VNG

Favorite Places to Bike in the GR Area

10 posts in this topic

This morning my wife said something a bit unexpected. She asked me to bring our bikes into a shop to get tuned up, and buy two bike trailers for the kiddos. (3 that are 5 and younger) She wants to start biking again. 

 

It has been almost a decade since I have been on my bike so I am surprised that she made the suggestion, but I figure why not. Sounds like fun. When I was in college, I would mountain bike on trails 3 to 4 times a week, but as life got in the way, I have not been on a bike all that much. 

 

I see signs for trails all over the place outside of downtown, but is there anywhere to ride in the City that is safe? I see these road side paths but I don't know how safe those are given that we are not experienced riders. I was thinking we would start small by riding around our neighborhood in Ada and working up. Or, I work by the lake and there are a ton of country roads over here, so we might load up the truck and head out. 

 

Where are your favorite places to ride in the metro area?

Edited by VNG

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There are a few good options as you build up your confidence.  How many miles did you have in mind for your rides?  If you just wanted to ride for 30-45 minutes, check out some of the trails in Ada township (Grand River Dr. & Roselle Park, Knapp, Honey Creek & Seidman Park, Thornapple River Dr. Laraway Lake, Ada Drive, Cascade Road. etc.).  They are pretty safe and often have the option to stop into a park for a break (some road crossings and you need to watch the driveways as you cross them)

 

If you want to go for longer rides.  Check out the White Pine trail.  You can start at Riverside park and it is paved all the way up to Cedar Springs.  The only risks are the road crossings.  If you don't mind riding on dirt, I think you could probalbly keep going all the way up to Cadillac.  One of our favorite rides is to start at Riverside Park, Ride up to Rockford for some ice cream and then ride back to the park.  If we want to go longer...we may ride past Rockford and then stop back on the way through for ice cream.

 

One of the more popular quick rides is parking at Ada Park and then doing a quick sprint to Alden Nash and back on Grand River Trail.  It is relatively flat.

Edited by Sparty97

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If you're not familiar with it already: http://www.westmichigantrails.com/

 

In the Ada/Cascade area, there are a lot of roadside trails (really glorified sidewalks) - watch out for driveways and intersections, though.

 

Millennium Park has a good trail network.

 

The White Pine Trail is nice, though often fairly busy. There is a nice new-ish parking area in Comstock Park. Riding from Comstock Park to Rockford is a manageable distance, and Rockford makes a great halfway point - stop for lunch at Arnies, drinks at Rockford Brewing, ice cream, hot dogs, etc. The hill leading up to the bridge over West River Drive near Comstock Park is a bit steep, especially pulling a trailer.

 

My favorite recreational trail is the Musketawa Trail. I start from the parking area in Marne - the trail has been extended toward GR, but I'm not sure if it's completed yet. 7 miles from Marne is Conklin, home of the excellent (and authentic) Finian's Irish Pub. This trail is less busy, and has less crossings. There was a cyclist (an acquaintance, actually) killed at a crossing recently; for some reason, he blew through a stop sign. However, the trail is quite safe - just be aware that the cross-streets are mostly 55 MPH.

 

There is a lot of trail-building activity going on near Lowell, as well. I'm not sure what the latest is on that, though.

 

Hope this helps!

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White Pine Trail for sure. Although I would not recommend starting at Riverside Park if you'll have kids in bike carts. The trail ends at North Park Bridge and then picks up again on the other side of the Grand River, and is pretty hairy for crossing with kiddie trailers if you're an inexperienced rider.

 

You can park at 5/3 ballpark and pick up the White Pine Trail there by Craig's Cruisers, or there's a great park-n-bike lot in Belmont right off of Belmont Avenue. From there, it's almost exactly 4 miles into downtown Rockford. An 8 mile round trip should be not a big deal if you're just starting out again. I take my kids on that 8 mile round trip quite a bit (on their own bikes). The views down to the Rogue River in some spots on the trail are spectacular; a Michigan treasure in my opinion. Plus there are still some of the old mile markers when it served the railroad. There's a stone viaduct over a creek just North of the Summit Avenue crossing that is awesome. You have to get off the trail and go down to the park to see it.

 

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=white+pine+trail,+rockford,+mi&hl=en&ll=43.165643,-85.566212&spn=0.002101,0.005284&sll=45.00109,-86.270553&sspn=8.342823,21.643066&t=h&hnear=White+Pine+Trail+State+Park,+Rockford,+Kent,+Michigan+49341&z=18

 

The old train trestle that you cross just before getting into Rockford is pretty cool as well.

 

As sparty97 said, downtown Rockford has Dam Dogs, Custard by the Dam, the actual dam on the Rogue River which is pretty unique for this area, Rockford Brewing Co., and a farmer's market that goes on Saturday mornings in the parking lot right next to the White Pine Trail. And then when you're ready to add miles, you can continue North of Rockford to any number of turnaround points (12 Mile, Indian Lakes, Cedar Springs). If you're feeling really ambitious without the kids, Belmont up to Sand Lake (where the pavement ends) and back is 34 miles. It's very lightly traveled for most of it and you can get up some serious speed.

 

Another place you might try is Roselle Park on Grand River Drive. They've paved about 3 miles worth of trails there.

 

The multi-use paths along the roads out in Ada are perfectly fine for biking at slow speeds with kids. There are some major uphill climbs though, particularly on Buttrick, Thornapple River Drive, Grand River Dr, and Ada Drive. Most of the faster bikers I know don't even use them because they're dangerous at high speeds.

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GRDad - there is a new parking location for the White Pine in Comstock Park, off of Lamoreax Dr. It beats the uncertainty of whether AJ's or the ballpark will kick you out of their lots. I agree that starting from Riverside isn't good for family riding.

 

 

http://goo.gl/maps/Hhgsv

Edited by organsnyder

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GRDad - there is a new parking location for the White Pine in Comstock Park, off of Lamoreax Dr. It beats the uncertainty of whether AJ's or the ballpark will kick you out of their lots. I agree that starting from Riverside isn't good for family riding.

 

 

http://goo.gl/maps/Hhgsv

 

Oh, that's cool. And right by Nick Fink's! :)

 

With some upgrades, resurfacing, striping and widening through Rockford, I think the White Pine could be world-class. I've thought about joining the Friends of White Pine Trail to see what can be done.

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I'll chime in here with a couple.

 

Millennium Park, combined with Kent Trail across the river, may be my very favorite place.  If you combine the trails in the park and then ride the extension trail all the way to Johnson Park and then back on Indian Mounds Dr/Kent Trail, you can ride 20+ miles and only ever have to cross ~5-6 low-traffic intersections.  Also, the Johnson Park scenic drive is very hilly, but a hidden gem.  It's actually a road, but was closed to vehicle traffic a few years ago.  You won't find any paved "trail" with forest like it in West Michigan (that I'm aware of).  It's probably not good for dragging kids in a trailer/trail-a-bike unless you're up for workout. :)

PedalGR rides I've done for the past 5 years.  We meet at Founders at 6:30pm on alternating Wednesdays.  Most of the routes avoid busy roads as much as possible, but sometimes it's unavoidable.  You could use them as a guideline, though.  Also as a disclaimer, some of the routes through lower-income neighborhoods that might make some people feel uncomfortable.  I've never felt unsafe anywhere we've ridden in daylight.  GR really doesn't have any avoid at all costs type areas, at least not during daylight hours.

https://maps.google.com/maps/user?uid=203348458257806223530&hl=en&gl=us&ptab=2

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White Pine Trail for sure. Although I would not recommend starting at Riverside Park if you'll have kids in bike carts. The trail ends at North Park Bridge and then picks up again on the other side of the Grand River, and is pretty hairy for crossing with kiddie trailers if you're an inexperienced rider.  ...

Actually, there's a paved sidewalk under the freeway (on the west side of Monroe). It's possible to continue down to a gravel pit driveway (with large boulders and a blade on display) on the bridge sidewalk and dirt ruts. Also, there's a cloverleaf that takes you below North Park, along the river, and back up on the north side of the street...designed by someone not pulling kids.

 

At the gravel pit, become a vehicle and cross North Park, continue just past the landscape business to the tiny, obscure entrance to the WPT. There's a very small sign heralding your arrival.

 

Here's a Streetview complete with bike rider and gravel truck.

 

Bing overview photo

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Actually, there's a paved sidewalk under the freeway (on the west side of Monroe). It's possible to continue down to a gravel pit driveway (with large boulders and a blade on display) on the bridge sidewalk and dirt ruts. Also, there's a cloverleaf that takes you below North Park, along the river, and back up on the north side of the street...designed by someone not pulling kids.

 

At the gravel pit, become a vehicle and cross North Park, continue just past the landscape business to the tiny, obscure entrance to the WPT. There's a very small sign heralding your arrival.

 

Here's a Streetview complete with bike rider and gravel truck.

 

Bing overview photo

 

Oh yeah, I've navigated every one of those. I actually find it easier to just ride out on North Park, but it's definitely not family friendly.

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Anywhere downtown on the weekends.  It's so deserted you've got the whole place to yourself.

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