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The Portland Riverwalk ushers visitors around the charming town of Portland on 9 miles of paved trail. Also known as the Rivertrail Linear Park, the trail connects a handful of parks, scenic views overlooking the Grand and Looking Glass Rivers, and a renovated downtown that features restaurants, an ice-cream shop, and bakeries.
The trail’s backbone is a 3.5-mile rail-trail conversion that follows the route of the Ionia and Lansing Railroad, which launched operations in 1869. A series of acquisitions and mergers put it under control of the Pere Marquette Railroad in 1899 and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1947. CSX took over C&O in 1987 and subsequently stopped using this section of rail bed.
Beginning at Portland High School north of town, you’ll head east on the trail and pass beneath a canopy of maples and pines on the old rail corridor until you reach a junction at 0.9 mile. Take the left fork that follows the Grand River for 1.6 miles through the Bogue Flats Recreation Area, where you’ll find sports fields, restrooms, and turnouts overlooking the river.
Turn left as the trail returns to the railroad grade and cross the Grand River on a vintage 1899 railroad bridge, the first of three historic bridges that you’ll cross. Fishing is allowed on all of them, and you will likely see anglers casting for smallmouth bass, perch, or trout. After crossing the bridge, a spur trail on the right loops through Two Rivers Park, which fronts the Grand and Looking Glass Rivers and passes a band shell for concerts. Another side trip from the park crosses a pedestrian bridge into historic downtown Portland on a boardwalk.
Returning to the main trail, you’ll immediately cross Looking Glass River on the so-called Burroughs Street Bridge that was relocated here from its original location in Kent County, Michigan, in 1995. For the next 1.4 miles, you’ll follow the river and pass through the woodsy Community Lake park and a short tunnel beneath I-96 before making a hard right onto a multiuse path that runs along Cutler Road, Charlotte Highway, and I-96 to another Grand River bridge. Known as the Kent Street Bridge, it was built in 1907 and relocated here.
The trail rolls between Market Street and the river for 0.6 mile to Thompson Field, where it runs along the shoreline. Look here for the memorial statue of Verlen Kruger, a proponent of clean waterways who set canoeing records.
The trail hugs the Grand River shoreline for 0.7 mile until it veers left and rejoins the former rail bed at the old railroad bridge you crossed earlier (you won’t cross this time). Just past here you’ll see the historic grainery for the Portland Cooperative; the multistory building is now called the Old Red Mill and is home to a farmers market on Saturday mornings in season. From the mill, you’re 1.1 miles from Portland High School.
To reach the northern trailhead at Portland High School from I-96, take Exit 77 onto E. Grand River Ave., heading northwest. Go 1.3 miles, crossing the Grand River, and turn right (north) onto Water St. Go 1.1 miles—Water St. becomes Lyons Road—and turn left into the driveway for Portland High School. Follow the driveway for 0.2 mile, and make the first right. Look for parking near the football stadium.
Rode trail July 6 & 7 2016. This is a series of trails throughout the twin rivers area of Portland. Portland has put a lot of effort for walkers, skaters, and bikers with this trail system. A quaint little town, the trails to us are the main attraction. We did get to see local girl Shelby Miller an American Idol contestant in 2014 perform at the local outdoor band shell. Plenty of wildlife, park benches, and overlooks. Observed fly fishing on local river. Smallmouth bass and rock bass were being caught. The trail did include exercise stations in one section. Each station had two exercises with three degrees of difficulty. We thought this was unique and challenged us to workout and ride. We're 56 and were able to do most of them at varying levels of success. American Heritage Hotel butts up to trail. Hotel was affordable and clean with pool. Was a great couple of days.
This trail is beautiful, every time I ride it I see some type of wild life. I have seen deer with fawns and wild birds (by a river). There are bridges to go over with beautiful views take a pic or two. If you want to plan to eat the trail takes you by a couple of restaurants. With one big hill and several small hills I use this trail as my starter trail every year. To get my gps to read that I've done 15 miles I do have to do the main loop twice.
This is my 2nd favorite trail in Michigan. I like Lansing River trail the best. Beautiful well maintained trail that goes around the river.
This trail is just under 11 miles long and that's if you backtrack from start to finish, some of which is returning on the same pathway. The original information was in fact based on kilometers NOT miles. Personally, I rode this trail 1 time and I found it to be somewhat disappointing in quality and scenery too.
Went to Portland with my family and was very impressed with this trail. Beautiful surroundings, the road is very well maintained and the elevation map is east enough for my 6-year old daughter to make it from the beginning to end. Will probably go again in awhile.
The trail is composed of five linked trails about 10 miles total, round trip. Fun, easy ride with some hills. Well marked and maintained. Beautiful scenery.
Having read the reviews my wife and I drove from Grand Rapids to bike the Portland Trail. We parked at the high school as suggested and found the trail with a little effort. The trail was as advertised except for the length...we found it closer to 10 miles than the 15 listed. However the scenery was great, the path though now somewhat worn made for easy biking. We enjoyed the few small hills and curves in the path as well as friendly trail users. We wish the trail had been a little longer but made for a delightful morning bike ride.
Very nice trail. Fully paved (asphalt) and all off-road. Nice variety of scenery - river, woods, meadows, bridges to go over, passes under the highway, some city, etc. Easy to ride, with a few hills to keep it interesting.
The trail map on TraiLink.com says it is 14.85 miles, but we did the complete trail (starting at the high school, went around the loop and back to the high school in 45 minutes. Our usual biking pace is about 10 mph, so either we were going a lot faster than usual (we weren't) or the trail is shorter than 14.85 miles - we are wondering if the trail is actually 14.85 kilometers?
I also see that someone else mentioned an additional loop that is not on this map, and we saw some turn-offs along the trail, but they were not marked and we didn't know there was possibly another loop.
This is a great trail for a relaxing family bike ride or walk. My husband and I rode from the high school around the entire length of this on our bikes the other weekend and it was great. It's close enough to the city that you can walk into downtown and grab an ice cream or a bottle of water. We'll definitely be riding here again. It's proximity to the river allows some great bird watching too.
Please note that the high school was not easy to find. The sign is on the left side of the road and it's down a side street. Also, the trail maps near downtown show "to be completed" sections still, although the sections are completed.
This is a great ride . I ride a lot of rail trails and this is a good break from the straight and flat trails I'm use to . This trail has it all , bridges , curves , twist , hills , boardwalk , and wildlife . The surface is smooth asphalt and you no longer have to go on any streets , the loop has been completed . Portland has a beautiful city park on the Grand River with a little bit of history too. The trail could be longer , just under 15 miles , but that is my own preference . Great trail , would ride it again .
The city of Portland has done an outstanding job with this trail. Versatality would be a good word. Different sections of the trail take on a whole new feel. There is one thing about the map of this trail though, it is not up to date. There has been another loop added that goes around the Rogue Flats Recreational Area along the river. It's very nice and has interval stop offs for exercising. Very unique.
This is a really enjoyable trail network and it was quite varied - a combination of neighborhoods, the trail along the river, and a section through woods. The surface is ashphalt and was smooth and wide. To do the complete loop, however, you have to ride on some neighborhood streets. Those streets are not busy so it wasn't a problem except for Bridge Street and Charlotte Highway, where we rode on the sidewalk. The trail is easy to follow except through those neighborhood streets and I was glad I had printed to trail map to follow. They could improve the trail by adding signage. I would definitely do it again!!!
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