Celebrating Connections along the Grand River Greenway

Partners come together to celebrate the completion of the Versluis GVSU Campus Segment of the Idema Explorers Trail

The Idema Explorers Trail is a component of the Grand River Greenway, a $41 million dollar project spearheaded by Ottawa County Parks. The Grand River Greenway is comprised of 9,000 acres of public land between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids, with over 2,700 acres protected by Ottawa County Parks. The preservation of this land provides scenic natural spaces, high quality habitat for both wildlife and recreation, and soon, the 36.5-mile Idema Explorers Trail, connecting these two great cities.

Partners gathered on October 23, 2019 on Grand Valley State University’s campus to celebrate the completion of the Versluis GVSU Campus Segment of the Idema Explorers Trail. This one-mile segment trail connects Grand Ravines to GVSU’s Allendale campus, and the Allendale business district. The Idema Explorers Trail will be a 36.5-mile multi-use pathway that connects Grand Rapids to Grand Haven along the Grand River.

Grand Valley State University President Philomena V. Mantella said the Grand River Greenway project improves the quality of life for students, as well as their experience and their access to the river. “Part of what attracted me and many of our students to our great university is the beauty of our campuses, and the settings along the Grand River are a part of that incredible beauty,” Mantella said. “This trail system will eventually connect our campuses and be used by thousands of our students and student athletes for training, education and recreation.”

Peter F. Secchia, co-chair of the Grand River Greenway Campaign Committee thanked the funders of this segment of trail, including the Ottawa County Parks Foundation, Georgetown Township, and the Versluis family and said it is an example of the importance of preserving nature and green spaces. Secchia and the Grand River Greenway Campaign Committee are working to raise the final $1.1 million needed for the project.

The funding from these organization and individuals leveraged a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). Cathy Sampselle, the Grant Coordinator for the MDOT Office of Economic Development described the project as a fantastic example of what we can do when we all work together. “Investing in a trail like this will pay dividends in public health, transportation system, mobility, and economic growth for generals to come,” said Sampselle.

The Idema Explorers Trail is being constructed in phases along the south side of the Grand River. Once completed, the non-motorized multi-use pathway will be 36.5 miles in length and will connect together eight county and state parks in Ottawa County. It also connects Millennium Park to Grand Haven for the first time, the two Grand Valley State University campuses together, and hundreds of miles of regional trails including a direct route to downtown Grand Rapids.

Quick facts:

  • There are 14 Ottawa County Park properties with over 2,700 acres of land along the Grand River Greenway
  • In addition to the 36.5-mile paved trail, the greenway also features a water trail (Grand River Heritage Water Trail) and a historic features tour for motorists (Historic River Road).
  • There are over 9,000 acres of public land between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids

grand river greenway

Learn more about the Grand River Greenway:

To help complete the Greenway, the Parks Foundation launched the Grand River Greenway Campaign which is now only $1.1 million from completing its fund-raising goal. To learn more or donate, visit or call 616-215-6544.