The Paul Henry Thornapple Trail Park is a linear park open to non-motorized use. This newest recreational resource joins Charlton Park and the McKeown Bridge Road Park as parks that are overseen by Barry County.
This linear park is operated under agreement with the Thornapple Trail Association, whose members donate time and tools to help maintain the trail. Future plans include educational signage that will be placed along the trail to emphasize the area’s natural, historic, and cultural resources.
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Features of Paul Henry – Thornapple Trail
- When complete, the trail will run approximately 42 miles between Grand Rapids and Vermontville, Michigan.
- Trail runs through Kent, Barry and Eaton counties.
- Trail’s west end is located on the Grand Rapids – Kentwood border.
- Trail passes through Dutton, Caledonia, Middleville, Irving, Hastings and Nashville.
- Trail’s east end is located in Vermontville.
- Envisioned to become an important link in a regional trail network.
- Activities include:
- Walking (please bring your pooper scooper if you bring your dog)
- Hiking and Jogging
- Cross Country Skiing
- In-Line Skating
- Wheelchair Access
- Nature Study and Bird Watching
- Completed sections of the trail have a 10 ft. wide paved surface and a gravel shoulder.
- Undeveloped sections, where open, have a variety of surfaces.
- Trail runs through:
- Small towns
Basic Trail Etiquette
- Obey all trail use rules posted on the trail.
- Stay to the right except when passing.
- Pass slower traffic on the left, yield to oncoming traffic when passing.
- Give a clear warning signal when passing: I.E. call out “Passing on your left”.
- Travel at a reasonable speed.
- Keep pets under control on a leash, and clean up after them.
- When you stop for any reason get off the paved/main trail.
- Do not litter.
- Respect private property.
- Campfires and camping are not allowed on the trail right of way.
- Do not disturb vegetation or wildlife.
Maher Audubon Sanctuary
The Maher Sanctuary contains a series of wetlands surrounded by glacial features. Wetlands include a sedge meadow, a marl pond, an extensive shrub swamp and two branches of Caine Creek. There is a nice meadow along the south loop of the main circle trail. Because of the wetlands, much of this trail is boardwalk.
From the parking area on 108th, a trail leads to the main circle trail. Other features may be reached from this trail including the trail to the artesian well in the southeastern corner of the sanctuary and the bridge across Caine Creek that leaves you on your own.
SPECIES TO BE SEEN:
A variety of wetland and woodland birds nest here and migrants pass through. Common Yellowthroat, Chipping Sparrow and Swamp Sparrow are summer residents. Nests have been found of Yellow Warbler and Gray Catbird. Look for Ruffed Grouse in any season.
Yellow-breasted Chats have been found near the marl pond. Screech Owls have been found roosting in several locations. Common Snipe may be found “winnowing” over wetlands in spring. Some of the best sightings here are plants, not birds.
Wet feet are likely if you stray from the boardwalk. Even on the trail wet and muddy areas are possible. Watch for poison ivy growing along the trail and up through the boardwalk.
A variety of experiences is possible here. Often more plants are seen than birds, but the plants are generally quite unusual. Some of the bird experiences are very memorable. Frogs, butterflies and other wildlife are common here, and it’s always an interesting place for a hike.
From Grand Rapids take I-96 east to Lowell. Exit at the Lowell exit and take Alden Nash Ave. south to 100th St. Proceed east 1/2 mile on 100th to Baker Ave. Turn right and go one mile south on Baker, which becomes Woodschool at 108th St. This is the Barry County line. The Maher Sanctuary is located on the southwest corner of Woodschool and 108th. Turn right on 108th and look for the parking area on the left (south) side of the road about 1/4 mile west of Woodschool.