At Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy, we treat a large population of Grand Rapids runners, with an active internal running team to support all fitness levels. From scenic running trails to sunsets by the water, our running team has put together our list of the best places to run in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Local running is a great way to explore the city and its rich midwest community, especially during the warmer months of the year.
Not sure which Michigan trail to hit next? For Global Running Day, we decided to put together a short list of the 7 best places to go running in Grand Rapids and the surrounding West Michigan area, including paved trails, parks, and nature preserves. Check out our list of the Four Common Running Mistakes to make sure you are hitting the pavement pain-free.
Located on the West Side along the longest river in the state of Michigan, Riverside is classified as the largest urban park in the Grand Rapids parks system and is one of Danny Patterson’s, physical therapist and center manager at our Grand Rapids Northwest clinic, favorite places to run. This awesome green space has an abundance of paved pathways, perfect for an evening run, but be careful as it is known to flood due to the Grand River. Along the way, you will run into walkers, bikers, disc golfers, and even, at the right time of year, a few cross country meets.
From a 4-mile scenic run around gorgeous Reeds Lake to cooling down on East Grand Rapids High School’s track right next to Memorial Field, Physical Therapist and Co-Center Manager at our Jenison clinic, Grant Fall, says Reeds Lake loop is a must in every runner’s back pocket. For every running style, you’ll encounter power walkers, couples on Sunday strolls, and lots and lots of dogs. There’s a paved trail around the entire lake with well-marked pedestrian signs so you won’t get turned around. Enjoy the super cute cityscape, drool over the one-of-a-kind home architecture, and feel a refreshing breeze coming across the lake.
Luton Park is a multi-use trail system with a total of 9.7 miles of winding trails. From pines to meadows and hardwoods to marshes this park is well worth the drive. Enjoy the three bridge crossings over Rum Creek, and join over 500 runners for the Hurt the Dirt 1/4, ½, and full marathon in April. Noah French, the Director of Marketing, recommends making the quick two-mile drive to the City of Rockford afterward to refuel at one of his favorite restaurants, Marinades Pizza.
Part of the Fredrick Meijer Millennium Trail Network, with 1,400 acres of rolling terrain, 6 miles of frontage on the Grand River, 18 miles of trails, and 12 different trail options and running trails, you can understand why Danny Patterson had to make sure Millennium Park made it on our list. From loops ranging from 0.3 to 4.1 miles, this park is for all fitness levels. The park features unique habitats and large natural areas for wildlife to thrive, which makes it a great place to run un-abandoned, without a plan, and without getting lost in a safe environment close to your home. After your run, make sure to bring your swimsuit and take a dip on the six acres of Millennium beach and wash off at the splash pad.
With 1,500 feet of frontage on Emmons Lake, Physical Therapist and Center Manager at our Caledonia clinic, Shawn Collins quickly fell in love with this picturesque location. With 1,500 feet of frontage on Emmons Lake, along the way, you might see avid fishermen taking advantage of these picturesque opportunities. This park is about a third of a mile, exploring the wooded areas and a back field of the park, and it connects to the unfinished Paul Henry Thornapple Trail. When complete, the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail will stretch 42 total miles totally paved across three counties. We recommend you check out Brink’s Ice Cream Express for a quick Caledonia treat after your workout.
1.2 miles away from our Grand Rapids North East clinic, this 46-acred hidden trail is tucked away off 4 Mile Rd between Dean Lake Ave and East Beltline. A real reprieve from city living, enjoy the rolling sandy trails with many interconnected loops of heavily wooded forest. One of the most beautiful trails in Grand Rapids, this is a very popular area for birding, cross-country skiing, and hiking. Find some serious nature here and gear up for inclines, declines, roots, and of course, relaxation. Make sure to walk a 1/4 of a mile up the road to Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery to grab a donut or bottle to-go.
This popular Grand Rapids Running Club meet-up spot is one of the trailheads for the 15-mile rail trail in Kent County that is part of a network of running trails in and around Grand Rapids. It stretches from John Ball Park and Millennium Park all the way to Byron Center. If you’re looking for a scenic space with lots of options that isn’t too far away, you struck gold. Start or finish your workout with some hill repeats from the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant all the way to the John Ball Hilltop Park & Pavilion and back. Make sure to check out John Ball Zoo afterward!
Thanks for checking out our favorite running spots in Grand Rapids, Michigan! Please let us know what your favorite West Michigan running spot is, and make sure to check out SweatNET’s Top 10 Running Trails in Grand Rapids for a few different running trails.
If you have concerns about your running form, Hulst Jepsen offers video gait analysis, where we break down your running form and give input on what you need to work on to improve your overall running health. To schedule an appointment or free consultation at your local Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy clinic, give your nearest clinic a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be in touch with you as soon as possible to help you get closer to your race day goals!