#LansingWalks: The Alien Trail

Jean MacLeod
5 min readDec 16, 2020

Grab your dog, stop for snacks, wear tinfoil

When the aliens dropped a monolith in Lansing, Michigan a week ago, they put this walk on the map. They obviously wanted human life-forms to explore Old Town, take to the River Trail, and discover the ghosts of 1915 Speed Wagons racing through the heart of REO Town. We have obliged the extraterrestrials…

The Michigan monolith is eight feet tall and made out of an unidentified metal. It is similar to the Utah monolith found, then lost, in November by a biologist from Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources, who was counting bighorn sheep in the desert from a helicopter.

We don’t need a helicopter to find the monolith here in Lansing, but wearing a little tinfoil could aid our plans for alien communication. I got Clover ready to walk.

Clover in tinfoil hat; Fig, mortified and opting out.


To begin the trek, park in the public parking lot at the Brenke Fish Ladder and hop right on the Lansing River Trail heading south toward downtown. The Brenke Fish Ladder is not a Scandinavian eatery, but an actual thing that helps fish get over the dam in the Grand River without getting hurt. Joka tiesi?

Brenke Fish Ladder


Follow the River Trail. Crossing under Saginaw Street you will come up to follow the loop into downtown that I detailed HERE as the Capital City Mile.

Capital City Mile

This section of the walk will take you past public artwork and the the capitol building, ending at the Social Sloth Café for Turkish coffee and pastry. Do not skip this step — you will want to be fortified in case you are detoured to some sort of mothership for alien-years-that-feel-like-human-minutes.


From the Social Sloth Café, travel straight down S. Washington Avenue. You will spot the monolith at the corner of Elm Street, conveniently resting in front of Sleepwalker Brewery. [*Note: you will want to check with the aliens before you visit, as the monolith seems to be transporting itself to different locations around Lansing on a regular basis.]

Monolith, second from left. Alien PHOTO CREDIT via https://www.facebook.com/MiMonolith2020

After replenishing your life-force (or whatever it is you’re supposed to do while gazing on a monolith — just for God’s sake DON’T TOUCH IT, I still feel bad about Clover…) travel south down Washington a few blocks to pay respect to the area that housed the REO Motor Car Company.

Founded in 1904 by Ransom Eli Olds (of Oldsmobile fame), REO Motors created the Speed Wagon, a popular 1915 ancestor of the pick-up truck. Legend has it, Neal Doughty of REO Speedwagon named his band after the truck after seeing the name chalked on the blackboard of his History of Transportation class at University of Illinois.

The REO Historic Site monument is located on the corner of Washington Ave. and Baker Street, in front of the Lansing Sanitary Supply building. The REO Motor Car Company was a very big deal through the 1930s, and the echoes of its technology and vehicular advancements might have enticed the extraterrestrials down to pay homage.


Head north, straight back up Washington, turn right at Sleepwalker’s (Elm St.), cross over the river and make an immediate left to walk the Lansing River Trail on the east side of the Grand River.

Take the trail all the way back to the Brenke Fish Ladder, where you will ignore the urge to get in your car, and begin a short loop around Old Town to wrap up your trek.

Red stars are Old Town stops, indicated below


Lansing is known for its vibrant street art and there are some beautiful examples in Old Town (aka Lansing’s Art District). My favorite:

Artist: Nanibah Nani Chacon at 1207 Turner

Cut through the alley in front of the Jazz Fest mural pictured next to the Turner Mini-Park, below, and make a right on Center Street.

Jazz Fest mural produced by MICA & REACH STUDIO ART CENTER at Turner alley

You will be facing the Artic Corner ice cream stand, and some of the most historic real estate in Lansing…

If this corner could talk…

In 1842, John Burchard and his family became the first residential settlers in the newly official Lansing Township, building a small cabin on what is now the corner of Center Street and E. César E. Chávez Avenue (formerly named the Grand River Indian Trail). Through the years, the home served as a tavern, a church, a meeting hall and township court. Lansing’s first school was also built in Old Town. Today, the area melds its past and present with regentrified buildings, quirky storefronts and a fierce dedication to the arts.

A block of César E. Chávez Avenue in Lansing’s Old Town

You cannot leave Old Town without stopping by Preuss Pets. Located on the corner of N. Cedar Street and E. César E. Chávez Avenue, I am at a loss to explain all of what this pet store encompasses. It might be a portal.

Pay Preuss Pets a visit, and you’ll know what I mean.

Scrap Fest Sculpture in Preuss Pets parking lot. I warned you.

The entire Alien Trail spans approximately five miles. You can easily break this north-south walk up into two, separate, three-mile walks: 1) Old Town & Capital City Mile OR, 2) Capital City Mile & REO Town.

Clover and the Michigan Monolith

And, no worries. We’re expecting the aliens to beam Clover back down at any time now. Knowing this dog, we won’t have long to wait…

Text & Photos (unless credited) by Jean MacLeod @catsdogspeeps


#LansingWalks: Capital City Mile

Lansing History

REO Town

Old Town


Trying to Make Sense of the Mystery Monolith Craze of 2020