Some walks are meditative, some are social.
This one-mile walking route into downtown Lansing, Michigan is different: it is designed for noticing.
You will want to take a dog or two, as dogs are keen noticers and a pup will help you see things you would otherwise overlook. Pay attention to what catches a dog’s eye…then look beyond.
START at the tiny City of Lansing parking lot off the left side of Saginaw Street, just before you get to Center Street. There are about six spots but you will be the only car there. From the parking lot, jump right on the Lansing River Trail (which runs next to the river), walk under Saginaw and come up on the other side of the street.
CROSS the wood-planked bridge on your immediate right. This takes you over the Grand River and frames an inspiring view of the State Capitol Building’s iron dome.
FOLLOW the paved trail to your left that runs through Louis F. Adado Park and along the river toward the downtown area.
LOOK for the big rock commemorating the 28,000 mile canoe journey of two Lansing adventurers, Verlen Kruger and Steve Landick.
The men completed their three-year, world record odyssey on Lansing’s Grand River in 1983, but instead of retiring they paddled on to add to their legendary canoeist status.
LOOK for the dynamic Windlord eagle by sculptor Martin Eichinger. In 1976, this piece opened lively discussion about public art in Lansing, and had lasting ramifications on city planning and the role of art in community spaces.
CUT THROUGH the corner of Wentworth Park to catch the 9/11 Memorial, a 10-foot “H beam” salvaged from the World Trade Center, and the historical plaque that commemorates the nightmare of Lansing’s Kerns Hotel Fire on December 11, 1934.
Whew! TURN RIGHT onto Michigan Avenue, and head straight for the gleaming State Capitol Building, which opened in 1879.
Pose your dog on the front walkway for congressional pics…
OR maybe at the foot of the statue of Michigan’s Civil War Governor, Austin Blair (1861–1864), eternally posed in front of the Legislature…
CONTINUE LEFT on South Capitol Avenue for two blocks; you are almost at your one-mile mark! Have you noticed the city’s eclectic mix of architecture from the 1800s, 1930s and 1970s? The murals on the underpass? Wildlife on the shores of the Grand?
The empty streets and government offices due to COVID-19 closures lend a ‘back in time’ feel to your exploration, and the lack of traffic makes it easier to notice the traces of other, earlier editions of Lansing.
TURN LEFT at East Washtenaw Street and proceed a block to Washington where, on the corner, you will find the Social Sloth Café. There is outside street seating for you and your pup; call in your order and the kind proprietors will bring out your Turkish coffee and savory pastries. You realize, sipping the smooth, thick drink, that this was what you needed: a dose of the past, a taste of the present —and a walk with dogs who notice each moment.
CONTINUE ON TO REO TOWN & OLD TOWN via The Alien Trail
Make your one-mile walk a two-mile loop by heading north up Washington (pause to breathe in the deliciousness of the Peanut Shop), turning right on Michigan, crossing over the Grand River and heading down the steps to pick up the Lansing River Trail on the opposite side of the Grand. The trail will take you straight back to your car.