Grand Rapids is full of surprises.
Among my discoveries during a recent weekend in the West Michigan was the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail. The trail is a linear state park that stretches from Comstock Park in northern Grand Rapids all the way to Cadillac, some 90 miles away. My buddy and I biked from downtown Grand Rapids to Comstock Park to pick up the trail. Once out of town, the trail winds mostly through woods, following the rail bed of the former Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, which once hauled tourists to the Straits of Mackinac.
These days, bikers, runners, walkers, and roller bladers flock to the path. Despite the trail’s popularity, we pedaled long stretches without passing anyone. The trail follows the Grand River before veering northeast to hug the Rogue River. Cruising under a canopy of mature trees and peering down steep ravines created a sense of being somewhere else, far from home, far from urban Michigan. We found an accessible spot along the river, kicked our shoes off and waded into the shallow, frigid water. We lingered, undaunted by the chill, and amazed that we could steal time along such a beautiful river without a soul in sight.
We ventured only as far as Rockford, one of many towns along the White Pine. Rockford straddles the Rogue River and a dam there creates an ideal spot to take a break, enjoy the view and picnic. We passed the Rockford Brewing Co. on our way to the dam, and I had hoped to grab a beer and chill. Instead, we headed back to explore more of Grand Rapids.
Maybe next time.