Portland, Michigan, is known as the City of Two Rivers, and the 8-mile Portland Riverwalk could well be called the Trail of Two Rivers. The paved rail-trail serves as a spine for a series of connecting trails, loops and city paths that circle Portland for approximately 15 miles. Locally, the trail is also called Rivertrail Linear Park.
The trail is suburban by location but quiet enough to make you think you are in the country. Built and maintained by the Portland Parks and Recreation Department, the path connects schools and five parks, and follows the Grand and Looking Glass rivers. Be sure to bring your camera because there are four historic bridges, one railroad trestle bridge and three steel-truss bridges over the rivers and through the woods along the river.
A good place to start is at Portland High School, where a slight downhill carries trail users through a canopy of maples and pines. After only 0.75 mile you can choose to turn onto a spur trail that enters the Bogue Flats Recreation Area of soccer and baseball fields, and then follows the Grand River for a short distance, with many scenic turnouts overlooking the river. Stop, sit on a bench and listen to all that nature has to say.
Returning to main trail, 0.5 mile farther along than where you left it, a lovely old railroad bridge takes you over the Grand River. This is the first of three bridges, all of which allow fishing; you will likely see anglers casting for smallmouth bass, perch or trout from the structures. On the far side of the bridge another spur loops through a residential area and back to the trail; a spur from that loop heads into the historic part of town for shopping, restaurants, banks and insurance offices.
Back on the main trail, you follow the Looking Glass River for a short distance and pass an observation deck and gazebo, where you can relax. As the trail continues at the south end of town, you pass under the interstate, where the trail turns right and leaves the old railroad bed to become a city trail. The trail continues along, separated from the road until you make another right turn and go back under the interstate again.
When you return to the city trail behind the elementary school, it is smooth sailing. Trees lining the trail provide a picturesque tunnel back to the Grand River. Now used exclusively for trail travel, the third steel truss bridge you've crossed transports you across the river. At this point, Mile 11, you head back into town within feet of the Grand River and cut through Brush Street and Thompson parks. A fourth steel truss bridge, built at the turn of the century, returns you to the main trail. When you reach the main trail again, turn right (west) and follow the trail back through the tree canopy straight to your starting point.
Parking and Trail Access
This trip is a loop. To reach the main trailhead, take Exit 77 off of I-96. Turn right on Grand River Road and go 1.25 miles to Water Street/Lyons Road. Turn right and follow the road for 1 mile to Portland High School. Turn left into the school driveway then right to stay on the west side of the school.
The trail starts on the west side of the school between the football field and tennis courts. Parking is available in the school parking lot. The Bogue Flats Recreation Area has restrooms and parking.