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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.
This is NOT a rails to trails, there is NO rail grade anywhere, this shouldn't even be listed as one. This trail is far beyond need of rehabilitation, parts of the trail seem to have been ripped up making for uneven and nasty surfaces...and that was some of the better spots. 6" high "speedbumps" cover the trail where roots came up under the trail, tons of large deep cracks as well. Even watching and knowing the trail was unmarked, we had to backtrack as we missed the turn.
This is by far the worst trail I've rode in years, I will not be back and shame on RTT for even listing it.
My wife and I visited Battle Creek for the first time solely to ride this trail Sunday. Even after reading some reviews and seeing "poorly marked" noted several times, we decided since it was relatively close to home (75 minutes or so) we'd give it a try. We started at Friendship Park downtown since it looked like it was smack in the middle of the trail, but when we got to the park there wasn't a trail sign or marking to be found, at least that we could see. Most of the downtown area is closed on Sunday, it was like a ghost town at noon. We drove around for 30 minutes following both Google Maps and the map found on this site, and finally figured out where the trail was (we thought). We unloaded and started riding, following what we thought was the Linear Park trail, only find that after a mile or so of turning around and riding in circles, it was not even the actual trail. Once we found the proper path, the ride was choppy in the downtown area... lots of stops for cross streets, still having to stop and check street names and such because the trail was not marked at all in town. Riding out of town we started feeling much better about it. It follows the river for a ways and the scenery is very nice. We got to a sports complex that we vaguely identified on the trail map, saw the dotted line for the trail on the map, but again there were no markings at the outer edge of the park that identified where the trail continued for us to do the entire loop. We ended up doubling back to where we started and then rode out a ways in the other direction. Again, the actual Linear Park trail veered off on a city street to loop around at the other end of town, but there were no signs at all noting that. We ended up continuing for about 3 miles on a trail that connected to someplace else and had no way of knowing how to get back to the Linear Park path without doubling back. So again, we had to double back and try to find where the turn was for the Linear Park loop. Once we found it, we again were happy with the scenery, and the trail goes through the Leila Arboretum which offers some more challenging terrain. But soon after that the trail again goes through residential areas with sidewalks in every direction at the intersections, and very little signage to indicate which direction to go to stay on the actual bike path. It's almost embarrassing to note that the perimeter loop is supposedly 10.5 miles.... with all the doubling back and circling around to try to stay on track, we rode over 25 miles. No, not kidding. No, it wasn't on purpose. No, we're not idiots, either, just determined to find the whole trail. :)
So all in all, it was a disappointment. This "trail" has some great potential, but there are a lot of things working against it, and most of those could be avoided or easily corrected. Here are some of our observations:
1) The trail is badly overgrown in most of the areas outside the downtown area.
2) There is a serious need for more signage and trail markings. Seriously. If you don't know this city, it's nearly impossible to follow the trail at times.
3) The trail crosses several busy roads with no warning signs for cars, no way to signal when you cross. It's like playing Frogger on a Trek hybrid. It's downright dangerous at 2 crossings in particular.
4) When in residential areas with sidewalks in all 4 directions at intersections, your best bet is to follow the sidewalk that is asphalt instead of the lighter colored concrete... most times that's the only indicator of which sidewalk is the actual trail.
5) At a few intersections or other transition areas, look for small, white signs that read "no motor vehicles". Most often that's the only marking for some sort of trail entrance across the street. You can't always see the path itself, so at times these signs (when they actually have them) are the only way you know there is a path across the street.
This city has put a tremendous amount of money in the downtown area. Parks everywhere, a beautiful river walk, seemingly nice restaurants (most were closed... we'd recommend Clara's on the River... very nice after our ride), etc. But once you leave the downtown area, things get pretty run down in a hurry. This could be a great trail and a destination for cyclists... but as it is it will be a one-and-done for us. No reason to ride this one again until they clean it up and get it marked a little better.
Just for note, we aren't trail snobs. We don't expect every trail we ride to be laid out, groomed, and marked perfectly. We ride a lot of rails-to-trails routes and we go looking for trails like this that potentially offer some fun off the bike kicking around in the downtown areas. Unfortunately, Battle Creek is shut down on Sundays (apparently they make extra cereal on Saturdays so the city can close up on Sunday) so we were pretty discouraged.
I ride trails a lot and will ride trails close to my home over and over because they are close. I ride trails as I travel and there are many that I will ride again if I'm in the area. Battle Creek Linear Park is NOT on my list of "ride again". I thought the trail was very rough in spots, it is not always well marked. This trail is in need of maintenance - low, overhanging branches, twigs, rocks, sand, etc on the trail. There are remote trails that I am not afraid to ride alone, but I sure was glad my husband was with me on this one. He even said he did not feel safe at times.
Started out a little difficult with the inability to determine exactly where the trail started at Brady & Dickman. The trail was easily found but nothing marked for parking. Very industrial and concerned may get towed while riding. Ended up driving into Battle Creek and starting near the Underground Railroad monument. Was also told it connects to the trail that starts at Bridges Park but not sure how. Overall nice ride. Had lunch at Arcadia Brewery. Fun Day!
GF and I rode this trail July 3rd. Started near downtown near the Kellogg House. Looked for trail maps as the Rails-Trails guide suggested. First box was missing alltogether, second box was empty. On the left in the wooded area was a large group of homeless people hanging out. Be aware of them as you ride by. Trail was smooth but poorly marked. Not sure how much of it we missed based on the map in the trail guide. Overall a nice ride along the river, pretty scenery but needs better signage!!
We parked at Friendship Park and headed west along the river, eventually turning around when we hit Dickman Rd. I'm used to trails that have regular markings and was very annoyed at the lack of signage here. We had to guess which way to go in a couple spots, and were not always correct. Other people have said that phones/GPS could be used, but sometimes the point of getting out is to get away from technology. Wherever we saw spots where maps would have been, they were empty, which was disappointing. The pavement is mostly good, but there are some rough spots along the entire length that we traveled. Overall, we had a good day, but a few small things would have made it even better.
I am so glad I did not take my road bike, I would of had a flat for sure. This trail is poorly maintained as well as marked, we twice took the wrong way. Large tree in the path from the looks of it, it was there a long time. I would not waste my time on this trail. Many others much better out there.
We found the trail and parking very easy to use and the trail in excellent shape. I am surprised about comments of no maps and or need more markers. This must be that generation of phone books. People don't use them anymore. EVERYTHING We needed we used our cell phones. BTW, your cell phone can also be used as a flashlight.
Happy Trailing :)
The trail itself, once we found it, was nice along the river. Would be nice if there were more markers along the trail.
WOW, what an improvement. I was just shocked riding my bike down Wagner Drive through C.O. Brown stadium all the way up to Kellogg Community College. Its all brand NEW asphalt. A very smooth ride. I LOVE all the new improvements! They replaced the bad lumber that was on the boardwalk that runs along the rivers edge and then repainted the entire boardwalk along Wagner Drive. They also freshened up the sand around the playground area and I noticed new bike lane signage posted along the roadway. Today, a brand NEW asphalt parking lot was being installed at C.O. Stadium. The Linear Park trail is now in tip top shape. What an enjoyable ride. Hats off to the team of people who have worked on this project all summer long. JOB WELL DONE! :)
Getting more ambitious, we decided to try the Linear Trail this week. We could not start out at the Trail Head on the west part of the trail as the parking was taken up by milk semi trucks. We started at a different location and rode to the trailhead so we could say we did the entire trail. It had rained on the way to the trail. This left some of the bridges wet and slippery that were in the wooded areas. The pavement is in need of repair in many areas but overall the trail was very exciting. The trail is not very well marked and we were not sure which way to go a few times.
I enjoyed riding through town and the parks are beautiful.
I will do this trail again and spend more time in the downtown area.
We went to the Trail Head on the West of the trail to find the parking lot full of Milk trailers and no place to park. We ended up having to park further up the trail, riding back to where we wanted to start and back-tracking to where we parked. There is one bridge in the forest that very slick that caused me to wipe out and fall. It was just after a morning rain and the bridge has a lot of moss (green stuff on it). A lot of the pavement in this area and north side of town trail needs some work. There are lot of holes, decaying pavement and roots growing under the pavement. Overall it was a good ride with a lot of scenic areas. Next time, I intend to spend more time downtime riding around. Was very nice around that area.
I took a trip to Battle Creek on August 9, 2014 to ride this trip. First big tip - there is NO trailhead on Dickman any longer. We actually parked on Jackson Street along the river - although it is secluded. This is the most west you can safely park at this time.
The rest of the path is a mix of old and new. About 7 or 8 miles have been recently repaved (as in within a week or two), and the rest is old, with a few sections showing root damage. All asphalt throughout however. The path does have some separated grade crossings, but there are a couple of busy at-grade crossings to deal with. The signage is weak, and you really need a map due to a few divergent paths along the way. We only saw two port-a-potties, but there are businesses will be of help too (like Walgreens).
Overall the big selling point is the variety of land uses the trail runs through - mostly along the river and through large parks. The north part of the loop is quite hilly, so make sure to go counterclockwise to take advantage - or the other way if you want a real workout. The highlight was a stop along a boardwalk by a dam with a small waterfall flowing over it.
This path goes right into their downtown so take advantage of the offerings. I would recommend it, and the system is one of the better paths I have encountered that connects you to the entire city.
We decided to drive to Battle Creek and ride the Battle Creek Linear Park last Saturday morning. We parked at Bailey Park and headed out along the river route toward downtown.
This part of the trail is in fair to good condition with lots of scenery and interesting sites. Surprisingly, there were very few people on the trail making travel easy. While not well marked, it was fairly easy to follow since the trail followed the river. We continued on the trail to 20th Street where we took the loop back to Bailey Park.
The loop portion travels through a wide variety of neighborhoods. We were especially surprised at how close the trail passed by a couple of elementary schools. The trail condition, with the exception of the newly paved portion near Kellogg Community College, was in fair to very poor condition. Along with avoiding a sandpit at the bottom of a hill in one section, the trail was littered with broken glass. At several points we were glad we had printed out a map for guidance as to which direction to search as there was a lack of signage showing where the trail continued.
Overall, we plan to return and ride the entire river section, but won't risk punctured tires or sand traps in the loop section. The trail is growing old and in need of repaving and better maintenance and signage, but has a number of scenic sections which make the ride enjoyable.
My fiance and I were visiting friends in the area over the holiday weekend and needed somewhere to get in our long run; after mapping the area via mapmyrun.com I stumbled upon the Battle Creek Linear Path and our problems were solved! We parked in the gravel lot at the farthest end of Jackson St. and ran to Battle Creek Christian School and back. (For 13 miles total) We enjoyed the views, especially downtown, and ran in to lots of deer on the path but not so many runners until later in the morning (prob because we started about 6:15 am on a Sunday). Our only complaint? No porta-potties! :( Thankfully we found one at the playing fields at B.C. Christian but it would've been nice to have had one at least at one of any of the many gravel lots we passed for parking and/or somewhere downtown. Otherwise, great trail, loved the wooden bridges and the dips into the woods. If we're ever in the area again, we'll definitely be running here.
I rode the trail today end to end, scenic at each end, but more interesting downtown. The signage is indeed very poor but it is hard to get lost because the trail follows the north bank of the rivers most of the way. The best access point with ample parking is at Bailey Park on the eastern end (corner of Capitol NE and Roosevelt). The eastern portion of the trail is also the most scenic so make sure you stop at the observation decks. The western end is a different story: The trail runs into the bike trail following M96 (Dickman Rd) at Brady St. There are no signs and there is no public parking lot on the corner, but if you follow Brady St into the bleak industrial neighborhood past the railroad tracks there is a large unmarked (public?) parking lot next to the trail just before the street dead ends into a car parts factory parking lot. An alternative parking lot dedicated to trail parking is on the river bank immediately east of North Bedford on Jackson St. A map of the trail system surrounding this trail is available online as a printable PDF file at http://www.bcparks.org/jsps/linear_park.jsp and also at boxes on the trail downtown near the Underground Railroad Sculpture (at Division street trail crossing). The trail is also unmarked at the left turn off Capitol Ave (Shell Station on the corner) if you want to take the loop to Kellogg Comm College up a good sized hill. The trail condition varies even though it is all paved. The older portions have roots causing unevenness of the pavement and the boardwalk sections are showing their age but it was good to see some recently replaced boards. For a nice break, stop at the restaurant in the old train station with outdoor seating right on the trail and also take a look inside this beautifully restored old building.
after an hour of trying to find where to get on the trail at west end and parking we finally got on . We lucked out on perfect weather in early spring and the trail along the river was most enjoyable. Some parts had heaving pavement so you had to watch and prepare yourself for the bumps. All in all a wonderful trail mostly well maintained. Sometimes it would seem you lost the trail . A detailed map in hand would have been good to have. Just wish we lived closer so we could enjoy it more often. Looking forward to going back again. If you have time to plan ahead try to get detailed map of Battle Creek.
My husband and I tried this trail today. We started at the Bradley trailhead. Not really a place to park but being that it was Saturday we did finally decided to park in one of the industrial lots. The trail on this end has many crack, holes, and grass growing up in it. When we got closer to Battle Creek we ran into trouble because of the oil spill on the Kalamazoo River. We crossed a bridge over the river only to find the trail blocked off, probably because of the spill. Also, don't stop on the trail when in the woods portion because you will be swarmed by mosquitos. A little bug spray would be wise, or just keep moving if possible. The scenery by the river is beautiful. Maybe we will try again once the oil clean up is over.
We agree on the signage issue. It is very difficult to find the western trailhead even with the directions provided. There is no marked parking for the trail, nor any sign to tell you where it begins. There are several private businesses with parking lots. Right on Dickman Rd and N. Brady Rd. there is a sign announcing the trail, but the only information on it is about Fort Custer. There are no trail maps on the signs and no paper maps or brochures anywhere we could find.
Since it was Sunday, we parked in one of the business lots and started on what we thought was the trail since it had signs that said "No Motor Vehicles". It turned out to be the trail, but when we came to a bridge, the trail forked with no sign indicating which fork led where. One went under the bridge, and it was obviously newer asphalt so we went that way thinking it was a new way to safely get past the bridge. The trail followed Helmer Rd. which is busy, noisy and ugly with businesses and light industry until it came to a dead end at Dickman Rd. near the airport.
We followed it back to the bridge and tried the other way which led to the north side of the river and the trail to downtown Battle Creek. Sadly, we didn't have time to follow this all the way.
The trail is bumpy despite being paved, so on some of the long down hills, it isn't safe to let gravity take you up to high speed. It is a pretty trail along the river.
A recent storm had felled a number of trees which had been cut and moved off the trail, so there is some maintenance going on.
We agree with the reviewer who said to print and bring the trail map.
"I made the short commute from Kalamazoo over to Battle Creek to ride this trail. I had quiet a time finding the western trailhead. I ended up parking where the trail crosses hemler road. The river is beautiful to ride next to. All 22 miles of the trail were very well maintained and clean. The trail proper is extremely hard to following downtown BC, so remember that your on the River trail, thus follow the river. I rode on the river trail from west to east for 22 miles ending at the minor league baseball stadium. Id suggest parking at the McDonalds by the stadium. From here you can take the trail i rode on or take another one that meanders through more residential areas. Downtown is a good half way point and offers good eating places as well as a bike shop. All and all it was a very nice linear trail. I'd give it an 8 out of 10."
"Print the pdf map of the trail from the trail's website and have it with you or you will be lost, as trail is very poorly signed. Great scenery along rivers. We rode 22 miles encompassing the whole city. Paved, but rough in spots. Drinking water hard to find,not noted on map. Very large bike shop downtown between two tallest building helped us out with vital repair. Great Zoo also just south of Battle Creek. "
"I have been up and down the trail along the river many times and always liked the idea that there was a bench along the way to stop and enjoy the river, trees and the geese that swim there. It's a wonderfull place to go.
If anyone is out for a fun family bike outing this is just the place. The linear park also has a playground for children and plenty of places for parents to sit and watch and relax.
It's a wonderful place."
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