By Becky Vargo
Looking for a chance to get some exercise and take in a fall color tour?
Ottawa County has an abundance of parks with miles of trails that will take you through the blazes of orange, red, yellow and purple of the season.
The county parks “have a multitude of maples, sugar maples, red maples, big-toothed aspens and sassafras,” said Kristin Hintz, coordinator of interpretive services. “Those trees in the right conditions go from their yellows, oranges and reds.”
Hintz said some of the best areas for color and beauty include Hemlock Crossing, North Ottawa Dunes and Grand River Ravines North.
At Hemlock Crossing, you walk across a scenic bridge over the Pigeon River and are greeted by an explosion of color as you head into the trails.
There’s also handicap accessibility to this point, as well as an accessible walkway through the meadow in the opposite direction.
For a view from above, you can take in the observation decks over the Grand River at Grand River Ravines North.
Gorgeous views can also be found at Rosy Mound, if you are willing to climb a lot of steps.
Spring Lake Township residents can take a gentle walk in Rycenga Park with a side trip down some steps through a wetland area.
Top Five Fall Color Hikes in Ottawa County
1 – Grand River Ravines North
This park is located off 42nd Avenue just south of the Grand Valley State University campus, half a mile north of Fillmore Street. It offers views of foliage and the river from an “up high” perspective.
2 – North Ottawa Dunes, North Beach Park, Coast Guard Park, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park. These four connecting parks in Ferrysburg, Spring Lake Township and Norton Shores offer miles of trails and views high overlooking Lake Michigan to deep in the wooded dunes.
3 — Rycenga Park
Located at 16401 Hemlock, this 80-acre park run by Spring Lake Township is actually in Fruitport Township.
Trails can be accessed by two different parking lots, and offer a gentle walk through the woods, and some steps down if you want to walk through a wetland area.
4 — Hofma Park and Hofma Preserve
Hofma Park is located at 15581 Ferris St. Hofma Preserve is at 16295 Sleeper St., both in Grand Haven Township.
The connected areas offer more than 400 acres of woods and recreation areas with 4.5 miles of trails going through the preserve. There’s also an 885-float bridge going through the wetlands at the west end of Pottawattomie Bayou.
5 — Bur Oak Landing
East is located at 13110 Trail Creek Drive, Coopersville, and West is located at 9170 Oriole Drive, Coopersville, both off Leonard Road.
There are no designated trails or restrooms on these parcels of 116 and 145 acres along the Grand River. This hike is for the more adventurous.