Grass Lake Sports & Trails Park
Grass Lake Charter Township in Jackson County Michigan acquired property in 1994 through an acquisition grant from the DNR to be used as public park space. The development of this park has been incremental. Baseball fields and more recently soccer fields have gradually given the park shape and purpose. Active community groups and donors have funded these developments with the oversight of the township board. Donations of labor and materials have also been forthcoming. The township board has committed to maintain the park facilities. Bathrooms will be completed in the near future.
While all of this development had proceeded, the park still lacked what the community had long requested, the development of walking trails. With a grant application this spring the Township sought funds for the development of trails at the Grass Lake Township Park. As a sign of the community’s readiness to proceed, 36% of matching funds were made available in money, labor and materials.
The trails would be open to the public dawn to dusk in warmer months for walking and, at certain hours, non-motorized bikes. Winter months the trails would be available for cross country skiing/hiking/snowshoeing. Due to a recent acquisition of 3 acres of donated land, access to the trails would be available from Winegar Rd. and Lakeside Drive. Trail access is currently available from Willis Rd and the parking area. The trails would connect open grassland to forested areas as well as pass over and near the headwaters of the Grand River. The trails would cover 2 miles from start to finish. A 0.63-mile portion of the trails would also be accessible universally.
Part of the property that will be used for trails had been farmed in the past but had, in other years, been too wet to farm. Because of the seasonal and unpredictable wetness of a large proportion of the trail property the Township intends to build a boardwalk through these sections. Boardwalk will also reduce the likelihood of small animal/bicycle contact as the animals can pass under the boardwalk when moving from wet to dry ground.
Obesity is a major health problem in this county. The trails will provide an easily available venue for healthy exercise. Simple fitness stations will be located along the trail. Walking is a proven effective way to improve health that most people can do, without the need for expensive equipment. These trails and other exercise options within the park would provide this opportunity to a growing community along the I-94 corridor.
The trails would connect the playing fields, allowing parents and friends to walk easily from one game to another. Access to Grass Lake will also be possible which would provide fishing though not swimming opportunities.
In addition, the trails system will be beautified by the planting of native grass and flower species in appropriate sites along the trails. These plantings will be funded by separate grants and donations of labor and materials. Because of the variety of terrain the plant types themselves will be various. Bird watching and wildlife viewing in this naturalized landscape will be enhanced. In particular, the bobolink, grasshopper sparrow and Henslow’s sparrow, which do nest in the same geographical area but are rare, would be advantaged.
Besides the trails and within the park, the Township proposes adding an area designated for archery practice. This area would be enclosed and away from general traffic, pedestrian and vehicular. This archery range will be a site for education of bow hunters. There is 200 plus acres of pubic land available directly across Michigan Ave. from the park where bow hunting is allowed in season.
It is the Township’s expectation that this trails system, which the community has desired and is willing to work to provide, will complete integration of the developed park into an accessible and maintainable public space.
Grass Lake County Park
One of Jackson County's gems, the Grass Lake County Park on the shores of Grass Lake was remodeled through a joint effort between Jackson County, The Village of Grass Lake and Grass Lake Charter Township during the mid-90's. A new seawall was built along the shore to prevent further erosion on the east side of Grass Lake and new playground equipment, restrooms and concession stand, a covered pavilion, and most recently, a new tennis court gives local residents access to Grass Lake along the southeast shore including a newly remodeled public boat launch.
The park becomes the a gathering point for the 4th of July Festivities in Grass Lake each year, and has for the last 26 years, been the site of preference for the annual "Wild One's Regatta" on Grass Lake, bringing a minimum of 125 racers and their racing boats to Grass Lake each year. Sponsored by the Michigan Hydroplane Racing Association, the annual event is held the weekend after Labor Day. In 2009 the National Stock Outboard races were held on Grass Lake and received the "Best Race of 2009" award from the Region 6 Chapter of the American Power Boating Association.
Park hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. For information on reserving the pavilion for private events, please contact the Jackson County Parks Department at (517) 788-4320.
The Park is located on Grass Lake on the North edge of town. From Michigan Avenue downtown, follow Lake Street north from the stoplight downtown directly into the park at the north end of Lake Street.