Ralph W. Crego Park
When I heard that a wilderness area that was closed for twenty-five years due to contamination had reopened, I must admit my expectations were quite low. The area now known as Ralph W. Crego Park was familiar to me as the polluted, swampy area east of Aurelius. It was also the location my uncle would sneak into to search out morels. Sometimes he would also go there because the city would dumb collected downed trees there and set it up as a first come first serve firewood buffet. In the last two years or so word started getting out that the area was no longer contaminated. A couple of years ago the dark, green county park sign appeared at the north-east corner solidifying the rumors of a new, usable area. After reading about this park again in the City Pulse, I thought I should go check it out. I loaded up the twins and headed into town. I remembered exactly where it was from my City Saunter walk of the street. When I had passed by, it was still a closed off area. This time, as I drove down the dead-end road I could see new details. There was a brilliant white sidewalk on the east side of the road as we drove in and a gorgeous lake. On the west side of the lake new decking and walk ways were built. There was a drinking fountain and a port a potty. Along the trail there were sporadically placed black benches, perfect for resting or enjoying the view.
The long view of the lake. The lake is extremely clear.
And what a view it was. Much like Hawk Island, it is often surprising that something so beautiful is really part of Lansing. But it is. Not only that but these beautified locations are becoming more and more the norm for Lansing. It makes me really excited for what’s in store for our area. While watching groups of bikers travel around the lake I fantasized about a connected biking trail that someday will easily connect East Lansing or even Haslett to this ever increasing trail system. The idea of accessible trails like this is something northern Michigan really excels at and I am excited to see them in Lansing. I have been on the Lansing River Trail and spoke to bikers who say they’ve traveled from long distances just to use our trails. They come to use OUR Trails! While I was at this park for an hour at least ten different groups came through. Some came by car, some on foot and quite a few by bike. The trail from the lake area meanders west through fields of Michigan wild flowers and eventually connects to the River Trail just east of Aurelius. It’s a nice place to travel to from almost any part of Lansing via the river trail. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. Until then here’s some of the photos I took while we explored.
We found this little guy just hanging out
These boys came in off the trail and were very nice.
Quite a few different groups stopped by the lake while I was there.
Gorgeous Michigan wild flowers adorned all the fields.
You can clearly see the fish in the water.
Extended trail that connects to the Lansing River Trail
The familiar swampy Sycamore Creek area
Ralph W. Crego Park
Tagged Ariniko, Ariniko Artistry, Biking Trails, City Saunter, lakes, Lansing, Lansing Michigan, Lansing Photographer, Lansing Photography, parks, Ralph W. Crego Park, walking trails
When I lived in Richmond, Virginia from 1992 until 1996 we often experienced these summer days of excruciating and unbearable heat. It would generally start the third week of July and run the second week of August. Sometimes it was all of July and all of August. We would have record 100 degree days for a week and more days of the month in the 90’s than in the 80’s. It was incredibly similar to what Lansing has been experiencing this summer. Also taking into consideration the lack of rain and this summer is a record breaker on multiple fronts. Summer can be frustrating in many respects. The kids trade in their perfectly scheduled routines for late nights, not so much late mornings and infrequent RRR. Despite great hopes every summer to continue with somewhat of a scholastic menu it somehow always goes down the drain. Soon the day in and day out guilt gets ever greater that I am not spending nearly enough time creating fun activities with my kids. So today I was going to change that. Yes, I knew the high for the day was supposed to reach 90, once again. My thinking was if I got us out early enough we could return before it was too bad. Somehow, though I found myself forcing the twins to shower and barely getting them into the car before 2 p.m. It was already 86. It’s okay I thought, I was planning to stop at a park. A park always makes everything okay. We parked at McDonalds on Larch. I bought them each $1.00 ice cream cones (didn’t these use to be $.25??) and an ice tea for myself. Then we headed east through the neighborhood. At first it was not too bad. I could tell after one block though that the twins weren’t going to put up with too much walking. After going around one block I decided to head straight to Gier Park Elementary to let the kids play. Even though this area has two schools, a community center, a baseball field, two additional parks, and a BMX track there was hardly anyone out there. The kids played a little as I took some photos like the 4 square area that I actually remember playing on when I was their age. Without many trees we quickly became over hot. The twins tried to enjoy themselves but I could see the fatigue setting in. They had eyed the other park to the north and wanted to try that one out too. So we made our way through the baseball fields.
I remember as a young person riding to these fields in the summer. Some of our friends would be playing there and it was a great place to socialize. Not today though, as there was no one there.
The parking lot was scattered with a few parked cars which always makes me wonder, what are those people doing? There was one couple that drove in and it was quite obvious what they were doing. I tried to not draw attention to them. At this park the twins quickly scaled a 6 foot fake rock. Once on the top, my just learning to read 6 1/2 year olds began reading the words they could make out; “suck my…”; oh my!! It was time to move on.
I suppose graffiti cleaning has been cut out of the budget years ago. By now Ellie is dragging. Her face is as pink as her shirt and I knew getting back to the car was going to be a challenge. We passed the BMX track and watched three young guys run the track once.
I suppose it’s too hot for even riding bikes. We crossed 27 (Larch for the non North Side folks) and took a non walked road back to the car. Ellie insisted I was making them walk 10 miles. It ended up being almost 2 miles on a 90 degree day. Now I know why they call it dog days, as all we’ve done since getting home is lay around the house. It’s a sad, sad summer when it’s even too hot to play.
Here is a year in pictures for 2011! I hope you enjoy.
Once inside the towering tunnel of trees the loud city noises become muffled background sounds. The most audible sound comes from the birds twittering around and the wind blowing the tree tops far above our head. After walking the six blocks down Clifton Ave. from Pat’s childhood home we were at the entrance to Scott Woods. This park had back handedly gotten in on the Hawk Island renewal a few years ago. At the very end of Clifton Ave. sits this sentry cove; a beckoning preview of what sits within its treescape. Instead of the old dirt paths and rustic signs it once had the city has paved a walking path wide enough for two way pedestrian traffic. Well built bridges cover the slow flowing streams or even dried up riverbeds. There have been recent additions of directional signs leading walkers to their proper destination; whether it’s to Potter Park, MSU River trail, McGuire Park, the Soldan Dog Park or Hawk Island. Only in location does this new Scott Woods resemble the single file trails leading to a small gravel pit that Pat took me to while we dated twenty two years ago. The old air plane hangar is no longer there. In fact the gravel pit is no longer there. It’s really hard to explain what happened in this area; a landscaping on steroids. Bulldozers brought in piles of dirt, redirected hills and islands and developed a recreational masterpiece. The gravel pit became a gorgeous lake with a picturesque island in the center. Pavilions and picnic tables are scattered in perfect symmetry throughout the park. The community meticulously constructed a playground that can entertain children for hours. (I know this for a fact). The cemented trail all around the park lends for roller blading, walking, biking and in the winter skiing. Fishing is a common sport in designated areas around the lake. There is also a boating area for enjoying the water without getting wet. However, if getting wet is your intention, as it was ours on this overly hot day, then the greatest adventure at Hawk Island is the splash pad.
We knew we were getting close to the watery play area as we continued our walk. We could see the lake through the trees. The increase in frequency of passing pedestrians also gave us a clue.
Then we heard the screaming. It was the constant squealing, giggling, yelling and laughing of hundreds of Lansing residents refreshing themselves in the lake and at the splash pad. It called to us from around the trail. With sweat dripping down our backs we could only hope that we would reach that refreshing water soon. We made the turn onto the trail that took us directly to flowing, crystal clear fountains. We walked past the boat area; we passed the trail to the playground and beach and walked right through the gate to the Hawk Island splash pad. We waded through the clouds of chlorine and suntan lotion and joined the throngs of people that we had just heard screaming in the distance. For the next hour we stood under buckets filling with water, slowly spilling onto our heads. We ran through tunnels of shooting water and stood on holes in the ground gushing water straight into the sky. We used guns to shoot the water and cones to redirect it. It was the hottest day of the year and many were out seeking anything to refresh them and to wash the sweat from their bodies. With these incredibly warm summer days many would have no other way to cool down and definitely not have anything this cool!