fbpx

Recently, my daughter decided she wanted to ditch the training wheels from her bike. It only took an hour (and a little assistance from her dad) for her to gain the confidence she needed to pedal freely. She was so proud.

And I was ecstatic. Finally, two of my three kiddos have mastered the two-wheeler. For years, I’ve looked forward to the day our family could ride like a mini-Peloton, wind in our faces, cruising a trail or popular biking route.

Still, with two young bikers (only five and eight years old) and our youngest in tow on our Wee-Ride Co-Pilot Bike trailer, our family needs safe, yet fun, biking routes that take us beyond subdivision roads and driveways. In my quest to satiate our young-family biking adventures, I’ve discovered many local parks along Michigan’s Sunset Coast that offer happy paths for families with beginning bikers.

Here are some of the Southwest Michigan parks with family fun for you and your young pedaling people. Each park features safe riding: wide paths and little to no vehicle traffic. And some of our parks have playground pitstops for your post-ride treat.

So, grab the kiddos, pack up the bikes (and, you know, all the rest of kid gear that goes along) and let’s get cycling.

Lake Township Park, Bridgman

Plenty of shade + quiet paths = biking heaven

Recommended for emerging or beginning bikers 

With young children in tow (literally behind the bicycle), parents want a safe spot off of the road to bike. Luckily, Lake Township Park, located on Gast Rd. in Bridgman, offers just that. It is the perfect place for a young family of cyclists. Whether you have a bike trailer passenger, a tricyclist, or a (still a little wobbly) two-wheeler, this 40+ acre park offers nearly a mile of paved, low-traffic paths (with the exception of soccer Saturdays and spring Baseball evenings). Park near the playground equipment and head south along the soccer fields. The path will wrap around the back end of the park where there’s a small play area, a pond, and pavilion. The path continues to loop around in one large circle. Make this loop a few times. Change directions. Cut through the soccer field parking lot.  After all this, the kids will feel like they’ve just finished their very own Tour de Park.  With a cherry on top, the trip can always end with a quick stop at the playground. 

Open from dawn to dusk | 10801 Gast Rd, Bridgman, MI

Lakeshore’s Roosevelt Elementary School, Stevensville

Let’s go on a road trip

Recommended for emerging or beginning bikers 

If you have tiny bikers and have never been to Lakeshore’s Roosevelt Elementary School playground, you are in for a sweet treat. Cozied up next to the elementary playground lies a tiny city of roadways, adorned with real road signage (so adorable!) and a European-style roundabout. Kids can spend hours riding the mini-road system with friends or siblings, pretending to be a fat semis or cop cars.  Whatever vehicle they dream to drive, they can do it here.  If parents bring the bikes along, the family could (and should) venture out of the fenced-in area and follow the paved path onto the Roosevelt Rd. path.  The path is simple. It follows one street for a short stretch from Cleveland to Hidden Pines Trails. The perfect stretch, though, for your young bikers. What’s best is that the path is wide, paved, and vehicle free.

There is one hitch to this lovely bicycling attraction, though: once school is in session, the bike paths in the fenced area are for school children only–as they should be. But this biking destination makes for a fun after-school, weekend, or summer day activity with the kiddos. Seriously, if you have never been to this park, you must go now (and finish reading later). 

2000 Eldorado Dr, Stevensville, MI

Chikaming Township Park and Preserve Trail, Three Oaks

Recommended for young bikers and beyond

Quiet. Quaint.  And casually bike friendly. Chikaming Township Park, situated off of Warren Woods Road in Three Oaks, is a park not really known for their biking. But there is, indeed, plenty of cycling opportunities at this park. If you have young riders, families can take advantage of the long dirt drive that begins at the front parking lot and winds back through the prairie to the south pavilion. At the end of your path rests a peaceful overlook on the small inland lake. The the dirt-path round trip is roughly one mile, perfect for lil’ biking feet that can’t go too far. For the more adventurous bikers in the family, the park recently groomed some of the 263-acres for mountain bikes with trails that cut through wooded areas and tall prairie grasses. The single-track path has plenty of features off-road bikers seek, but is friendly enough for young confident riders to tackle. At this park and preserve, there is something here for every biker in your family. 

Warren Woods Rd, Three Oaks, MI

Knauf Park Trail, St. Joseph 

The Knauf Park entrance, where the trail seems to stretch on and on

Recommended for young bikers and beyond

Located off of Vineland Avenue in St. Joseph, Knauf Park is a 2.4 mile scenic stretch for both hikers and cyclers alike. For younger, less experienced riders, this is the perfect flat stretch to practice mountain biking.  The path ends near Ace Hardware along the St. Joseph River if your little cyclists are strong enough to do the full 4.8 mile round trip. While this may not be the most scenic bike ride on the list, it feels like mountain-bike terrain without all the shifting altitudes. Flat, straight, and simply perfect for our young biking enthusiasts. 

Vineland Rd, St Joseph, MI

These are only some of the many parks in our area that have pedal-friendly paths for youngsters. With cooler weather and fall colors on the way, a family outing on the bikes is a great way to enjoy this corner of the state. Bike a park, any park. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Tracy Becker