One of my absolute favorite reasons for living in Kent County is the diverse mix of urban, rural, and natural areas intertwining to create a wide variety of unique worlds to explore.

If “natural” piqued your interest there, Kent County offers a plethora of parks and hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels and breeds. To be exact, the Kent County Parks system currently includes 43 parks and over 7,400 acres of parks, greenspace, and trails encompassing 102 miles.

That’s a lot to explore by yourself, so I typically enlist our family’s far out canine companion, The Dude (or His Dudeness, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing), to keep me company while he sniffs the local flora and fauna. Dogs are allowed to join you on most trails, but there are a few guidelines from the Kent County Parks Department to keep in mind. These include always keeping your dog on a leash that doesn’t exceed six feet, and cleaning up after your pup.

Before you hit the trails, don’t forget that dogs need a few supplies to keep them happy and safe outdoors, so here are a few suggestions from Dude:

  • Fresh water and a collapsible bowl
  • Current ID tags and a well-fitting collar
  • A sturdy leash for walking or securing your pet to a specific area
  • Doggie bags for waste
  • Padded protective booties for rocky/rough terrain, if applicable to your pup
  • First aid kit
  • Lots of towels
  • Food and/or post walk/hike treats for being a good boy

Check out some of our favorite local trails below and be sure to visit the Experience Grand Rapids trails page to find even more options for you and your fluffy friends

Rockford, Michigan, boasts plenty of areas for outdoor recreation, including the White Pine Trail.

White Pine Trail spans 92 miles and connects to hotspots like downtown Rockford, just north of Grand Rapids.

Photo by Matthew Medendorp

Fred Meijer White Pine Trail

Perfect for dog walking, biking, running, and skating, the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail spans 92 miles, with endpoints in Cadillac and Riverside Park located on the northern end of Grand Rapids. The trail connects to many local communities, so you and your dog can enjoy areas like downtown Rockford. There, the trail passes by the Rockford Dog Park, The Toasted Pickle, and Custard by the Dam, which includes tasty pup cups on the menu when the shop is open (generally) from March-October.

Rockford Brewing Company is also a must-stop destination every time we hit the trail so Dude can enjoy sipping some water from the brewery’s community water bowl while I enjoy sipping a refreshing craft beer, like the brewery’s Hoplust American IPA. Insider tip: dogs are not allowed on the patio itself, but they can still relax by your side while secured to the trail-side of the patio’s fence.

Walking a dog next to Reeds Lake.

The 4.5-mile Reeds Lake Trail consists of paved paths, elevated boardwalks, and residential sidewalks.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Reeds Lake Trail

Reeds Lake, one of Kent County’s largest inland lakes, is a stunning focal point of East Grand Rapids. The lake is surrounded by the 4.2-mile Reeds Lake Trail, which consists of paved paths, elevated boardwalks, and residential sidewalks. This trail is a paradise for dogs like Dude who live to sniff the world around them. In this bustling area, you’ll most likely walk the same steps as other dogs, ducks, geese, and, dare I say it…squirrels.   

Along the trail, you’ll also discover a few short pocket trails that don’t lead to anywhere other than to beautiful and peaceful vantage points of Reeds Lake. Dude and I also enjoy exploring the sights and sounds of nearby John Collins Park, Waterfront Park, Hodenpyl Woods, and Manhattan Park, the largest East Grand Rapids city park at 46 acres. Visit the East Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation Department website to find more information about all East Grand Rapids parks and trails.

Sun shining through trees at Blandford Nature Center.

Dogs are allowed everywhere at Blandford except on the Wildlife Trail and inside buildings (with the exception of service animals).

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Blandford Nature Center

Blandford Nature Center's mission is to engage and empower visitors through enriching experiences in nature to foster community support for a healthier world. That even extends to your furry friends since visitors are allowed to explore the center’s eight miles worth of dog-friendly trails, with varying lengths under one mile, that are open daily.

When visiting, park in the Visitor Center lot and then start enjoying being surrounded by scenic meadows, forests, and wetlands. Dogs are allowed everywhere on the property, except on the Wildlife Trail and inside buildings (with the exception of service animals). Before visiting, note there is a $3 admission fee for non-members to help support Blandford’s various educational experiences and programs.

Walking a dog in the woods at Provin Trails.
A dog takes a break from walking at Provin Trails.

Provin Trails offers plenty of scenic views during every season.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Provin Trails Park

Provin Trails Park is a natural wonderland where Dude will tell you the diversity of smells and scenery is bountiful. The system consists of interconnected loops of serene wooded trails surrounding a large sand dune, which always provides a stunning overlook when Dude needs a breather, especially in the fall when the colors are exceptionally vibrant.

The trail system is also ideal for running during the fall, summer, or spring, or cross-country skiing in the winter. The park is conveniently the neighbor of Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery, where you can find post-hike sweet treats, wine, and hard ciders year-round or enjoy seasonal fruit harvests. Bonus: dogs are allowed anywhere outdoors on Robinette’s property.

Seidman Park Trail

The Seidman Park Trail system takes you and your pup along natural trails and boardwalks throughout the 400+ acres of woods, fields, and wetlands of Seidman Park. The trail system consists of multiple interconnecting loops totaling five miles of ungroomed trails varying in terrain and difficulty. You’ll find wayfinding maps at major trail intersections to help you and your dog find your way and there are two parking lots with seasonal restrooms located at the north and south ends of the trail. As a bonus, you’ll find an entrance to the multi-use Ada Trail, which connects Seidman Park to downtown AdaRoselle Park, Cannonsburg State Game Area, and other fun locations. 

Choose from 25 miles of paved trails and other outdoor recreation at Millennium Park.

Millennium Park offers more than 18 miles of dog-friendly trails along the serene Grand River.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Fred Meijer Millennium Park Trails

Millennium Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States with 1,400 acres, offers about 18 miles of trails and six miles of frontage along the serene Grand River. Most trails are paved and open to foot traffic, bikes, roller blades, and other human-powered devices. In addition to wetlands, forest, meadows, and trails, Millennium Park offers a six-acre beach and splash pad area, plus two large, free parking lots with seasonal restrooms and an amazing playground for kids consisting of three play areas suitable for different ages. Take note that there is an entry fee for the beach/splash pad area.

Before you and your pup jump back in your car, Dude and I recommend taking a side adventure over to the Sandy Hansen Shoreline Trail for an enjoyable route around the perimeter of the lakes found in the park's main recreation area. Fun fact: The park is also a trailhead for Kent Trails with easy access points.

What are some of your favorite Kent County trails to explore with your dog? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!