Sunday, November 14, 2010

50 Hikes in Michigan Part 2

50 Hikes in Michigan
2nd edition with 10 extra hikes
Sixty Walks, Day Trips, and Backpacks in the Lower Peninsula
by Jim DuFresne 1999

In an earlier post I listed several hikes near Kalamazoo from this book's "Heartland" section. Author Jim DuFresne also recommends trails throughout the entire state. I've selected a few hikes from his Lake Michigan section that aren't too far from Kalamazoo.

Lake Michigan hikes

1. Mt Randal Trail, Warren Dunes State Park
4 miles
"This 1,952-acre park offers to hikers a 4-mile loop that includes a bit of everything: a stroll along Lake Michigan, stretches through forests, knee-bending climbs up mountains of sand."

Access: From I-94 exit 16. South on Red Arrow Highway about 2 miles. Camping. Crowded in mid-summer
Warren Dunes State Park

2. Warren Woods, Warren Woods Natural Area
2 miles
"The natural area is open daily from 8 AM-dusk year-round, but the best time to come is late September through mid-November when the leaves take on their autumn colors. Birders arrive in the spring, however, to look for warblers and other songbirds, while skiers enjoy the trails during the winter when there is sufficient snow. The trail is easy to follow and makes an ideal family outing."

Access: posted trailhead on Warren Woods Rd, 7 miles east of Warren Dunes State Park. Or unmarked access from Elm Valley Rd.
Warren Woods Natural Area

3. Baldtop, Grand Mere State Park
2 miles
"The unique land formations and flora that attract naturalists to the park are the reasons Grand Mere was designated a National Natural Landmark. The glaciers that scooped out the Great Lakes 10,000 years ago also carved out a number of smaller depressions along the western edge of the state, which evolved into interdunal lakes, ponds, and wetlands."

Access: South of St Jospeh. Exit 22 from I-94, then west on John Beers Rd which becomes Grand Mere Road. Then south on Thorton Dr to park.
Grand Mere State Park

4. North Trails, Saugatuck State Park

2.5 miles
"Saugatuck State Park is an 899-acre preserve that includes 2 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, windblown dunes, scenic vistas, and, right in the middle of this seemingly undeveloped wooded tract, the Michigan Dunes Correctional Facility."

Access: Exit I-196 at exit 41 onto Blue Star Memorial Highway, west. Then immediately turn right on 64th St. Go north 1 mile to 138th Ave. Left on 138th to park. Popular with x-country skiers.
Saugatuck State Park

5. Homestead Trail, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

2.7 miles
"In Michigan, we are blessed with a shoreline that showcases 275,000 acres of sand dune formations, the largest display of freshwater dunes in the world. They stretch from the tip of the state's thumb off Saginaw Bay to the giant perched dunes above Lake Superior and include the country's most famous dunes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes,off Lake Michigan. Perhaps the best place to learn and study about these truly remarkable formations is at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, where you can combine a visit to Gillette Nature Center, Michigan's Sand Dune Interpretive Center, with a hike through the various life zones of a dune along the Homestead Trail."

Access: From I-96, take exit 4 (Fruitport) south on 148th Ave, Then right (west) on Pontaluna Rd. 6 miles on Pontaluna to park.
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

6. Dune Ridge Trail, Muskegon State Park
6.5 miles
"The trail system is a series of loops that wind through an amazing variety of landscapes including open dunes, interdunal ponds, stands of century-old pines, and an area called Devil's Kitchen, where the mist rises and swirls as if Satan is stirring his caldron. The northern portion of the system surrounds the park's Winter Sports Complex and was cut as cross-country ski trails."

Access: from US 31 exit 118 onto MI 120. Take MI 120 southwest to Memorial Drive which goes into the park. Three campgrounds.
Muskegon State Park

7. Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Silver Lake State Park

6 to 7 miles
"One of the most unusual hikes in the Lower Peninsula isn't on a trail at all. This trek is a journey through Silver Lake State Park's trailless backcountry, a mile-wide strip of dunes between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan. There's not another hike like this in Michigan or even the Midwest because no other stretch of dunes is so barren."

Access: From US 31, south of Ludington, exit west onto Shelby Rd. Six miles to County Rd B15 (18th Ave). Right on B15 (north) for 5 miles. Pass park headquarters and park campground, then left on Hazel Rd. Follow signs to ORV parking lot.
Silver Lake State Park

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