Newaygo’s Riverfront Park – A Great Place to Walk Your Dogs!

Newaygo’s Riverfront Park – A Great Place to Walk Your Dogs!

We have 14 acres and some nice trails on our property that our dogs get walked on regularly, but we try to get them out for a ride in the truck and a walk “elsewhere” as often as we can too. They really like walks in the woods but sometimes, especially after work, we don’t necessarily have time for that. That’s when we load the critters into the truck and take them up to the Newaygo Riverfront Park.

Most locals know about the park, but in case readers don’t – it’s very easy to find. Simply turn onto River Road off M-37 on the north end of “old downtown”. You’ll cross over the railroad tracks and the entrance to the park will be on your right. There’s ample parking, a nice little playground, picnic tables, a pavilion, and even porta-johns.

Riverfront Park Trestle

Since it isn’t all that long, we always double back to the left of the parking lot to get on the walking trail at the very beginning. There’s also a nice deck overlooking the mighty Muskegon there (the first of several). The trail hugs the banks of the river as you head roughly northeast, back towards downtown Newaygo. If you’re there on a hot summer Saturday or Sunday, it might be pretty busy and you’ll surely see and hear the endless succession of kayak and inner tube flotillas heading down the river. Folks often this park as a put-in or take-out spot as well. If you’re there during the week or in the off-season though, you’ll likely have the place almost to yourself.

There’s two ways to do this walk. You can just do an “out and back” which will get you a little under a mile and a half walk, or you can take the trail till it ends up by one of our local tube and kayak rental places and then hang a right and walk the sidewalk south through downtown. There’s even a few stores that are “dog friendly”… just watch for the signs in the windows. If you walk back to River Rd. and hang a right back down to the park entrance, you can get almost 2 miles in. We opted for an “out and back” this time and saw less than 10 other people.

The trail, which is paved and thus really accessible, will take you on a slow gradual uphill climb with the river on your left, past some really large grain silos on your right, and right past a historic building on your left, which I believe used to house the Newaygo County Museum, before heading back downhill. In a grassy area to your right as you’re coming down this hill, and easy to miss are several large cement fish head sculptures. They’re pretty cool and whimsical and worth the stop.

The wooden observation deck here is a great vantage point to take in two bridges that span the Muskegon, one for rail and one for cars, and Penoyer Creek spilling its water into the river. We often see folks fishing from this deck as well. The trail continues under the first bridge and curls up to the right. This is the area the local rental place puts tubers and kayakers in and out, so it might be VERY busy. On this Monday night in July though, there was no one but a young girl sitting on the banks of the river hunting rocks.

We met some very nice folks who loved on our two rescues and on the way back, passed another gentleman walking his Chihuahua, which got both our dogs quite worked up – they don’t get to meet other dogs very often – before returning to our truck. A quick note; if you’re walking dogs, don’t forget to bring plastic baggies to clean up after them so everyone else walking or bike riding the trail after you can enjoy it.         

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