Grand Rapids Nature Trails to Explore with the Kids while Social Distancing

Still trying to find your family’s new normal during Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order? We know it can be tough to keep your kids’ days filled with learning and fun when you’re stuck inside four walls!

And, while we all need to stay home, stay healthy, and practice safe social distancing to the fullest — you can still get out for a little fresh air on these kid-friendly nature trails in Grand Rapids.

If you do decide to venture out on the trails, be sure to follow all local, state, and federal guidelines — and keep in mind these tips:

Practice safe social distancing: Keep your family at least six feet apart from anyone you encounter on your outing, at all times.

Teach the kids trail etiquette: When others are approaching, move over to the right side of the path, or step off completely to let them pass.

Plan ahead: Remember that park facilities like restrooms, visitor centers, and playgrounds are currently closed to the public. Keep your trips timed to your kids’ needs and explain that the playground’s off-limits so they’ll know what to expect.

Check the lot: If you pull in and see a parking lot that’s more than half-full, choose a different trail to explore that day, or come back and try again at an off-time.

Keep clean: Wash or sanitize your hands thoroughly before and after your adventures on the trails.

Blandford Nature Center Trails (Grand Rapids) Even though Blandford Nature Center’s facilities are closed through May 11 — including the Visitor Center and the Farm — their nature trails are still open for exploring. From the Wildlife Trail to the wide, dirt-loop Wagon Trail, each path offers a unique way to take in the natural beauty of Blandford. Not sure which ones to try? Use this map to find a trail length and difficulty level that suits your little ones best!

Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens (Grand Rapids) 100 acres of forest, wetlands, and native plant gardens — woven with more than a mile of gorgeous trails. Spot 174 plant species, 179 bird species, and 250-plus-year-old trees — and make your own scavenger hunt so the kids can keep track of all the wildlife they’ll be watching for! Check out their #OutdoorsAtHome resources, too, for fun ideas that’ll keep your kids learning and loving nature, even while school’s not in-session.

Aman Park (Grand Rapids) Woodsy, 331-acre oasis just six miles outside the city, with six self-guided, color-coded trails that range from 0.8- to 1.5-mile loops. You’ll see every kind of terrain here — from rolling hills to dense forest, and even bridge crossings over Sand Creek. Have the kids spot their favorites in fields-upon-fields of wildflowers (and take a picture with the backdrop of trillium and bluebells that carpet the entire forest floor in spring)!

Huff Park (Grand Rapids) Almost two miles of paved nature trails with a beautiful, raised boardwalk that loops over the wetlands. Spot wildflowers (and lots of critters, like frogs and painted turtles) at this serene spot right within the city.

Seidman Park (Ada) Five miles of linked-loop, natural-surface trails through 400 acres of woods, fields, and wetlands. Try an easy, quarter-mile loop just off the south parking lot — or an up-to-four-mile hike around the park’s perimeter — and have the kids watch for Pileated Woodpeckers here!

Roselle Park (Ada) 240-acre nature preserve along the Grand River, with a gorgeous river overlook, boardwalk, and wetland observation deck. Follow both paved and mowed, natural trails that wind through wetlands, prairies, and forest — and find plenty of turtles and frogs along the way!

Pickerel Lake Park (Cannonsburg) Walk trails that weave through the wetlands and let the kids see how many half-eaten tree trunks they can count (thanks to an active community of beavers that make their home here). Spot loads of other wildlife, too, and especially enjoy the boardwalk that crosses a portion of the 80-acre Pickerel Lake.

Townsend Park (Cannonsburg) Scenic spot along the Bear Creek Valley with a boardwalk over natural wetlands. Hike through the pine plantation, then spread out a family picnic near the wooded hills and enjoy some quality downtime together at this tucked-away spot.

More Great Nature Trails for Hiking with Kids in Grand Rapids:

Provin Trails (Grand Rapids)
Crahen Valley Park (Grand Rapids)
Cascade Peace Park (Ada)
Brower Lake Nature Preserve (Rockford)

More Information on Local Parks & Trails Guidelines:

Kent County Parks COVID-19 Updates
Kent County Health Department COVID-19 Updates
Michigan DNR COVID-19 Information