Lansing River Trail In Michigan

Here is everything you need to know about the Lansing River Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Michigan
  • Length: 13 miles.
  • Type: Biking.
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Lansing Parks and Recreation Department
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Lansing River Trail is a scenic pathway that winds along the banks of the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers in Lansing, Michigan. Its history dates back to the early 20th century when the rivers played a vital role in the city’s industrial development. The trail itself was not established until the late 1980s, but its roots can be traced back to the early 1900s.

In the early 1900s, the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers were bustling with activity, serving as transportation routes for the booming lumber and automotive industries in Lansing. The rivers were lined with factories, mills, and warehouses, making them the lifeblood of the city’s economy. However, as the industries declined in the mid-20th century, the rivers fell into neglect, becoming polluted and overgrown.

In the late 1980s, the idea of transforming the neglected rivers into a recreational asset for the community began to take shape. The Lansing River Trail was envisioned as a way to revitalize the rivers and provide residents with a scenic pathway for walking, jogging, and biking. The project gained momentum in 1988 when the City of Lansing received a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to develop the trail.

Over the years, the Lansing River Trail has undergone several phases of development and expansion. The initial section, known as the “Downtown Loop,” opened in 1991, connecting downtown Lansing with the Michigan State University campus. Since then, additional segments have been added, extending the trail to over 20 miles in length. Today, the Lansing River Trail is a beloved recreational resource, offering stunning views of the rivers, parks, and natural landscapes, while also serving as a reminder of the city’s industrial past.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. J.W. Sexton High School Trailhead
2. Crego Park Trailhead
3. Potter Park Zoo Trailhead
4. Moores Park Trailhead
5. Scott Park Trailhead
6. Elm Street Trailhead
7. Old Town Trailhead
8. Turner-Dodge House Trailhead
9. North Lansing Dam Trailhead
10. Burchard Park Trailhead
11. Dietrich Park Trailhead
12. Hawk Island Park Trailhead
13. South Lansing Pathway Trailhead
14. Maguire Park Trailhead
15. Valhalla Park Trailhead

Transportation Available

1. CATA Bus Service – Public bus service covering the Lansing area.
2. Uber – On-demand ride-hailing service.
3. Lyft – On-demand ride-hailing service.
4. Lime – Electric scooter and bike rental service.
5. Zipcar – Car-sharing service with vehicles available for rent by the hour or day.
6. Capital Region International Airport – Local airport offering domestic flights.
7. Amtrak – Train service with a station in East Lansing, providing regional and national travel options.
8. Greyhound – Intercity bus service with a station in Lansing.
9. Megabus – Low-cost intercity bus service with a stop in East Lansing.
10. Taxi Services – Various local taxi companies providing transportation services.


The Lansing River Trail offers several amenities for visitors to enjoy. Some of the amenities available at the trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities located at various points along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: The trail provides designated parking areas where visitors can park their vehicles before accessing the trail.

3. Camping Sites: While camping is not directly available on the Lansing River Trail, there are nearby campgrounds and parks where visitors can set up camp and then access the trail for recreational activities.

4. Picnic Areas: The trail features several designated picnic areas where visitors can relax, have a meal, and enjoy the scenic views.

5. Benches and Seating: Throughout the trail, there are numerous benches and seating areas where visitors can take a break, rest, or simply enjoy the surroundings.

6. Water Fountains: There are water fountains available along the trail to keep visitors hydrated during their activities.

7. Bike Repair Stations: The trail provides bike repair stations equipped with tools and air pumps to assist cyclists in case of any mechanical issues.

8. Wayfinding Signage: The trail is well-marked with wayfinding signage to help visitors navigate and find their way along the trail.

9. Dog-Friendly Areas: The Lansing River Trail allows dogs on leashes, providing pet owners with the opportunity to enjoy the trail with their furry companions.

10. Scenic Overlooks: The trail offers various scenic overlooks where visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the river, parks, and surrounding landscapes.

These are some of the amenities available at the Lansing River Trail, ensuring a pleasant and convenient experience for all visitors.

Nearby Services

1. Radisson Hotel Lansing at the Capitol – Upscale hotel offering comfortable accommodations near the Lansing River Trail.
2. Lansing City Market – Vibrant marketplace with various food vendors and dining options along the Lansing River Trail.
3. Lansing Brewing Company – Local brewery and restaurant serving craft beers and delicious food near the Lansing River Trail.
4. Sparrow Hospital – Nearby emergency medical services for any medical emergencies along the Lansing River Trail.
5. Quality Inn University – Affordable hotel option located close to the Lansing River Trail.
6. Soup Spoon Café – Cozy café offering a variety of soups, sandwiches, and other comfort foods near the Lansing River Trail.
7. Sparrow Urgent Care – Convenient urgent care facility for any non-life-threatening medical needs along the Lansing River Trail.
8. Radisson Hotel Lansing – Convenient hotel option with modern amenities near the Lansing River Trail.
9. Lansing Fire Department – Emergency fire and rescue services available for any emergencies along the Lansing River Trail.
10. Lansing Police Department – Local law enforcement services ensuring safety along the Lansing River Trail.

Lansing River Trail Difficulty Notes

The Lansing River Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for outdoor enthusiasts. The trail spans approximately 20 miles, providing a diverse range of terrains and landscapes to explore. While the majority of the trail is paved and suitable for all skill levels, there are sections that feature gravel or natural surfaces, which may require more effort and caution. Additionally, the trail includes some gentle inclines and descents, adding a slight challenge to the overall experience. Overall, the Lansing River Trail offers a balanced difficulty level that can be enjoyed by both beginners and experienced hikers, bikers, and runners.

Features And Attractions

1. Potter Park Zoo: Located along the Lansing River Trail, Potter Park Zoo is a popular attraction that houses a variety of animals and offers beautiful views of the river.

2. Brenke Fish Ladder: This fish ladder is a unique structure that allows fish to migrate upstream. It offers a scenic view of the river and the opportunity to observe fish in their natural habitat.

3. Old Town Lansing: As you walk along the Lansing River Trail, you’ll come across Old Town Lansing, a historic district with charming shops, restaurants, and art galleries. It’s a great place to explore and learn about the city’s history.

4. Impression 5 Science Center: Situated near the trail, the Impression 5 Science Center is a hands-on museum that offers interactive exhibits for children and adults. It’s a great place to stop and learn while enjoying the scenic views.

5. Michigan State Capitol: The Lansing River Trail passes by the Michigan State Capitol, a stunning building with beautiful architecture. Take a moment to admire the grandeur of this historical landmark.

6. Turner-Dodge House and Heritage Center: This historic house museum is located near the trail and offers guided tours to visitors. It provides a glimpse into the city’s past and showcases the architectural beauty of the era.

7. Moores Park: A picturesque park along the Lansing River Trail, Moores Park offers a playground, picnic areas, and stunning views of the river. It’s a perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature.

8. Scott Sunken Garden: Located within the Lansing River Trail, the Scott Sunken Garden is a beautifully landscaped garden with vibrant flowers and a tranquil atmosphere. It’s a great place to take a break and enjoy the scenery.

9. Adado Riverfront Park: This park is situated along the trail and offers a variety of recreational activities, including walking paths, picnic areas, and a riverfront amphitheater. It’s a popular spot for events and festivals.

10. Lansing City Market: The Lansing City Market is a vibrant marketplace located near the trail. It features local vendors, fresh produce, and a variety of food options. Take a break from your walk and explore the market.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks that you can experience along the Lansing River Trail.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles and pedestrians should yield to horses and give them ample space.
4. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail, except for authorized maintenance vehicles.
5. No camping or overnight stays are permitted on the trail.
6. Fires and open flames are strictly prohibited.
7. Use caution and follow posted signs during hunting seasons.
8. Fishing is allowed in designated areas only, following state fishing regulations.
9. No littering – please dispose of trash in designated bins.
10. Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
11. Stay on designated trails and do not trespass onto private property.
12. Be mindful of other trail users and maintain a safe speed.
13. Use designated restrooms and facilities for personal needs.
14. Alcohol and illegal substances are not permitted on the trail.
15. Observe seasonal restrictions, such as closures during winter months or flood conditions.
16. Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at specific trail sections or access points.

Seasonal Information

The Lansing River Trail is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers throughout the year. However, there are certain times of the year that offer a more enjoyable experience for visitors. The best times to visit the Lansing River Trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant colors as flowers bloom and trees regain their lush green foliage. The weather is usually mild, making it perfect for hiking, biking, or simply strolling along the trail. Fall is equally beautiful, with the changing leaves creating a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities.

During the summer months, the Lansing River Trail can get quite busy, especially on weekends. The warm weather attracts a large number of visitors, including families and tourists. While summer offers longer daylight hours and the opportunity to enjoy water activities like kayaking or fishing, it is important to plan your visit accordingly to avoid crowds. Weekdays or early mornings are generally less crowded, allowing you to fully appreciate the tranquility of the trail.

It is worth noting that the Lansing River Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions in certain areas. During the winter months, sections of the trail may be closed due to snow or ice accumulation, making it unsafe for use. It is advisable to check the trail’s official website or contact local authorities for up-to-date information on closures and conditions before planning your visit. Despite these closures, winter can still be a beautiful time to explore the trail, especially after a fresh snowfall when the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland.

Overall, the Lansing River Trail offers a delightful experience throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring, the warm days of summer, or the peacefulness of winter, there is always something to enjoy along this scenic trail. Just be sure to plan your visit accordingly, considering the best times to avoid crowds and any potential seasonal closures.


1. Paved Surfaces: The Lansing River Trail features paved surfaces throughout its entire length, ensuring smooth and accessible pathways for wheelchair users.
2. Wide Pathways: The trail offers wide pathways, allowing ample space for wheelchair users to navigate comfortably alongside other trail users.
3. Accessible Entrances: The entrances to the Lansing River Trail are designed to be accessible, featuring ramps or curb cuts for easy wheelchair entry.
4. Rest Areas: The trail includes designated rest areas with benches and seating, providing opportunities for wheelchair users to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
5. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are available along the trail, equipped with features such as grab bars and wider doorways to accommodate wheelchair users.
6. Signage: The trail is equipped with clear and visible signage, including accessible maps and directional signs, to assist wheelchair users in navigating the trail.
7. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trail entrances, ensuring convenient access for wheelchair users.
8. Trail Loops: The Lansing River Trail offers various loop options, allowing wheelchair users to choose routes of different lengths and difficulty levels.
9. Accessible Picnic Areas: The trail features accessible picnic areas with tables and seating designed to accommodate wheelchair users.
10. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are available along the trail, ensuring hydration options for all users.
11. Accessible Fishing Platforms: The trail provides accessible fishing platforms, allowing wheelchair users to enjoy fishing activities along the river.
12. Accessible Overlooks: The Lansing River Trail includes accessible overlooks, providing scenic views of the river and surrounding areas for wheelchair users.
13. Trail Maintenance: The trail is regularly maintained to ensure accessibility, with efforts made to repair any potential barriers or hazards that may affect wheelchair users.
14. Accessible Trailheads: The trailheads are designed to be accessible, featuring accessible parking, ramps, and clear signage for easy access.
15. Accessible Crossings: The trail includes accessible crossings at road intersections, equipped with curb cuts and audible signals to assist wheelchair users in safely crossing.

Safety Information

When visiting the Lansing River Trail, it is important to keep the following safety information in mind:

1. Stay aware of your surroundings: Always be alert and aware of your surroundings while on the trail. Pay attention to other trail users, cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians.

2. Use designated crossings: Cross the road or intersections only at designated crossings. Look both ways before crossing and obey traffic signals.

3. Stay on the trail: Stick to the designated trail and avoid venturing into restricted or private areas. This ensures your safety and respects the privacy of others.

4. Share the trail: The Lansing River Trail is a multi-use trail, so be considerate of other users. Cyclists should yield to pedestrians, and everyone should use proper trail etiquette, such as signaling when passing.

5. Be visible: If you are using the trail during low-light conditions or at night, wear reflective clothing or use reflective gear to make yourself more visible to others.

6. Stay hydrated: Carry water with you, especially during hot weather, to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and other health issues.

7. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear for walking, running, or cycling. Dress in layers to adjust to changing weather conditions.

8. Use sunscreen: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by applying sunscreen before heading out on the trail, especially during sunny days.

9. Carry a cell phone: Keep a fully charged cell phone with you in case of emergencies. It can be helpful to have a means of communication readily available.

10. Report any suspicious activity: If you notice any suspicious or illegal activities while on the trail, report them to the local authorities or trail management.

Remember, safety is a shared responsibility, so always be mindful of others and follow these guidelines to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience on the Lansing River Trail.

Conservation Notes

The Lansing River Trail is a significant conservation area that plays a crucial role in preserving the natural environment and wildlife habitats in the Lansing region. As a designated conservation area, the trail is actively managed and protected to ensure the long-term sustainability of its ecosystems. The conservation status of the Lansing River Trail is of utmost importance, as it supports a diverse range of plant and animal species.

Efforts are made to maintain the trail’s conservation status by implementing various conservation practices. These include regular monitoring and assessment of the trail’s ecological health, as well as the implementation of restoration projects to enhance and protect the natural habitats along the trail. Conservationists work diligently to control invasive species that may threaten the native flora and fauna, ensuring the preservation of the trail’s biodiversity.

The conservation status of the Lansing River Trail also involves the protection of water quality in the adjacent river. Measures are taken to prevent pollution and maintain the health of the river ecosystem. This includes the implementation of erosion control practices, the promotion of responsible waste management, and the enforcement of regulations to prevent harmful activities that could degrade the water quality.

Overall, the conservation status of the Lansing River Trail is actively managed and protected to preserve its ecological integrity. Through ongoing efforts, the trail continues to provide a valuable habitat for wildlife, support biodiversity, and offer a natural space for the community to enjoy while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Lansing region’s natural resources.

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