Step it Up! Walking Challenge

Ottawa & Allegan County, lace up your walking shoes & get ready for a free 6-week walking challenge.

Ottawa and Allegan Parks and Recreation and Department of Public Health are teaming up to bring the community another Step it Up! Walking Challenge this spring. Participants will “virtually walk” 240 miles along regional trails in Michigan. The challenge begins on Monday, April 3! Registration is now open- register today!

This free, 6-week program is designed to help participants spring into fitness and get moving after a cold winter. Participants of all fitness levels are invited to join – weekly prizes are available.

Optional group walks will be offered for those interested in getting their weekly steps in with a group while checking out Ottawa & Allegan County Parks (schedule below). Each walk will be led by a naturalist guide. Different pace groups will be available.

Participants will be able to track their individual progress online, including their cumulative steps taken. The Ottawa County GIS Department designed a map to watch progress along the virtual trail. “When you login to track your steps, you’ll be able to see the weekly goal markers and also track your individual progress. It was great to team up with GIS again to create an interactive component,” said Parks spokesperson Jessica VanGinhoven.

Ottawa County will also release its new and improved tracking system for participants that was developed over the winter. “Participants will be able to track their progress on a weekly basis, just like before, but we’ve added the option to track progress daily,” said VanGinhoven. “The tracking program is also mobile-friendly, so you can record your activity from your phone. These changes were made based on participant feedback and should make tracking activity much easier.”

Past participants also enjoyed the program. In a survey following the program walk participants reported:

  • Great program to encourage people to exercise and use the county park system.
  • I loved this program! It motivated me to get walking again! I moved back to Holland two years ago and I learned a lot about the parks in Ottawa County through this program! I will be buying a pass and keep visiting our parks! Thank you very much!
  • It has helped us lose weight and feel so much better.
  • Prior to this challenge my daily steps were closer to 5,000 and since doing program I’m between 7,000-10,000 and some days way more. It challenged me to park further away and keep pedometer with me when walking around my house for a true count of my steps. Thanks for the motivation.

Registration is now open- register today!

URL:  Registration closes April 10.

Group Walk Schedule

April 8: Pine Bend Park, 10-11 AM

April 8: Outdoor Discovery Center, 10-11 AM

April 13: New Richmond Bridge Park, 10-11 AM

April 13: Rosy Mound Natural Area, 5:30-6:30 PM

April 22: Riley Trails, 10-11 AM

April 22: Bysterveld Park, 10-11 AM

April 27: Grand Ravines (North), 5:30-6:30 PM

May 2: Hemlock Crossing, 5:30-6:30 PM

May 6: Kirk Park, 3-4 PM

May 8: Allegan Sports Complex, 10-11 AM

May 11: Connor Bayou 5:30-7 PM – This walk will be followed by a family-friendly party at the Connor Bayou cabin!

Parks Naturalist, Kelly Morrissey, leads a walking group at Paw Paw County Park in Holland. Last spring, over 800 participants walked 106,609.6 miles – four times around the world!


Enjoy Pigeon Creek Over the Holidays

The weather forecast looks great for skiing for weeks to come! Anticipating optimal ski conditions this holiday season, these are our Pigeon Creek Lodge holiday hours:

  • December 24: 9am – 4pm (last ski rental at 2:30 pm)
  • December 25: CLOSED
  • December 26 – December 30: 9am – 10pm (last ski rental at 8:30 pm)
  • December 31: 9am – 8pm (last ski rental at 6:30 pm)
  • January 1: 9am – 8pm (last ski rental at 6:30 pm)
  • January 2: 12pm – 8pm (last ski rental at 6:30 pm)
  • Snowshoe rentals are also available during these times with sizes for ages 4 through 104!

The lodge is only open during good ski conditions. If you aren’t sure if the lodge is open, call our hotline: (616) 738-9531.

Winter Park hours during good ski conditions: 7 am-10 pm

Ski Classes

Ski classes begin this January! Classes for beginners, intermediates, and skate skiers are available. Check the schedule to find a class that’s perfect for you.

Step It Up! Fall Walking Challenge

Lace up your walking shoes & get ready for a free 7-week walking challenge.

This fall, participants will “virtually walk” 225 miles along the North Country Trail in the Upper Peninsula. The challenge begins on Monday, September 19.

This program is designed to help the community stay active as the weather cools. Participants of all fitness levels are invited to join and track their activity. Those who report their weekly steps and activity will be entered to win a Fit Bit fitness tracker; one will be awarded each week of the challenge.

Optional group walks will be offered for those interested in checking out Ottawa County Parks and enjoying the fall color. Each walk will be led by a naturalist guide.

New for the fall challenge

Participants will be able to track their individual progress online, including their cumulative steps taken. The Ottawa County GIS Department designed a map for those walking to see how far they’ve made it along the virtual trail.

“We think participants will really enjoy this added feature,” said Parks spokesperson Jessica VanGinhoven. “When you login to track your steps, you’ll be able to see the weekly goal markers and also track your individual progress. It was great to team up with GIS to create a more interactive component.”

Registration is now open – register today!


Registration closes September 15.

Group Walk Schedule

Week 1: Tuesday, September 20:  Hemlock Crossing, 6-7 PM

Week 2: Thursday, September 29: Hemlock Crossing, 10-11 AM

Thursday, September 29: Paw Paw Park (East), 6-7 PM

Week 3: Saturday, October 8: Hemlock Crossing, 4-5 PM

Week 4: Tuesday, October 11: Grand Ravines North, 6-7 PM

Week 5: Thursday, October 20: Grand Ravines North, 6-7 PM

Week 6: Saturday, October 29: Rosy Mound Natural Area, 10-11 AM

Week 7: Thursday, November 3: Hemlock Crossing, 5:30-7 PM. This final walk will be followed by a family-friendly party at the Nature Education Center!

Dog Lovers–Check it out!

Saturday, August 20 from 2-4 pm at the Grand Ravines Dog Park

Special Guests Include:

  • Zeke the Wonderdog and his trainer – learn how to toss a frisbee from a PRO!
  • Chow Hound Pet Supplies, of course!
  • Hudsonville-Jenison Community Foundation will have a doggie photo booth… there will be a best dressed competition to follow… come prepared!
  • Adams K-9 will do a demo and take training questions at 2:30 pm
  • Members of the Mid Union Sled Hauler Group who will be demonstrating Dryland “Mushing”. Your dog will love to try it out!
  • Karen J. Photography will be taking professional pet photos.
  • Ottawa County Deputy Mark Busse and K9 Andy will be there to say hello and answer questions.
  • Humane Society of West Michigan will have adoptable dogs on-site!
  • Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue will share information about how you can adopt or foster an animal whose owner has passed away.
  • Camp Bow Wow, Hudsonville
  • The Grooming Corner will be clipping nails for $5.
  • Allendale Animal Hospital will be microchipping.
  • Rally House, a specialty sports boutique that offers a large selection of apparel, gifts and home décor representing local NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL teams
  • Lularoe Lindsay Gainor
  • The Forever Yum Ice Cream Truck will be selling ice cream and other treats.

Step It Up Challenge

Join for a free, 8 week walking challenge!

Cover 288 miles and “virtually walk” from St. Ignace (over the Mackinac Bridge) to Connor Bayou in Grand Haven. Celebrate at the end of the walk with a wrap up party at Conner Bayou! Some group walks at a variety of Ottawa County Parks will also be available for participants, but are not required.

Simply track your steps for eight weeks to be eligible for weekly raffle prizes (including Fit Bit fitness trackers, free Ottawa County Parks pass, Coast Guard Festival 5K run/walk free registrations and more). A downloadable log form will be provided to you upon registration to track your steps. Participants will report steps taken on a weekly basis.  Register Now!

Ottawa County Parks Job Fair

Ottawa County Parks is searching for candidates interested in working outside over the summer. The opportunities would be perfect for students (18+) who are home on break, retirees who want to spend more time outside, or anyone interested in the parks and looking to make some extra money during the summer months.

The Parks Department will be hiring a minimum of 20 seasonal employees for the 2016 season. There are many Lakeshore jobs available, but opportunities exist at parks throughout the County. Because of the large number of seasonal hires, the Parks Department will be hosting its first job fair on Tuesday, December 29 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at the Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing County Park (8115 West Olive Road, West Olive).

Interested candidates can expect immediate interviews with Parks Management and County HR. There is a potential for on-the-spot hires. Computers will be available for on-site online application, but candidates may review available positions and apply online before the job fair event. Available seasonal positions include:

  • Park Attendant
  • Grounds Attendant
  • Gatekeeper
  • Maintenance Work Crew
  • Stewardship Crew
  • Naturalist Intern
  • Maintenance Work Crew Supervisor

Descriptions of these positions can be found online.

Submitted by Jessica VanGinhoven.

Picture your little ones with Santa…

Enjoy an old-fashioned holiday gathering at the historic Weaver House and make a lasting memory with your family!

  • Sunday, December 6 from 1-4 PM
  • Enjoy free refreshments!
  • Bring your camera for a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus

The Weaver House is located north of Holland in Pine Bend Park.  From US-31, travel west on Croswell Street to 156th Avenue.  Proceed south on 156th Avenue and follow signs into the park at 15400 Polk Street, West Olive, MI 49460.

Weaver House winter

Santa at Weaver House photo

This event is hosted by the Friends of Ottawa County Parks.
Friends of OCP



Submitted by Jessica VanGinhoven, Ottawa County Parks

Grand Ravines Dog Park Open House Event

Attention dog lovers: the long-awaited Grand Ravines Dog Park officially opens this Saturday. Ottawa County Parks invites you and your pup to check out the new space and learn more about what’s to come.

Grand Ravines Dog Park Open House Event:
Saturday, September 26 from 12-4 PM

Special guests include

  • Allendale Animal Hospital: Microchipping from 12-1 PM
  • Rockin’ Rovers: Demo from 12:30-1:30 PM
  • Ottawa County K-9 Unit: Obedience and narcotic search demo from 1:30-2:30 PM
  • Karen J. Photography: Get a professional pet portrait for $5
  • Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue:Meet pets who are looking for a new forever home. Tyson’s Place assists terminally ill people in caring for and finding new families for their pets.
  • A Pleasant Dog: Trainers will be roaming at the event and offering dog park etiquette, as well as other training tips.
  • Chow Hound: The dog park’s largest sponsor and their mascot, Chowie, will be raffling and giving away goodies all day.
  • Big Guys Q‘s award winning BBQ will be available for purchase (just don’t tease the dogs).

The 21-acre dog park is located at Grand Ravines South (3991 Fillmore St, East of 42nd Avenue), minutes from the Allendale, Jenison, and Hudsonville. The park has separate fenced areas for large and small dogs, as well as fenced trails for off-leash walking. It is the largest off-leash dog park for miles. There are no entry or membership fees.

Guests should note that while the dog park will be open, there is more work to be done. For example, areas where grass has been freshly seeded will remain closed until later this fall or spring (depending on weather). Fundraising is still underway for various amenities including more concrete paths, an additional fenced area, shelters, lights and shade trees.

To support the dog park in a special way, you may purchase a brick for the entry way. The bricks may be inscribed with your name, or the name of a furry friend you would like to honor. Engraved bricks are $100 and may be purchased online.

Learn more about the dog park!


Get in on the M23.1k Action

Interested in getting in on the action during the M23.1K run on October 3rd without actually…er…running? You CAN volunteer or spectate.
(Note: If you want to run, register now.  Only about 20 spots remain!)

Behind every great event is an even greater army of volunteers. The event is poised to reach capacity, so your help is needed more than ever. Volunteer opportunities are listed online. As a token of thanks, volunteers will receive a t-shirt.

Another aspect of a great event is mob of spectators. Spectator access to M231 is at three locations: Lincoln Street, M104 and M45. Spectators will not be allowed to drive on M231. Spectators should be aware that it is approximately seven miles from M104 to M45; and from Lincoln Street to the Grand River is over two miles. That being said, spectators can bike to their spectating location. Biking spectators must be extremely cautious and contentious to not interfere with racers or the course cyclists. Spectators on bike may not bike alongside a runner. Instead, they are urged to bike from “spectating location to spectating location.” After the runners are off the course (around 11:45AM) spectators have until 1PM to bike and walk until their hearts are content. Spectators can also watch the start of the race at Robinson Elementary School and access M231 from the trail behind the school. The race also finishes at Robinson Elementary School.

Another spectating option that your department may wish to consider is what is often called a spirit station. There is no formal process for creating a spirit station–simply get your group together and be super spectators. Some groups wear costumes, play music, pass out gummy bears, hold creative signs and more! YOU may be just the boost that a runner needed to prevent them from hitting the mental wall.

Submitted by Shannon Felgner & Misty Cunningham

Register Now for the M23.1k Run

Get your motor runnin’. Head out on the highway! Registration is now open for the run on the M231 Highway. This one-time event is sure to be a historic one!

Ottawa County is partnering with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Grand Haven Running Club, Robinson and Crockery townships, plus the offices of Senator Arlan Meekhof and Representative Amanda Price to organize a preview of the new highway with the “M23.1K Run.” The new M231 Highway stretches seven miles through the spectacular, rolling countryside and over the Grand River in West Michigan.

The run will raise funds for Ottawa County’s non-motorized pathway system (commonly called bike paths). An extensive system of paved trails benefits residents and visitors alike. Paved trails through Ottawa County provide: opportunities for fitness and family recreation; environmental benefits; transportation corridors; and economic benefits to the community.

October 3 |  8AM | Grand Haven’s Robinson Elementary School | $35 | Register

I want to see the bridge but I don’t want to run…can I?  Yes. You can volunteer to man a water station, check-in registrants or help with another task at the run. Or, you can be a spectator and hold up really cool, inspirational signs. Finally, you can attend an event (to be announced) where time is being planned for folks to walk on the bridge prior to the dedication. We think it would be much more fun to volunteer! More detailed information on volunteering is forthcoming–but please save the date!

There are a few more details and FAQ’s online.