Step It Up! Walking Challenge

Ottawa and Allegan County…lace up your walking shoes and get ready for a free 6-week walking challenge. Registration opens on Friday!

Ottawa and Allegan Parks and Recreation and Department of Public Health are teaming up to bring the community another Step it Up! Walking Challenge this fall.


Parks Naturalist, Kelly Morrissey, leads a walking group at Paw Paw County Park in Holland. Last spring, over 800 participants walked 106,609.6 miles – four times around the world!

This fall, participants will “virtually walk” 210 miles along regional trails in Michigan. The challenge begins on Monday, August 14 and registration opens on Friday, July 14!

This free 6-week program is designed to encourage participants to stay active as summer comes to a close. Participants of all fitness levels are invited to join – weekly prizes are available.

Optional group walks will be offered for those interested in getting their weekly steps in with a group while checking out Ottawa and Allegan County Parks (schedule below). Each walk will be led by a naturalist guide. Different pace groups will be available.

Participants will be able to track their individual progress online, including their cumulative steps taken. The Ottawa County GIS Department designed a map to see progress along the virtual trail. “When you login to track your steps, you’ll be able to track your individual progress. It was great to team up with GIS again to create an interactive component,” said Ottawa County Parks spokesperson Jessica VanGinhoven. “The tracking program is also mobile-friendly, so you can record your activity from your phone. These changes were made based on participant feedback and should make tracking activity much easier.”

“We were so pleased with the results of Step it Up last year,” said Ottawa County Department of Public Health educator Amy Sheele. “It really motivated participants to get moving and visit more parks. Of the individuals who completed our program surveys, nearly 40% reported an increase in their level of physical activity from the beginning of the Step It Up Challenge to the end! The average participant walked 216 miles over seven weeks.”

Past participants also enjoyed the program. In a survey following the program walk participants reported:

• Great program to encourage people to exercise and use the county park system.
• I loved this program! It motivated me to get walking again! I moved back to Holland two years ago and I learned a lot about the parks in Ottawa County through this program! I will be buying a pass and keep visiting our parks! Thank you very much!
• It has helped us lose weight and feel so much better.
• Prior to this challenge my daily steps were closer to 5,000 and since doing program I’m between 7,000-10,000 and some days way more. It challenged me to park further away and keep pedometer with me when walking around my house for a true count of my steps. Thanks for the motivation.

Registration opens this Friday, July 14!


Group Walk Schedule

August 14: Pigeon Creek Park, 5:30 PM
August 19: North Ottawa Dunes, 10 AM
August 19: Outdoor Discovery Center, 10 AM
August 22: New Richmond Bridge Park, 10 AM
August 24: Paw Paw Park (East), 5:30 PM
August 30: Grand River Park, 5:30 PM
September 6: Allegan Sports Complex, 10 AM
September 9: Rosy Mound, 10 AM
September 14: Upper Macatawa Natural Area (84th Ave entrance): 5:30 PM
September 21: Hemlock Crossing, 6 PM
September 23: Bysterveld Park, 10 AM