Linus Palmer Park
The Linus Palmer Park is an oasis of nature in the middle of suburban Wyoming Michigan. It is owned and operated by Kent County, along with the L. E . Kaufman Golf Course, which runs in and out of the park.
I go there from the time the park “closes” at the end of October, until it “opens” again the first of May. It can be crowded there, even in the winter, as the county rents cross-country skis at the club house for the golf course part of the park, and grooms the trails in the park for the skiers. I would imagine that it is very crowded in the summer time, as the facilities include baseball diamonds, picnicking, a playground, an open shelter house, and rest rooms, so it is a family type park when it is actually open.
During the winter when I go there it isn’t too bad, having that much activity and the trails groomed makes for easy walking when the snow is too deep to go other places, and it’s about a mile from where I live, so it’s quick and easy to get there.
The golf course wraps around the main part of the park, and that is all open of course, but the center part of the park is wooded, with a wide variety and age of trees. Buck Creek runs through the park, and there are a few small ponds and old creek channels that serve as wetlands. There is more wildlife there than you would think there would be in a park with in the city of Wyoming. I have seen just about every species of wildlife that makes its home in southern Michigan there, and the number of deer in the park will really surprise you.
There is a quite elaborate system of trails with in the park, and all are well-marked, and well used. I normally walk up the trail on the west side of the park to start, and when you get to Buck Creek, there is a boardwalk that continues along Buck Creek to the intersection of 44th Street and Burlingame Ave. If you walk north on Burlingame, the boardwalk continues on along Buck Creek for miles. I have never gone to the end, I normally turn around at the end of the first segment and go back into the park itself. But, I have walked a ways along the boardwalk, and it is a nice hike as well, although it seems as though you are in people’s backyards for much of the time.
When I get back to Buck Creek, I cut over to the golf course area, there is a trail along the fence there, on the only hill of any size in the park. I can walk along the fence and look out over the wetlands to watch the ducks, herons, muskrats, and other wildlife in action. It is also a good area to see the many deer that hide out in the wetlands if you look closely.
I cross back over Buck Creek and into the park proper again at the first bridge you come to on that side of the park. Then I take the trails there back up along that side of the creek to the main road that runs through the park, and walk it back to my vehicle. All told, it is about a 5 mile hike, not bad for in the city.
The downside is that you are in the city of Wyoming, and you are never out of earshot of the busy US 131 expressway which is less than a mile away. There are also many places on the trails when you are walking along fences that separate the park from people’s backyards, and some of the park borders commercial and industrial properties. It is not a wilderness by any means, but for a place close to home that gives me a chance to stretch my legs and see more nature than you would expect to with in a city, it is a very good place to hike.