Hawk Island Park: 11 Things to Do & Know About Lansing’s Favorite Park

Hawk Island Park Splash Pad

Bring Kids of All Ages to Hawk Island Park

Hawk Island Park
1601 E Cavanaugh Road, Lansing MI 48910

As a mom play-dating at parks in the Lansing area for over a decade, I can pinkie-promise that if you head over to Hawk Island Park with kids of any age – and at any time of year – they will have a blast! And so will you.

It can be a challenge to find a park that caters to everyone, but this one seriously has it ALL  – from baby swings and a splash pad for toddlers to swimming, boat rentals, fishing, sand volleyball, and biking for the older kids.

After summer, Hawk Island is a place that actually gets us excited for winter to hit! The downhill tubing and warming shack are a ton of fun. The tubing is great for anyone – from the age of 2 all the way up to the active grandparents.

Hawk Island Park isn’t just great for all ages, it’s also great for ALL seasons.

Hawk Island Beach and splash pad Kids water playground
View from Fishing area of Hawk Island Park Playground, Beach, and Splash Pad, Lansing MI

11 Helpful Things To Know about Hawk Island Park

1) Hawk Island Park Location + Tips to Know Before you go

One of my favorite parts of Hawk Island Park is the location.

Hawk Island Park is in south Lansing on 1601 E Cavanaugh Road, between Pennsylvania Ave and Aurelius Road. Park hours are between sunrise and sunset. Winter hours depend on conditions – you can check by calling 517-676-2233.

It’s an easy drive from any side of Lansing (or suburb).

This makes it a great regular meeting spot for making memories with everyone you love, no matter what side of town you’re from!

Each portion of the park comes with its own type of fun and this can require lots of “stuff.”

Bring a stroller or cart to easily navigate the grounds.

Bathrooms are located on each side of the park – one next to the splash pad and the other across the park toward the tubing hill.

From the playground, the bathrooms are a bit of a hike, so a potty-stop on your way in might help!

Hawk Island Park Playground overlooking the Beach, Lansing, MI

2) The Splash Pad at Hawk Island Park is a Big Draw

In the hotter summer months, the splash pad is a blast (and I have to add, kept noticeably clean) with everything from small gentle fountains for the little ones to exciting pour-over buckets for the olders.

The Hawk Island Park Splash Pad is located directly next to one of the parking lots, the snack bar, and bathrooms making this portion of the park an easy walk-up and cool-off destination convenient for an afternoon snack or ice cream treat!

Hawk Island Splash Pad kids playing in water
Hawk Island Park Splash Pad in Lansing, MI

There are lounge chairs available surrounding the splash pad area. Most days they seem packed but most Lansing families are so kind to point out an open spot.

If all are full, just wait a few minutes. There’s always seems to be a nice rotation so it’s likely a spot will open up quickly.

I will note though, that some days my family has set up “camp” with blankets and towels and the experience is just as lovely.

3) Make Sure to Spend Time at Beach

The beach is a quick walk across the lawn and offers another fun place to swim and cool off. Lifeguards on duty add peace of mind and make sure the lake is a safe and family-friendly place to enjoy those carefree summer days.

Hawk Island Beach Kids water playground
Hawk Island Park Sandy Beach in Lansing, MI

The grounds are vast making it easy to find a spot that’s perfect for your family. There is a portion of beach area and the rest is a well-maintained grassy area.

A trick we like to do is head to the beach first then splash pad last to wash away all of the sand before jumping back in the car.

Hawk Island Beach Grounds in Lansing, MI

4) Winter Tubing is Amazing at Hawk Island Park

Families visit from around the state to experience the tubing hill at Hawk Island Park! Once you go for the first time, you’ll want to make it a yearly tradition.

Here’s why:

  • The mechanical hill lift makes it super easy for anyone to get to the top (again, and again, and again) so you can save all energy for the thrill of the ride.
  • There are single and double tubes. Riding together makes it really nice and helpful if you have little kids.
Hawk Island Tubing Hill from the bottom
View from the bottom of Hawk Island Park’s Tubing Hill in Lansing, MI
Winter Refreshments are Available at the Concession Stand
  • You can warm up in the lodge where concessions are available or at the fire pit located at the bottom of the tubing hill.
Hawk Island fire pit at tubing hill
Hawk Island fire pit at the tubing hill in Lansing, MI
  • BONUS: The tubing hill can be rented out exclusively for a group. Great for a family reunion, birthday party, or field trip group.
The top of the Tubing Hill with Hawk Island Park in the Background

Find this year’s rates and details by calling the park office 517-676-2233.

5) Your Annual Pass Covers Three Parks & Gives You Free Parking

There is an entrance fee of $3 for an Ingham County resident or $5 for non-resident.

Instead, you can pay a $35 annual fee if you live in Ingham County  ($45 non-resident) – this gets you not only into Hawk Island Park for a year, but also into the Lake Lansing parks, Burchfield Park, and parking at the Lansing Zoo – if you visit these throughout the summer, it’s well worth it to get the pass.

Hawk Island Park Boardwalk surrounding the lake in Lansing, MI

6) How to Reserve Spaces for Parties & Hangouts

Pavilions and grills are located around the park and can be reserved for events up to a year in advance by calling the park office 517-676-2233.

You can take your chances by showing up and staking your place, but the reserved areas are very cool and worth the reservation.

Along with the pavilions and grills, it has a special covered area with picnic tables located by the splash pad and beach.

Hawk Island Park kids
Slide and playground overlooking the Hawk Island Park lake in Lansing, MI

7) Hawk Island Park has a Dog Park and Other Dog-Friendly Features

For parents of fur babies:

Dogs are allowed in most areas of the park as long as they are on a leash, with the exception of the swimming area.

Soldan Dog Park is also right next door and is the place to get a pup’s energy out!

Hawk Island Park Trail in the Fall
Hawk Island Park Paved Trail to Soldan Dog Park in Lansing, MI

8) Hawk Island Park Trails are Elite

Some want to play but others want to bike? No kids for the day? Take the the loop!

The Hawk Island Park trail paved walking/biking path circles right by the playground and is a beautiful 1.5. mile loop taking you around the entire grounds, some of which twist through the woods.

The path is easy with a stroller or great for little bike riders (or your newest two-wheel learner!) to safely practice and ride.


Bonus: The park’s hiking trails connect to the Lansing River City Trail, so the park is a great start and endpoint for a longer run or bike.

You can head south on the Lansing River Trail to several other parks or north connecting you to the MSU Campus or into Downtown Lansing.

Hawk Island Water Park Lansing Kids

There are also off-shoot trails throughout the woods along the water that you’ll love as well.

Also, when I happen to have a few hours to myself, the paved path is a beautiful place to run or meet up for a walk with a friend.

9) The Hawk Island Playground is a Kid Magnet

The community-built playground is one of the best in the area.

The wooden play structure has two different sections for different ages – perfect for those of us wrangling babies, toddlers, and elementary ages all at once.

Hawk Island Park playground swings by the beach in Lansing, MI

I will warn you though, kids do not like to leave this playground! The best part of that is just when they seem to be getting overheated, it’s perfect timing to run over to the water attractions.

Pack lots of water, they’re going to need it.

Hawk Island Park younger kids side of the playground in Lansing, MI

10) Geocache Your Way Through Hawk Island Park

There are a few geocaching located along the trails. Kids love to search and find treasures here.

If it’s your first time geocaching try an app on your phone or Geocaching 101.

Hawk Island Outdoor Play Lansing Michigan Water Kids
Overlooking the Lake & Island at Hawk Island Park in Lansing, MI

11) Paddle Boat & Kayak in the Lake at Hawk Island Park

Floating on the “swan” (swan paddle boats) is a highlight during the warmer months. You can rent these paddle boats as well as kayaks at Hawk Island Park. The rental building is located by the south parking lot and trailhead.

You are also welcome to bring your own boat.

Boating is SO much fun at Hawk Island because you get to see the actual island up close in the center of the lake, catch wildlife at a close distance, and see the park in a whole new way.

Swan paddle boat rental at Hawk Island Park in Lansing, MI

Hawk Island is Lansing’s Favorite Park for a Reason, yeah?! Have fun exploring it!

Want more? Explore other phenomenal parks using the Best Lansing Parks Guide (map included!)

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