Beechwood Church will add several miles of mountain biking and a hiking trail
TWP PARK. — Beechwood Church will provide a recreational outlet for the community on its 80-acre property in Park Township.
“I think the idea came out of a desire to do more community outreach,” said general manager Marty Ryan. “We have always looked for opportunities.”
This time, the opportunity will come in the form of a mountain biking and hiking trail. This is not the first time that Beechwood has provided space for recreational activities.
“We actually rent the property with most of the Stu Visser trails up to Park Township,” Ryan said. “And it’s become a real asset that a lot of people appreciate. We’ve also built upgrades, like our lodge building, which is currently used by Outdoor Discovery Centre. for their preschool program.
For the conceptualization, the church contacted the Michigan Edge Mountain Biking Association, which helps create and maintain trails statewide, including Ottawa County.
“We have trails through the woods that have evolved naturally,” Ryan said. “But nobody designed or planned them, so we contacted MEMBA to help us create a nice trail system.”
MEMBA President Joe Lampen has noticed a dramatic increase in mountain biking since the pandemic began.
“Generally there has been an increase over the last decade,” he said. “But the pandemic has only rapidly accelerated interest in traffic and new trail construction. We are also working on a new trail in Jamestown Township – although this one is machine-built. The Beechwood Church Trail will use volunteers and local trail designers and builders.”
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All of MEMBA’s trail systems also allow hikers.
“We still consider this to be one of the selling attributes of a natural surface trail,” Lampen said. “It’s designed for the mountain biker, but it can be used by multiple people. We have groomers that compact the snow, so it’s great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.”
In total, Beechwood hopes to create four or five miles of trail. The first phase of development is already complete, with just over a mile of track.
“We’re preparing for the next phase and hope to have it complete by late spring, early summer,” Ryan said. “We’re also looking at opportunities to maybe tie the name to a community leader or someone really active in the church.”
Eventually, Beechwood Church would like to see the trail become part of a network, connecting its line to Riley Trails and Cooper Van Wieren Park for a total of 15 miles.
“It would be a really nice experience for a mountain biker looking for a place to ride on the weekends,” Ryan said.
Lampen added that biking is not just about nature and exercise, it’s about building community.
“We’ve seen these trails really foster and build community,” he said. “Not just to ride, but to meet people as they ride and work the trail. We’ve seen a tremendous community grow, especially in West Michigan and Holland.”