Ionia Recreation Area

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Trail Type:

Counties Trail is in:

Recreation Passport Required: Yes
Approximate Size: 4500 (Acres)


Rolling hills, babbling brooks, open meadows, forested ridges; a lake nestled in the hills and a river winding its way through woods and fields — that’s Ionia Recreation Area. Dammed waterfowl flooding, wildflowers, and more than 199 species of birds have been seen in this park.

The 4,500 acres of flat to rolling terrain is a mixture of open field, mature hardwood forest, and pine plantations. Four miles of Grand River floodplain follow the river course on the north border of the park. Dammed waterfowl floodings and other wetlands dot the park. Wildflowers abound. Birding is excellent with more than 199 species identified by the Audubon Society.


  • Michigan State Park Explorer Program Learn more about the natural features and resources located in this park with the Outdoor Explorer Program.
  • Hunting – Ionia Recreation Area is open to hunting for all species following state regulations between September 15 and March 31. This park boasts excellent deer and rabbit hunting, while great opportunities exist for woodcock, duck, goose, squirrel and turkey. The park is also open to trapping, with beaver, coyote, mink and fox in population.
  • Dog Trial Area – Dog field trials and training are frequent during the year. As birds are released for that sport which includes horse use, please be a good sportsperson and voluntarily stay clear of that activity. Field dog competitions are held throughout the year. This activity is coordinated with Michigan United Conservation Clubs and DNR Wildlife Division. Most clubs allow spectators to observe their events.
  • Beach House – Provides clothes-changing area for swimmers. Feature is ADA Compliant Provides changing area and modern bathroom facilities.
  • Swimming
  • Fishing – Shore and boat fishing is available on Sessions Lake and the Grand River. Stream fishing is available on Sessions Creek and Tibbits Creek. Sessions Lake, a 140-acre man-made lake, is 60 feet at its deepest point and has bluegill, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish and crappie fishing. Pier fishing is also available on Sessions Lake. There is a no-wake speed restriction.
  • Canoeing – Ionia Recreation Area has scenic canoeing and kayaking opportunities on Sessions Lake.
  • Picnic Area – Picnic tables and fire pits/grills Three picnic areas and 800 feet of beach on Sessions Lake can be used for swimming and sunbathing. The Beechood Picnic Area has a ball field and hiking trails. The Point Picnic Area is on the east of side of Sessions Lake and has hiking trails and a fishing pier. The Riverside Picnic Area is located between Riverside Drive and the Grand River. With four miles of river frontage, this area offers play equipment, a mountain bike trail, and a rustic boat launch for canoes and rowboats.
  • Picnic Shelter(s) – The picnic shelters at Riverside and Beechwood picnic areas are available free on a first-come, first-served basis or reservable at $50 a day. Call the park at 616-527-3750.
  • Hiking – There are 38 miles of hiking trails within the park that traverse woods, streams, lake shore, meadows and river bottom areas.
  • Bridle Trails – Trails may have other designated uses. There are 15 miles of equestrian trails throughout the park. These trails travel through acres of beautiful scenery. Horses are allowed on designated trails only.
  • Mountain Biking – Nine miles of designated mountain bike trails are available that travel through wetland, meadows, and a wooded trail along the Grand River. The Chief Cob-Moo-Sa Trail (Brown and Yellow Loops) are shared with hiking.
  • Snowmobile Area – Allowed with 4 Snowmobile Area – Allowed with 4″ of snow or more on the ground. The park is open to snowmobiling when there is four inches or more of snow. Snowmobiles are prohibited on cross-country ski trails and in campground areas.
  • Boating Access Site/Launch – Access for boating and fishing. A rustic boat launch on the Grand River on the road from the picnic area is open. A hard-surfaced ramp is available on Sessions Lake.
  • Cross Country Ski The entire park is open to cross-country skiing. Three designated trail loops include a 1.2 mile beginner loop, a 2.5-intermediate trail and a six-mile expert trail.
  • Metal Detecting Areas – Metal detecting is recognized as a legitimate recreation activity when it is conducted in ways that do not damage the natural and cultural resources in Michigan State Parks nor violate applicable state statutes.  Any items found must be reviewed by park staff and may be retained for further investigation. Areas located within the campground are limited to registered campers only.
  • Fishing in the Parks


Ionia Equestrian-Rustic
49 site(s)
Equestrian, Equestrian Camping, Rustic Site, Vault Toilet

Ionia-Camper Cabins
2 site(s)
Barrier-free Facilities, Beach, Fishing, Modern Restrooms, Paddlesports, Picnic Area, Swimming, Watchable Wildlife, Winter Camping

Ionia-Group Use Area
0 site(s), Contact the park
Group Use Area, Rustic Site, Vault Toilet

100 site(s)
Electrical Service, Mini Cabin, Modern Restrooms


Ionia-Chief Cob-Moo-Sa Trail
Trail Length: 9.00 (Miles)
Hiking, Mountain Biking

Ionia-Cross-Country Ski Trails
Trail Length: 10.50 (Miles)
Cross Country Skiing

Ionia-Equestrian Trails
Trail Length: 15.00 (Miles)

Trail Length: 3.50 (Miles)
Cross Country Skiing, Hiking

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