Today I took a winter walk through Battle Creek’s History Bridge Park (S. Wattles Road, Battle Creek, MI 49014). The access road and parking lots were not cleared of snow. I found myself joining a digging & pushing party to assist three sport utility vehicles stuck in the parking lot. While I recommend a visit to this park, it would be wise to wait for warmer weather or confirmation that the responsible municipality has plowed the road.
Entrance to the park and parking is free. A set of restrooms look new and clean. There is a pavilion with picnic tables, grills, park benches, a canoe/kayak launch platform, and a playground along the Kalamazoo River. There is also a trendy native plants garden and a trout-friendly creek. While it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere upon entering the park, nearby I-94 traffic on the bridge over the river reminds me that civilization is never far enough away.
Several bridges rescued from the wilds of Michigan are situated over Dickinson Creek, which winds through the park. An “Unofficial Guide” documents the history of each bridge in the park. During a less snowy season, the paths and walkways would be easily accessible for wheelchairs/strollers.
If I were spending an afternoon here with my toddler son, I would approach the first bridge with a list of unique features that I would attempt to force him to find. By the time we cross the second bridge, I’d abandon the history lessons and point out the different sounds each bridge makes under our feet. At the third bridge, I’d follow his lead and just stop and take a moment to appreciate the duck and fish activity in the creek.
Near the end of the metal truss bridge display is a dual stone arch bridge, one arch over the trail and one arch over Dickinson Creek. If the snow weren’t so deep, I’d have been tempted to pass under this arch and continue on a full day hike on The North Country Trail.
If I’d have brought enough food and a tent (and I didn’t have to be at work on Monday) I could be convinced to take this path all the way to the eastern trailhead on the New York/Vermont border. At the opposite end of this Historic Bridge Park, the NCT continues to Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota.
Having taken in the main attraction first, I decided to walk along the Kalamazoo River on the north end of the park before leaving. While the bridge park is interesting and unique, here I find the reason I choose to go outside to walk; some wildlife, undisturbed nature, and a peaceful place to sit & observe.
If you are visiting from out of town, other nearby attractions are FireKeepers Casino/Hotel and Binder Park Zoo.