As an outdoor enthusiast, there’s few things I love better than going out for a casual stroll or jog at a local park. Getting outside helps to clear my mind, puts me in a better mood and even gives me inspiration for my writing or for a project that I’m working on.
Fortunately, I don’t have to drive far to visit a park in Genesee County. That’s because there’s 22 county parks dotting the area, varying from nature preserves and scenic walking trails to beaches and recreational spots with playgrounds and boat ramps.
Just how dynamic is our county park’s system and its recreational venues? Well, if you’re a newcomer to the county, here’s some of the highlights: we’ve got the For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum in Burton, a 383-acre park with picturesque trails and a wide variety of natural education programs; Goldenrod Disc Golf Course in Davison, a fun and challenging 18-basket disc golf course; and Blue Bell Beach in Genesee Township, which connects to the Flint River Bike Path and is also home to a splash pad.
Let’s not forget Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad, an authentic recreation of a turn-of-the-20th century Great Lakes town with 34 historical structures and our county’s very-own Genesee Belle paddlewheel riverboat. Crossroads Village is enjoyable to visit any time of the year, but it’s especially charming at Christmastime, when all the old buildings and trains are lit up in lights and adorned to the hilt with Christmas decorations.
You name it, Genesee County Parks has it. Historical village? Check. Off-road vehicle park? Check. Canoe launches and fishing spots? Check.
Outside the county park system, we’ve got even more municipal and township parks, complete with excellent walking trails and great scenery. Some of my favorites include the Robert Williams Nature Center in Davison Township, the Flushing Township Nature Park and Jack Abernathy Regional Park in Davison.
Oddly enough, Genesee County is the only county in Michigan that doesn’t have a state park. But even that is soon to change, now that the state is investing over $25 million to transform the former Chevy Commons site in Flint into a state park with a potential amphitheater and a canoe/kayak launch.
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget just how fortunate we are to have so many parks and recreational venues in Genesee County. Perhaps we get caught up in the mad rush to “head north” for vacation. Or maybe we dwell too much on negative issues surrounding the Flint area or the ups and downs of the county’s economic state. Whatever the case, I think we tend to take for granted how much we’ve got in our own backyard.
One of our county’s greatest assets is its park system, along with the various parks and trails maintained by our local governments. We need to enjoy and protect these resources and continue to look for expansion down the road.
To see a full list of county parks and recreational offerings, visit geneseecountyparks.org. Check out the websites of our local municipalities and townships to learn more about their parks.
Ben Gagnon is a reporter with View Newspaper Group. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.