Looking for fitness? Look outside

Hemlock Crossing Ottawa County
Hemlock Crossing, West Olive
Photos: Ottawa County Parks & Recreation

By Mary Lu Laffey

According to Jessica VanGinhoven, feeling good and improving your health can be as easy as a walk in the park. She should know. VanGinhoven is the communications specialist/public information officer for the Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Department.

“Re-charge and stay active by taking a walk, hike or bike ride at any of the Ottawa and Allegan parks,” VanGinhoven said.

For those seeking a walking challenge, consider a hike through the forest in West Olive for a sunset view at Olive Shores or along the majestic and storied Saugatuck Dunes. Other locations on her list range from climbing the stairs at Mount Pisgah in Holland, tackling the Rosy Mound Natural Area in Grand Haven, to Mount Baldhead in Saugatuck.

“North Beach Park in Ferrysburg has an accessible beach, with special decking and a path to Lake Michigan,” she said. “A wheelchair designed to navigate sand and float on the water is available.”

For those who crave the need for speed, break out running shoes and tackle miles of easy-to-navigate trails that weave along the Pigeon River at Hemlock Crossing or Pigeon Creek Park in West Olive.

Jessica Van Ginhoven
Jessica Van Ginhoven

Prefer to get fit on wheels? The Upper Macatawa Natural Area in Zeeland offers nearly 7 miles of single-track mountain bike trails through ravines and a paved bike path that connects the Lakeshore to Kent County.

There are mountain bike trails at Riley Trails, which is particularly popular for fat tire bikes during the winter.

VanGinhoven likes to stay outside even in the winter with snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

At any time of the year, outdoor enthusiasts can find fitness and health using the peaceful trails with picture postcard views in Ottawa and Allegan counties.

For more park information, trail maps and walking guides, visit the Ottawa County Parks & Recreation or the Allegan County Parks and Recreation offices or websites. n

Ottawa County Parks & Recreation
12220 Fillmore St.
West Olive

Allegan County Parks and Recreation
3255 122nd Ave.