Variety of nature trails around GVSU available to Lakers

By Kyle Bindas | 9/11/16 9:34pm

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GVL / Luke Holmes - Jacob Salter and Casey Malburg go for a run around Grand Valley's campus.


With fall right around the corner and the trees about to transform into abundant autumn colors, there is no better time to get outside and experience nature. Fortunately, Grand Valley State University has some great places to do so, right in its backyard.

GVSU is home to many trails that showcase the natural beauty of the surrounding area, many of which are located just a short walk from classroom buildings or student housing.

The largest network of these trails are the Ravines trails. These provide an easy way to navigate through the steep hills of the ravines and down to the Grand River. These trails also provide access to the GVSU boathouse.

Students often use the trails for running paths, including Paige Arney, a sophomore at GVSU and avid runner who prefers running on the trails in the ravines over running on a treadmill.

“It’s nice going in the trail because you get that breath of fresh air," Arney said. "It releases stress better because you’re by yourself for the most part, and it’s just nice scenery. It’s nice looking at something other than walls and other people all the time.”

Entrances to the Ravines trails are located at the back of parking lot D, behind the William F. Pickard Living Center, at the end of parking lot O near the Alexander Calder Residence building and at the end of the Grand Valley Apartments.

In addition to being used by students as hiking and running paths, the ravines are used by faculty for teaching and research purposes.

If the Ravines seem like too much of a hike for some students, there is a slice of nature right in the heart of campus.

The GVSU arboretum features several short wooded trails and an open field. It provides a place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of campus, while still being inside of it.

Founded in 1989, the arboretum was originally part of a sustainability project. For every ton of paper the university recycled, a new tree would be planted. This program earned GVSU an award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Today, many Lakers use the arboretum to set up a hammock or enjoy a picnic and escape the stress of school.

The newest addition to GVSU’s collection of trails is the Tower Trail. The Tower Trail, which opened in March, consists of about 2.5 miles of pathways, said GVSU arborist Steve Snell.

This trail runs through the storm retention area and broadcast equipment located in the southwest part of campus, near Laker Village.

To get to the trail, go to the back of parking lot J, behind Laker Village and other behind the outdoor soccer fields. There are signs posted next to the entrances.

The huge variety of trails and easy access to nature takes advantage of GVSU’s natural surroundings, as well as give students a unique way to relax.

“Outdoor trails on the Allendale Campus provide a unique aspect of the institution where students can walk and enjoy the natural beauty of our university setting,” said Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president of facilities services via email.

“It’s probably the best way to destress yourself from classes and everything. Even if you’re just walking around or hiking,” Arney said. “You don’t realize how stressed you are until you go out there, and it just releases everything.”

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