January 11, 2021
Park #6 Wilcox Park 100 Youell SE, Grand Rapids 49508
Wilcox Park is my neighborhood park-the closest city park to my back door. It is the city park I visit the most, often 1-2 times a week . For me, it is a short 1.2 mile hike, taking in the delight of the leafy Marywood campus and the Aquinas campus along the way. Wilcox Park is bordered by Aquinas College on the east side, and separated by a fence and Coldbrook creek (which flows from Fisk Lake). From my house and then through the college campus north to south and around the perimeter of the park (south and west borders) and back to home, I can knock off 6400 steps in an hour for a distance of 2.4 miles. That’s a pretty good workout for me and a nice encounter with nature.
On a recent walk after our last snow, it was great to see kids and parents sliding down a hill off Youell Ave. and into the “bowl” in the middle of the southern part of the park. The copse of firs in the center of the “bowl” was sometimes an obstacle but no serious collisions.
Last fall we noticed the addition of a hammock grove, groups of 4x4s anchored in the ground with hooks for hanging hammocks (a popular thing to do in this park for the last several years). Previously people were using trees for suspending their hammocks. Each pole is decorated with different designs and in themselves, an interesting art form (also utilitarian). The project is memorial to a young man who passed away in 2017 at the tender age of 21. His poetry appears on 2 plaques in the hammock grove.
Wilcox Park encompasses 12.68 acres. It was established in 1910 on land which was formerly a gravel pit- the gravel used to build a toll road from Grand Rapids to Reeds Lake. Amenities today include: basketball and tennis courts, a ball diamond, a fenced playground and splash pad, small picnic shelter with bathrooms, and plenty of room to walk your dog, hang your hammock or lie on a blanket in the sun for an afternoon rest. It’s great to have this park so near to my house!