Grand Rapids’ bike trails are growing bigger and faster than ever! Bike lanes, signage, and miles of new bike trails are being installed all over the city. Local businesses host cycling events year-round and bike racks are a storefront staple. Between construction projects and the downtown parking scene, biking is quickly becoming a fun alternative to getting around. Whether you’re looking for a bike trail to get downtown, a scenic riverside loop, or a 90-mile journey toward the great white north, Grand Rapids is where it’s at!
Lemery Park Trail
1.9 miles one way
Image via @footballboi23 | Instagram
The city of Wyoming has some incredible green spaces tucked among its dense neighborhoods, and Lemery Park is one of these hidden gems. The park features a 1.9-mile bike trail along Buck Creek. It’s a great place to take in a quick ride along the water, but you can double the distance by biking through Palmer Park via the Buck Creek Nature Preserve.
Buck Creek Trail
2.1 miles one way
Image via @sak93_mtb4 | Instagram
Just down the road, you’ll find the Buck Creek Trail winding its way through Grandville. Never straying too far from the creek, this bike trail weaves through the southwest suburbs all the way out to the Grand River confluence. Parking is available at Wedgwood Park and downtown Grandville.
Plaster Creek Trail
2.8 miles one way
Image via @ericalangwoosah | Instagram
The foliage is dazzling along the Plaster Creek Trail, which hugs the banks of its namesake creek from Ken-o-sha Park to the Kroc Center. In addition to the paved trails, mountain bike trails are also interspersed throughout the greenway. You can get your fill of both styles on your ride!
Kentwood East-West Trail
3 miles one way
Image via @bbender785 | Instagram
The name is self-explanatory; it’s a bike trail that runs east-west through Kentwood. Starting at Kellogsville Park, the East West Trail traverses creeks, wetlands, and southside neighborhoods for three miles before joining the Thornapple Trail. More on that later.
Oxford Street Trail
Image via @mpsteen2 | Instagram
South Dakota’s Black Hills might be famous for a different sort of bike scene, but this Grand Rapids neighborhood has a quality bike trail as well! Beginning on Oxford Street near Godfrey Avenue, the Oxford Street Trail connects the Black Hills to Millennium Park, the Kent Trails, and the rest of the downtown trail network. At 3.1 miles, it’s a scenic spot to train for 5Ks. The route includes views of the Grand River, the downtown skyline, and a restored urban prairie.
3.5 miles one-way
Image via @lancew3544 | Instagram
The Interurban Trail cuts a path through suburbia on the south side of Grand Rapids, connecting Godwin Heights to Kelloggsville. The simplest way to ride its length would be to start at Ideal Park in Wyoming, at the confluence of Buck and Pine Hill Creeks. After a short ride through the woods, the bike trail heads north over streams and through neighborhoods up to 36th Street.
Cannon Township Trail
4.8 miles one way
Image via @justinarltofficial | Instagram
On Grand Rapids’ northeast side, the Cannon Township Bike Trail offers a beautiful ride past lakes, over wetlands, and through wooded valleys. This is an excellent place to take in fall colors in a natural setting. Parking is available at the Cannon Township Hall, Townsend Park, and the village of Cannonsburg.
5.7 miles one way
Image via @fanofbaacon | Instagram
2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the capture of Big Sid, a circus python that escapes its cage and roamed the streets of Standale, Michigan for over a month. Some spent the summer searching for the snake, while others stayed inside out of fear. Ultimately, it was a young couple on bicycles who found and helped capture Big Sid.
Today, you can bike the Standale Trail through the very farms and fields that Sid called home for one infamous summer. The trail connects Walker City Hall with the Millennium Park bike trail network. It features boardwalks, hills, bike trails, and a pedestrian tunnel. Be sure to stop in town for some ice cream, smoothies, or some Standale-brewed craft beer!
Flat River Trail
7.2 mile loop
Image via @theappleofmyisaac | Instagram
It’s a bit of a hike to get out to Greenville, but the Flat River Trail is one of the best loop bike trails in West Michigan. This 7.2-mile route follows a long, C-shaped arc along the Flat River through downtown Greenville. A couple of lakes are thrown in for good measure. There is hardly a curve on this loop in which something scenic isn’t revealed around the bend. The trailhead is conveniently located on M-57, right next to Castle Brewing Co.
9.6 miles one way
Image via @bridget.beusing | Instagram
When M6 was installed as a way to get around Grand Rapids’ sprawling south side, planners of the highway had the good graces to include a bike path. You’ll find surprisingly lofty vantage points along this 9.6-mile corridor, high above the road where you can see the profile of 92nd Street Hill, some of the highest elevation in Kent County.
10 miles one way to Caledonia
Image via @misstrish.311 | Instagram
If you start at 44th and Kalamazoo, it’ll be a 10-mile ride down the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail to get to Caledonia Lakeside Park. The plans are much bigger than that, however. Local municipalities are working on paving their own segments of this former railroad corridor, and soon you’ll be able to ride a bike trail all the way out to Vermontville, 42 miles away!
Image via @zander.e.willoughby | Instagram
The pioneer of the Grand Rapids bike scene, we owe a lot of credit to the Kent Trails system. It was ahead of its time and still serves as the central hub to which future bike paths aim to connect. From the trailhead near John Ball Zoo, you can enjoy this unabridged bike trail network through Millennium Park all the way to Jenison, Grandville, Wyoming, or Byron Center. Trail highlights include the Grand River, Buck Creek, the Sand Mines, and the Hopewell Indian Mounds.
Ada Township Trails
Image via @melindak_photography | Instagram
Another great loop option, the Ada Township Trails run a hilly course around the northeast side of Grand Rapids. Beginning in downtown Ada, the loop offers wide panoramas of the Grand River, boardwalks over wetlands, and an endless array of fall foliage.
Recent transplants to Grand Rapids likely won’t remember when Millennium Park was just a 1400-acre sand mine, but today it is one of the finest parks in all of Michigan. Kent County Parks has invested deeply in Millennium Park, which now plays host to numerous bike races, running events, concerts, and even the X-Games.
The 18-mile network of bike trails is one of Millennium’s best assets. Frequent intersections allow for loops of any distance to be made. This makes Millennium an excellent destination for beginners through experts, and the varied terrain means there’s something new around every bend.
Musketawa Trail/Pioneer Trail
33.6 miles one way
Image via @fanofbaacon | Instagram
The Musketawa is another trail that’s been around for some time. This 22-mile linear bike trail runs from Marne all the way to Muskegon, stopping through small towns and bucolic farmlands along the way.
Recently, Kent County Parks built a connector route through Walker called the Pioneer Trail. This greenway provides a vital link between the Musketawa and the White Pine Trail, extending the route to Muskegon by eleven miles. It also gives Northwest-siders a convenient way to bike downtown.
Grand River Greenway
40 miles one way
Image via @theblehmgroup | Instagram
The project has been in the works for decades, as Ottawa County Parks quietly acquired riverfront parcel after parcel. The objective was announced just two years ago: the Grand River Greenway, a 40-mile swath of preserved natural areas along the southern shore of the Grand River. In addition to a water trail for paddlers and a habitat corridor for wildlife, the Greenway also includes plans for the Idema Explorers Trail, a bike trail path that will connect downtown Grand Rapids to Grand Haven’s lakeshore. Segments are still under construction, but keep an eye on this project. They’re making strides every day.
White Pine Bike Trail
92 miles one way
Image via @loose_spokes | Instagram
Some state parks are 92 miles long and only 20 feet wide. Such is the case of White Pine Trail State Park, West Michigan’s premier long-distance bike path. Many area bikers are familiar with the picturesque stretch that runs from downtown Grand Rapids up to Rockford, but few have attempted the daunting century ride to its terminus in Cadillac. The White Pine Trail crosses six major rivers, seventeen towns, and countless creeks and farms through Northern Michigan.
About the Author
Nick Meekhof graduated from Calvin College with a major in writing and a minor in geography. A farmer for the first twenty-three years of his life, Nick currently works for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. When he’s not traversing the state conducting orchard inspections, he can be found exploring the rivers, forests, and small towns all throughout the Great Lakes State. His current goals include kayaking one hundred Michigan rivers, swimming in Lake Michigan during every month of the year, and visiting as many Michigan breweries as possible. Follow Nick’s adventures on Instagram: @puremichiganguy.