
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