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As part of my continuing Destination Lansing series, I bring you Hawk Island County Park. Once a gravel pit (many of the older members of our church remember swimming there back in the days before there was “public safety”) Hawk Island has been transformed into one of the best parks I’ve ever been to.

Indian Summer at Hawk Island

The pit was cleaned out, filled with water, and stocked with fish. There are pedal boats and picnic shelters to rent, a great playground, a beach and a splash pad, volleyball courts, horseshoes, picnic tables galore, a dog park nearby, and plenty of gently rolling, well-maintained lawns for relaxing on a blanket with a good book or getting a tan.

Playing at Hawk Island

The Lansing River Trail runs right through it, making it easily accessible by bike, foot, or rollerblades. CATA bus route 18 will get you there, as will your car. There is a fee to park, so I suggest getting the yearlong parking pass as it will save you lots of money and encourage you to get out there and use the parks our taxes maintain!

Father and Son at Hawk Island

On days when it’s above 40 degrees, we usually hop on the River Trail (I’ll post on this awesome Lansing feature in the future) near where it splits off to go to Michigan State University and ride roughly south through Potter Park and Scott Woods. Gorgeous ride at any time of year.

The Trail to Hawk Island

And as much as we love Hawk Island in the warm months, it is now equally awesome in the winter. When the picnic tables are all stacked and leaned against trees and the splash pad is covered with snow, Hawk Island’s new tubing and snowboarding hill takes center stage. Tow ropes take you up the hill of groomed snow (which they make, so no worries that the snow cover has been light this year) and then you head down, either sitting in one of their tubes on one side of the tow ropes or on your own snowboard or skis on the other. There are jumps and rails for the snowboarders, and it is loads of fun to watch them as you sit in your tube and get pulled up the hill.

Open in the evening on weekdays from 4pm until 9pm and from 10am to 9pm on weekends, Hawk Island Snow Park is, in my mind, the best new thing to come to Lansing. We enjoyed a gorgeous evening there a couple weeks ago with friends, the beautiful sun setting behind light clouds making everything glow. And a nice bonus was that all the people who were working on the hill that night were very nice (and in an age when good, cheerful service seems hard to come by, the employees of the Ingham County Parks System should be commended as they are invariably, in my experience, both competent and considerate).

I’m a big proponent of not letting weather keep you inside. If you have the right attitude and dress correctly for winter, you can thoroughly enjoy being outside in the fresh, invigorating air. Layer up your clothes, get some adult snowpants, wear good boots, get off your duff, and go have some fun!