Hiking in Jackson County

With almost 70 miles of planned hiking trails in Jackson County there is a trail for everyone!  If you have never hiked or hiking in your passion the most important part is actually getting out there and doing it.  Here are some simple trail tips to help you get started:

  1.  PLAN-PLAN-PLAN.  Going on a hike is an adventure but in order for it to be a success you do have to plan, especially if hiking is new to you/your family.  Look at the different trails we have available and decide which ones will work best for your situation.  We are so fortunate to have a variety of trails including everything from stroller/wheelchair accessible trails to rough terrain.

  2. Once you have decided on which trail is best for your hike now it’s time to think about gear.  Gear doesn’t have to be expensive or a big undertaking but you do have to put some thought into it.  Ensure you have broken in comfortable shoes.  The last thing you want to do is go out and buy brand new hiking shoes/boots and wear them on a 5 mile hike.  Blisters are never fun.  A good sturdy tennis shoes or hiking shoe usually does the trick.  A backpack is next on the list.  If you are going for a day hike then a medium size backpack will hold all of your necessitates.  Backpacks should be worn across the shoulder blades with the weight evenly distributed.  Backpacks shouldn’t hang low on your back – use the straps to adjust it to you.  This will keep the pressure off your neck and lower back.  For clothing dress in light layers that you can add to or take off as the day progresses (be sure and leave room in your backpack).

  3. What do I put in my backpack?  This is a frequently asked question by beginner hikers.  The question depends on what type of hike you are doing but we are going keep this simple and assume it’s a day hike.  First thing first.  Lay out your backpack and open all of the pockets.  For items you are going to want to get to in a hurry utilize the outside pockets on the backpack.  You don’t want to have to stop and dig through your entire backpack every time you want to take a drink of water.  In the outside pockets include:  water, bug spray, sunscreen, a quick snack (nuts or jerky), a raincoat/poncho, camera/phone, hand sanitizer and a safety whistle.  For water it is generally recommended that you have 8 to 10 ounces of water for every mile you intend to hike.  Water is heavy but it’s essential.  Don’t drink river or stream water, even if it looks clear that are contaminants.  Don’t forget a first aid kit and a flashlight.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry. I also keep a roll of toilet paper in my backpack.  Even if your trail has restrooms there is no guarantee that they have toilet paper in them (besides it’s light and doesn’t take up much room). 

  4. Lastly is food.  Pack items that are easy to carry, quick or no prep items (unless you are planning for a campfire) and are fulfilling.  This is not the time to eat junk food.  Fruits, vegetables and protein are good for a hike, give you energy and are easy to pack. Stop by the Summer Farmers Market by the Grand River, or the one on Michigan Ave and Waterloo to stock up on healthy, fresh snacks!

  5. Get out there and HIKE. This is a great way to spend time with the family; it’s inexpensive and can be educational.  As you hike you can identify trees, look for birds, and play the ABC game where everyone takes a turn finding something in nature with the letter of the alphabet.  If you’re not sure how to keep kids entertained on a hike here are a few websites to check out:

As with any activity the most important part of it is actually getting out there and doing it. This is a great way to spend unplugged time with your family and experience #JacksonMI Trails!

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