Grand River Greenway – Idema Explorers Trail Updates

Published on: June 26, 2023

Construction Updates – 2023

Bill Idema Moraine Nature Segment

The Bill Idema Moraine Nature Segment at Grand Ravines opened in November of 2022. This trail takes you from Grand Ravines County Park to Grand River County Park.

Jenison Mill Segment

The boardwalks and trails have been constructed and are open for use. The Secchia Grand Connection arch has also been installed. Stay tuned for a dedication event!

Construction Updates – 2022

Bill Idema Moraine Nature Segment

As you may know, Michigan’s longest river, The Grand River, has a rich natural and cultural history.  To help conserve this resource, Ottawa County Parks manages over 2400 acres of land with over 13 miles of river frontage and is actively expanding protected lands and public access to them.  A long range goal is to provide a paved greenway trail linking these properties and adjacent communities. The Bill Idema Moraine Natural Segment is the next part of this project and is due to begin at Grand Ravines North Park on August 1.  It will include trail construction along the Grand River.

As a result, the lower trails, including the covered bridge by the river at Grand Ravines Park will be closed to the public and the lower parking lot at Grand Ravines North will be blocked off as well for construction vehicles and equipment from 8/1/22 – 11/1/22. 

This segment of trail includes floodplain mitigation and boardwalk as this area is often susceptible to high water levels. Archaeology work also continues with some items of interest discovered. A report of findings will be prepared.

Jenison Mill Segment

Now that spring water levels are down, construction continues on this segment of trail. Work on bridges and boardwalks is in progress.

Published on: Dec 15, 2021

Over the past two decades, a primary focus of the Ottawa County Parks Department has been its $41 million Grand River Greenway Initiative, with the goal of protecting thousands of acres of natural lands, creating green infrastructure, developing new recreational opportunities, and connecting communities. This investment will connect the greenway properties to each other, and completing the most critical remaining unfinished link in the regional pathway system – a trail (the Idema Explorers Trail) connecting Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Grand Valley State University.

2021-2022 Updates

Significant progress continues on the Idema Explorers Trail with a flurry of activity planned for next year. Fourteen miles of the 36.5-mile route have been completed, and we anticipate that an additional 4.6 miles will be under construction across three locations in 2022. Bids were received for two sections of trail in Georgetown Township this fall, and construction is expected to begin soon (details below). Bids could be received in early 2022 for an additional section of the trail in Robinson Township. Stay tuned for updates!

To see a map of all of the entire Grand River Greenway and Idema Explorers Trail, as well as the projected schedule for each segment, please click here.

Jenison Mill Segment – Construction 2022

Planned features

  • Connection to trails in Kent County
  • Access to Millennium Park & downtown Grand Rapids
  • “Gateway Arch and Plaza” at County border
  • Bridge and boardwalk over Rush Creek and floodplain
  • Scenic riverside views and wooded wetlands

This one-mile segment of trail will be located along the riverfront and crosses Rush Creek. It will complete a three-mile stretch of trail from the Bend Area to the Kent County border, which will connect to a larger regional trail network. This segment will feature the Grand Connection arch honoring Peter Secchia, a co-chair of the Greenway Campaign who dreamed of connecting Millennium Park to Lake Michigan. The arch will mark the border between Ottawa and Kent counties. This section is funded by the Ottawa County Parks Millage, the Ottawa County Park Foundation’s Grand River Greenway Fund, Georgetown Township, and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Bill Idema Moraine Nature Segment – Construction 2022

Planned features

  • Scenic riverside/waterfront views
  • Ascent/descent from top of ravines to river level
  • Connects Grand River Park to Grand Ravines
  • New trailhead access planned at Grand River Park
  • Access to modern restroom facilities on both sides of the trail
  • Access to hiking trail systems at Grand River Park and Grand Ravines (nearly 9 miles of trails)

This 1.3-mile segment of trail will connect Grand Ravines and Grand River Park. It will feature parking access, modern restroom accommodations on the west and east sides, scenic riverfront views, and a crossing of Willow Creek. The connection between the two parks creates a seamless experience, allowing visitors to explore nine miles of paved and natural surface trails across the combined 364-acres of park.This section is funded by the Ottawa County Parks Millage, the Ottawa County Park Foundation’s Grand River Greenway Fund, and Georgetown Township.

Bayou Segment – Construction Scheduled 2022

Planned features

  • Scenic riverside/waterfront views, including a series of Grand River bayous
  • Expanded bridge over Stearns Bayou
  • Connects Grand Haven area to Greenway parks
  • Connects Grand Haven area to M-231 Grand River Bridge
  • Part of possible “Grand Crossings” loop

Completed segments

Georgetown Segment

  • Connects expanding Bend Area Open Space property to Kent County
  • Connects business districts in Jenison to Georgetown Township neighborhoods
  • Grass/Gravel trailhead on 12th Avenue with wayfinding
  • Connections to Bend Area hiking trail system, which includes 4+miles of natural surface trails with waterfront views and riverfront loop

Versluis GVSU Campus Segment

  • Safe connection from GVSU Allendale Campus/Student Housing to Grand Ravines
  • Connections to campus pedestrian/bike system
  • Access to campus amenities such as campus store, restaurants, and coffee ships
  • Connections to M-45 Business District
  • Access to amenities as food and lodging
  • Access to The Rapid transit system

Odawa Segment

  • Connects Connor Bayou to Riverside Park, with wooded route through Connor Bayou
  • Connects to M-231 Grand River River Bridge and trail network on north side of Grand River
  • Bridge trail features scenic views of river as well as Connor Bayou and Bruce Bayou
  • Part of possible “Grand Crossings” loop
  • Trailhead access at M-231 Bridge
  • Access to MDNR 120th Avenue Boat Launch
  • West terminus of possible 9 mile stretch off road and in park land


Love the parks?

Consider supporting the work of the Ottawa County Parks Foundation!

Stay Connected with Ottawa County!

Sign up for emails or text alerts and receive updates from Ottawa County.