I have been home at my parent’s house near Lansing, Michigan for the last two weeks, and the other day I decided to explore a place I had never been to before: Hawk Island. I actually don’t think that Hawk Island even existed when I was living in Michigan (the website says that it is the newest county park created out of an old gravel pit), but it is pretty close to town and it is a recommended destination on wikitravel, so I thought I would give it a try.
There is a vehicle entrance fee to get into the park, so I thought I would get around that by cycling there. I parked at Kruger Landing, one of the access points for the river trail which is also a good place to park for free to get to Potter Park Zoo. The main trail from here goes either to the Michigan State University campus to the east or through the zoo and towards downtown to the west, but this time I branched off to the south and headed for Hawk Island.
This whole part of town is a fairly natural place (it is also close to the Fenner Nature Center, one of my favorite natural areas in the area), but I had never been on this particular trail before. It actually wound past a golf course and then through a fairly substantial woodland before finally reaching Hawk Island. It probably took me about 10-15 minutes to cycle there-I’m guessing about 2 miles or so, but there were a lot of side trails as well and I thought it was a really nice little trail system which I had surprisingly never heard of before.
Hawk Island itself is obviously a pretty new park. The lake has a little island in the middle and the woodland wraps around part of the lake, but it mostly consists of a wide open grassy area. This makes it less nature friendly than I had been expecting but it looked like a really great place for kids and families. The part of it which I found pretty neat was that about half of the lake is surrounded by a boardwalk, and there were also facilities for renting boats, although only from memorial day through labor day.
Hawk Island is a huge park with lots of shelters and play equipment, but since it is such a new park there are not very many trees and it is not as good for things like birdwatching, which is what I like to do. However the trail system is amazing-the main trail which connects to the grand river trail is really nice, but there were all kinds of side trails going different places which would be nice to explore one day too. Overall I think it was a worthwhile trip and especially on a bicycle this would be a recommended place to go to experience a little piece and quiet in the middle of a city.