My family and I are avid outdoors people. Our ideal day would be to do something outdoorsy from sunup to sundown. From hunting and fishing, to hiking trails and exploring new places, it’s something we all can connect and bond over, while giving our family the outdoor lifestyle we desire. We decided this year, as a family, to participate in the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge (more information can be found here: ). The concept is simple- get outdoors. I’m so thankful we live in an area that makes this challenge “easy”.

I’d like to highlight one of our summer adventures: exploring Coolbough Natural Areas.

Coolbough Natural Areas is located off of South Hazelwood avenue in Newaygo and offers a breathtaking hike through 400 acres of wetlands, ponds, unique plants and ecosystems.
It. Is. Beautiful.

Coolbough Natural Areas has trails varying in distance, which makes this the perfect place for the novice or expert adventurer. Starting out hiking can be intimidating. You’re figuring out what gear you need (or don’t need) and if your boots fit right (or leave painful blisters- been there, not fun).  It’s an adventure just getting started! Whether you want to take a route under two miles or take a connector trail to the North Country Trail, Coolbough Natural Areas is perfect for you.

For this trip, we chose the Old Rail Trail which is a little shy of 2 miles. Our younger two are still discovering the joys of hiking. Had it been just my husband and I, we would’ve taken the whole loop or hiked through to the North Country Trail. We’re planning a return trip for fall once the colors start!

One of my favorite things about the trails is that they’re CLEARLY MARKED with red-soled shoes as well as trail maps at trailheads. It’s so nice to have these clear markers and directors. My biggest fear as a hiker is getting lost. The trails loop back around, which is also wonderful.

My itinerary:

  1. Pack a lunch!
  3. Hike ALL of the trails
    -Unless you have a toddler that still likes to be carried, then do a shorter loop.
  4. Bring water
    -Stay hydrated, friends!

Get out and explore Newaygo County!