Ionia State Park

Ionia is probably not high on your list of hiking destinations. If you think of Ionia at all, it's probably the free fair, which is still a good reason to visit. And how many Michigan counties do you know that are named after places in Greece? (I'm guessing you would answer the same as me - zero.) But if you're from Lansing like me, Ionia is fairly close, only a 30-minute drive west towards Grand Rapids.

I had been to the Ionia Recreation Area many times, though not in several years. I had been underwhelmed by the trails and decided that it would not be on my regular trail rotation. But, as I will be moving to Traverse City in the near future, I am on a kick to visit as many downstate trails as I can before my full-time focus shifts north. To Ionia I went again.

Though the trail is 95% the same, there have been some excellent improvements since the last time I visited. I started at the parking area next to the boat launch, the nearest trail entrance. I was immediately in a lushly forested area. The trail descended to Sessions Creek which twisted its way through the "bush". Well-maintained bridges allow for a crossing free of wet socks.

After a short time, the trail ascended to higher ground and followed a bluff that bordered the creek, the sounds of running water not far below. This was one portion of the trail that had changed. Where it once snuck through stands of sumac and other scrub trees, it now followed the creek, a more scenic path.

The trail wound up and down, left and right (and probably some other directions, too). I got views of the water, and piles of rocks, possibly placed there by an ancient civilization, or (less probably) by farmers clearing their fields of stones.

The big bridge crossed the creek at its widest point on the trail. This replaced an older, wooden version that collapsed several years ago. This new one was in no danger of that. The stream made gurgling and other water-like noises as it passed underneath, and it was a nice place to enjoy the view and sounds of the creek.