This is my love letter to the Lansing River Trail.
The Lansing River Trail is often overshadowed by all of the amazing places it connects, including Lansing’s Old Town, where the trail begins and where you can dine at any number of great establishments after some fun shopping, Hawk Island Park, where you can rent paddle boats and canoes or swim or fish and the Brenke Fish Ladder, a wonderful place to spend time in peace and quiet and bask in Mid-Michigan’s splendor.
As the trail winds south you’ll pass Museum Row and Cooley Law School Stadium, where the Lansing Lugnuts play Single-A baseball. Just after you lose sight of the capitol you’re faced with a choice: to continue south along the Grand River to Potter Park Zoo and Soldan’s Dog Park (one of Dog Fancy Magazine’s top dog parks of 2009) or to head east along the Red Cedar toward the campus of Michigan State University.
All of the trail and the places you’ll encounter are easily traversed and accessible whether on foot or bicycle. Taking the trail by bike is definitely the way to go, however, as you can ride the entire trail easily in a single outing, especially if you are stopping along the way. The trail has many access points (check out this map!) and you can even rent bicycles at Riverfront Cycle.
But as the old saying goes, “It is not the destination, but the journey.” A nice meal cannot take the place of the wind on your skin as you fly your bike along the river, and some great music down in Old Town just isn’t the same as the rumble of the train that rolls by where the Lansing River Trail runs along the tracks (just for a bit). Your journey will take you over wooden bridges, under concrete bridges and through some outstanding natural canopies.
The Lansing River Trail isn’t just a walkway and it’s more than just some bike trail. It is Michigan State University’s campus. Thousands of students walk this trail every single day. It is the Lansing City Market. It is a moment of beautiful respite on a busy work day. It is exercise. There’s so much activity on the trail it’s hard to get a picture. It is a nice slice of the natural and it is everything in between.
More importantly, it is where I fell in love with my wife and later proposed to her. For that, the Lansing River Trail will always have great significance for me. The fact that the Lansing River Trail has significance for so many others just makes it that much sweeter.
For more information, like the Lansing River Trail on Facebook.
~ Nathan Smathers, Feature Writer