HASTINGS, Mich. (Michigan Back Roads) – The Paul Henry-Thornapple Trail in West Michigan is under development. One of the best completed sections, for a quiet afternoon, is the Thornapple River Walk in Hastings.

The walk is a paved pathway that runs a mile and a half along the Thornapple River with loop trails at each end. One end is in Bliss Riverfront Park; at the other end is in Tyden Park. Tyden Park has plenty of parking and a few picnic tables, making it a good place to start for a trails and treasures day trip. Though this review focuses on summer, this is a beautiful walk during the winter months.

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First, there is the walk along the Thornapple River itself. Where you park, the pathway is only steps away. There are map signs right at hand so you know where you are. Follow the course of the river and you will be treated to all the natural beauty that the Thornapple River Valley is known for. If you don’t want to walk the full distance to the Bliss Riverfront Park, take the foot bridge across the river, and enter a network of groomed trails that meander through the trees and wildflowers.

This is the loop at the Tyden Park end of the trail, and it is worth going to the park just to wander around in this tiny wilderness, on the edge of town. As soon as you cross the bridge, turn left, and you will be in the trails. One part follows the course of the river, and others branch off, looping into a maze of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. At one junction, there is an enormous Sycamore tree, that is so large you can’t get your arms all the way around it. The canopy of trees and dense undergrowth are home to a wide range of waterfowl and songbirds.