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The Battle Creek Linear Park trail encompasses nearly 26 miles of connected trails in Battle Creek. Residents use the loop trails to put some snap, crackle, and pop in their exercise routines, while visitors to “America’s Cereal City” can trek to parks, monuments, and museums located near the paths.
The city sits at the confluence of the North Branch Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Rivers, where the first settlers arrived in the 1830s and which remains a scenic part of the trail. The city later became home to the Kellogg brothers, who developed a way to make flaked breakfast cereals, launching an empire. The Kelloggs’ interests embraced general health and wellness, a theme that inspired city leaders in the 1990s to create a linear park system of trails to encourage exercise.
Self-propelled visitors can take a 10.5-mile loop that encircles the city, or shorter loops of 6.6 or 6.9 miles by splitting the long loop. Other trails head south toward Woodland Park or west toward Fort Custer State Recreation Area. Along the way, look for gardens, gazebos, benches, fountains, and historical markers. Maps are available in boxes along the trail or online at the Battle Creek Parks and Recreation website.
Beginning at the Bailey Park trailhead in the eastern end, head south (left) when you arrive at the main loop to take a clockwise tour. You’ll pass through the woods along the Battle Creek River, just across from the sprawling Kellogg Co. facility.
About 3 miles from your trailhead, you arrive at Division Street. Just off the trail, two blocks south, is Monument Park’s Sojourner Truth statue, which commemorates the ex-slave who moved to the city in 1858 and tirelessly crusaded for the abolition of slavery. Returning to the trail, you’ll see more evidence of Battle Creek’s efforts to end slavery at the Underground Railroad Sculpture. Across the park is the historic Kellogg House.
You’ll pass the 1888 Michigan Central Railroad Depot in the next block. It was later used by the New York Central and Penn Central Railroads, and lastly by Amtrak until 1982, when track owner Conrail stopped using this part of the line. In 0.5 mile, just before the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center, a side trail heads across town to the north side of the loop at Kolb Park.
Traveling along the Kalamazoo River now, you’ll reach a junction where a branch of the Linear Park Trail heads west for just under 6 miles to the Fort Custer National Cemetery, where the trail ends. Here, you can access the northeast section of the Fort Custer State Recreation Area, a 3,000-acre park with three lakes, 200 campsites, and miles of mountain biking and hiking trails through woodland and restored prairies.
Another branch off this trail heads south for 5 miles along Helmer Road past Woodland Park and Nature Preserve.
Turning north on the loop trail, you’ll enter the 85-acre Leila Arboretum, home to ornamental trees and shrubs, numerous perennial gardens, and the Kingman Museum. Continuing on the loop trail, you’ll take a serpentine route eastward for 4.1 miles back to Bailey Park. About halfway through this segment, you’ll pass Kolb Park, which has its own 1-mile loop around two lakes.
To reach the eastern trailhead parking lot at Bailey Park from I-94, take Exit 98B from the west, or Exit 98A from the east, onto northbound I-194. Go 3.8 miles—I-194 becomes Division St.—and turn right onto MI 66 E./Capital Ave. NE. Follow Capital for 2.1 miles, and turn right on E. Roosevelt Ave.; the entrance and parking area for Bailey Park will be just ahead on your left.
The best official parking for the western end of the trail is on Jackson St. W./Stringham Road, south of Babcock St. and just north of the North Branch Kalamazoo River. To reach the parking lot from MI 89 in Battle Creek, head south 0.2 mile, and look for a small parking lot on your right, just past Stringham Road. The trail begins on the north side of the river and heads southeast.
To reach the westernmost endpoint for the trail, located north of the state recreation area, take the trail southeast along the river for 0.6 mile, turn right on the trail at S. Bedford Road, and turn right onto the trail, heading west for 5 miles.
To reach parking for the southern endpoint on Helmer Road from I-94, take Exit 95, head north on Helmer Road S. for 1 mile, and turn left into the parking lot at Woodland Park and Nature Preserve. The trail endpoint is located 1 mile south along the trail, just north of I-94.
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