Hike #4, Ken O Sha Park,1353 Van Auken SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
I have driven past Ken O Sha Park hundreds of times but this is my first visit. The park is off Kalamazoo Ave. It is adjacent to Ken O Sha elementary school and incorporates the Plaster Creek Trail which runs 2.7 miles from the east park entrance westward to Buchanan Ave. This park consists of 82.15 acres.
Plaster Creek with steep embankments on either side runs next to the paved trail. There is one bridge across this creek, close to the parking lot and from there you can wander along dirt paths on the north side of the creek where mountain bike trails course up and down the embankments. We crossed this bridge to explore the north edges of the park which unfortunately abutted factories and businesses, a reminder we were still in the city.
We spent a pleasant hour walking through this wooded park. Not very busy midweek, nice to have some space.
Hike #2-Ball Perkins Park, 1675 Perkins Ave NE, Grand Rapids 49505
This was a new park to us. It was relatively close to home and looked like a good park for walking. At the Perkins Ave. entrance there is a large community garden protected by a tall deer fence. The garden was now cleaned of plants and being readied for the winter. I checked the brochure about plot rentals-$60, plus shared time in keeping up the common spaces. It appeared well used and warrants a trip back in midsummer to see all the gardening!
The park is long (south-north) and narrow (east-west) on the map and features a wetlands (pond actually) and a ravine twisting through the park. Also a cleared right of way for a line of utility poles runs through the park south to north.
The trail starting on the east side, is hard pack and very level. There are several benches along the trail as well as a seating area on a platform overlooking the large pond. We walked west on the trail from the entrance. The area was almost entirely wooded with oaks and beeches and some low scraggly trees which we thought to be cherry-again no leaves for identifying. The trail came upon the ravine more than once and the ravine was surprisingly deep. The steep grade deterred us from climbing down and over to cross. At the west end of the park was a long greenway running south to north behind a row of houses on Ball Ave -a nice amenity for the residents who lived there.
In all we hiked about 2 miles but mostly from doubling back and taking some side paths. The park is obviously larger than what can be seen from the main pathway but will save that for another time.
Highlights-ravine, wetlands/pond, community garden. The park is well worth an hour of your time or maybe two.