I am not the most athletic person. A childhood eye problem left me with poor hand-eye coordination, and, truthfully, I’m afraid of most sports-related activities. That is why hiking is the perfect exercise activity for me. It’s basically just walking in beautiful places! I think fall, with its cooler weather and gorgeous foliage, is the best time for a hike. So, join me in an exploration of the Lansing area’s best hikes.
Preparing For a Hike
Now, my friend from Denver tells me that you’re only truly hiking when elevation is involved. I scoff at her and reply that any walk in nature that requires comfortable shoes and a snack break is, indeed, a hike.
With that definition in mind, I will say that these hikes in the Lansing area are not particularly grueling. Most are within a quick drive of sustenance and civilization. But that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable.
You will still want to wear supportive shoes and dress in layers, bring a charged phone—for the Instagram photos, of course—and a water bottle for the walk. If you’re bringing very young children, you may want to invest in a hiking baby carrier. They can be expensive, but we got a hand-me-down from one of our siblings, and it works great for our daughter. Now that you are packed and ready, let’s hit the trails!
Hike #1: Lake Lansing North
Location: 6260 E Lake Dr, Haslett
First up is one of my favorite hikes in the Lansing area. There is a 2.4 mile loop of trails through forests, swamp areas and fields. Keep your kids occupied by spotting deer or other wildlife and running across the sections of boardwalk spread throughout the trails. In the winter, you can even cross-country ski the same trails. I recommend timing your trip so you can end the hike at golden hour; the sunset over the fields is beautiful.
There is a vehicle entrance fee of $5 for nonresidents, $3 for residents. Check the Ingham County Parks website for details on open hours and equipment rentals.
Hike #2: Fitzgerald Park and The Ledges
Location: 133 Fitzgerald Park Dr, Grand Ledge
Our next trail is the path along The Ledges in Grand Ledge, where you may come across rock climbers during your hike! The sandstone cliffs are an amazing feature of the Fitzgerald Park trails, which you can access from Fitzgerald Park or from the nearby Island Park in downtown Grand Ledge.
Depending on where you start, there are about 2.5 miles of trails near Fitzgerald Park, but with so much to see you’ll spend more time there than you think. I love walking under the railroad bridge that spans the Grand River and checking out the little caverns and caves amongst the ledges.
If you park at Fitzgerald Park, there is a $5 nonresident fee, $3 for residents. Visit the Eaton County website for more details on hours and facility rentals.
Hike #3: Woldumar Nature Center
Location: 5739 Old Lansing Rd, Lansing
Another of my favorite spots in town, Woldumar Nature Center offers five miles of trails broken up into about 1.5-mile hikes. With beautiful old trees and serene river views, these trails provide a perfect place to get your exercise. You may even want to bring a book and sit and read awhile. There is a natural playground area near the Visitor Center, and the Moon Log Cabin to visit, as well as plenty of programming year-round.
There is a suggested donation of $2 for non-members who wish to utilize the trails. Visit the Woldumar Nature Center website for more details on directions, trails, and programs.
Hike #4: Sleepy Hollow State Park
Location: 7835 E Price Rd, Laingsburg
Last but not least, we have Sleepy Hollow, the only state park on this list. Sleepy Hollow is only about a 25-minute drive from Lansing. It offers 16 miles of hiking trails, again with shorter options based on your time and comfort level. We love the Island Loop trail, which takes you into the middle of beautiful Lake Ovid and back across a wooden bridge. This year we went for a hike in February when the lake was frozen. The ice sparkled in the sun and it was stunning.
These trails are open to hikers, bikers and horse riders, so make sure you share the space! You can even camp at Sleepy Hollow if you want to get in multiple day hikes in a row.
You will need a Recreation Passport on your vehicle to enter, or you can purchase a day pass for $9. Check out all the options at Sleepy Hollow on the DNR website.
I hope this list inspires you to get outside with your family or even on your own this fall. Breathe in that crisp autumn air, soak up the fall colors, and, of course, treat yourself to a warm hot cocoa or apple cider afterwards. You went on a hike, you deserve it!