Yankee Springs is my favorite place in Southwest Michigan for a long run. It is a 5200 acre State Park about half-way between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. It has two campgrounds, several lakes, and many miles of trails. Some of the trails are designated for mountain biking, some for hiking, and some for skiing, but as runners we get to explore all the trails.
If you want to go for a long run without getting lost, I recommend running the Mountain Bike Trail starting at the Deep Lake Unit off Yankee Springs Road. (The Google map at the bottom of this page will get you to the start of the Mountain Bike Trail.) There is a 2 mile "warm-up" loop on one side and an 11 mile loop on the other side. It is all well marked and has several marked short-cuts you can take if you want a shorter run. The terrain is quite hilly, although you do get some relatively flat miles, and there are plenty of rocks and roots to jump over. The soil at Yankee Springs is quite sandy, which helps it to drain well, so you won't see a lot of mud.
If you want to see more of the park, you can get a trail map explore. I like to start at the Hall Lake Trail head on the South side of the park off Gun Lake Road. On the Hall Lake Trail you will pass by picturesque Hall Lake as you climb one of the bigger hills in the park. From the Hall Lake Trail you can link to other trails and make a longer route.
If you feel adventurous try climbing in and out of the Devil's Soup Bowl. The Soup Bowl is a deep depression carved out by glaciers. It is too steep to run in and out of, but just climbing in and out is a fun workout.
If the weather is warm and you want to go for a swim, there is a nice beach and picnic area at Gun Lake on the West side of the park. Sometimes I like to finish my run there and cool off in the lake.
Click here to download a trail map.
For more information about Yankee Springs you can go to the park's website.
My partner, Kim Owens, and I at Switchback Endurance put on races at Yankee Springs, one in winter and one in spring. For more information about our races go to switchbackendurance.com.
Yankee Springs Bike Trail