About Lowell Area Recreational Authority (LARA)
The Lowell Community is uniquely located in West Michigan at the confluence of the Flat and Grand Rivers, headquarters of the 4,800-mile-long North Country National Scenic Trail, and located in the middle of the 125-mile Fred Meijer River Valley Rail Trail network.
In 2004, the City of Lowell, Lowell Charter Township, and Vergennes Charter Township worked cooperatively to establish the Lowell Area Recreation Authority (LARA) for the purpose of developing, acquiring, constructing, operating, and maintaining recreational trails for the use and enjoyment of the residents of and visitors to the greater Lowell community.
The seven-person LARA Board consists of an elected official from Vergennes Township, Lowell Charter Township, and the City of Lowell as well as 3 representatives from each municipality and one jointly appointed at-large representative. This multilateral cooperative effort is intended to give each of the member communities an equal voice in the LARA recreation planning efforts.
Planning for the initial trail project began in 2004 with construction completed in 2010. This section of
the trail was 3.1 miles long and connected Lowell High School to Cherry Creek Elementary, including
connections to the Wege/Wittenbach Nature Center, Creekside Park, and the Cooper Woodlands.
In 2020, a section along Alden Nash Road from Gee Drive to W. Main Street was added, connecting the
the trail to the recently developed North Grand River park.
In 2019, the Fred Meijer River Valley Rail trails were extended from the City of Belding and the Village of Saranac to the edges of the Lowell community. A master plan for connecting the existing LARA trails to this regional trail system was developed in 2018. Through a generous combination of state and local grants, community foundations, and private donations, fundraising for this connection is complete and the design of the first phase is underway, with an anticipated opening in 2024.