Take A Hike West Michigan

Posted by Bill & Paul's | 03.26.2016

 Outdoors in West Michigan

Take a Hike!

Sense the currents of warm air blowing over the last piles of snow in the trees.  Listen to the peep of unseen frogs and the call of a hidden bird.  Feel the leaves crunching under your shoes on a crisp morning trail run.  Not familiar with these experiences?  Maybe it's time to get outside in West Michigan!  

West Siders are blessed with trails in a range of natural environments and for use by pretty much anyone!

      

 

Are you new to the outdoors?  There are miles of paved urban trails that travel through parks and around neighborhoods.  They've been designed to allow comfortable walking, running, biking, and any other non-motorized form of movement.  No mud or scratchy bushes wait around the corner, yet on most of these trails birds, wildlife, and amazing plant life are a regular part of the experience.  Fred Meijer Millennium Trail, Fred Meijer White Pine Trail, and Ada Park are a few of our favorite urban trails.

Are you curious about stepping off the pavement?  A nature center or state park hike might be just the ticket. Well-marked dirt trails, preserved or reclaimed wilderness, wildlife sightings, and lots of good information are usually on the menu.  Be sure to check with the local ranger for special events or outings.  We suggest Hoffmaster State Park, Blanford Nature Center, or the Wittenbach Center as great places to start.

Ready for a more rugged and challenging experience with a little less company?  The North Country Trail tops the list here. While the entire trail runs from North Dakota to Pennsylvania, the trail’s national headquarters is in Lowell, MI. There are miles of this trail running right through West Michigan.  On a smaller scale, try Yankee Springs State Recreation Area.

Here are some important tips before you arrive at your selected trail:

Be kind to your feet

Walk/run/hike in the proper footwear.  Outdoor shoes and boots provide increased protection from the trail under your feet, have soles that grip the trail reducing slippage, and they stabilize your walking to minimize fatigue and the chance of injury.  Top brands include Salomon, Merrell, Keen, and Salewa.  Oh and don’t forget a good pair of socks.   Socks made with Merino wool are worth every penny! (See next tip and avoid cotton socks, please!)

Cotton Clothing Kills!

Well, that’s just a bit dramatic, but cotton shirts and shorts will soak up moisture from perspiration or the environment and then refuse to dry.   This makes the clothes heavy and will make you chilly and clammy while you walk.  Try to find clothing make of synthetics or wool to wear while being active.  And bring layers, after all it’s Michigan folks.  The weather’s going to change, so bring a light weight waterproof shell jacket and fleece just in case.

Proper nutrition and hydration (eating and drinking the right stuff!) will make you a happier hiker.  Fresh fruit, protein bars and carb shots from Clif or Honey Stinger washed down with a bottle of water keeps the spring in your step and a smile on your face.

Carry Comfortably

Put those extra layers of clothing, energy bars, water and of course your camera or smartphone in a lightweight day or waist pack.  This frees up your hands to use a hiking pole, to point out all the cool stuff you’ll see or for holding hands with that someone special you’re sharing the trail with.

Know your limits

It’s easy to forget to turn around some days.  And who doesn’t want to take the longest, hardest section on the map?  That’s where all the cool stuff must be right?  Just make sure you’re physically ready for the challenge.  After all you’re out to relax, recharge your batteries and enjoy yourself.  Don’t overdo it and end up making your hike a suffer-fest. 

Stop and smell the roses

Make milage secondary to smilage!  Appreciate the sights, sounds, and smells you can only find off the beaten path!!