Thursday, August 4, 2011

Outdoor Adventures with Children

Michigan's Best Outdoor Adventures with Children
Jim DuFresne

Noted outdoor writer, Jim DuFresne, suggests 75 adventures for families throughout the state of Michigan. I've highlighted a few destinations reasonably close to Kalamazoo

Outdoor Adventures with Children in West Michigan
1. Mount Baldhead
Mount Baldhead and Oval Beach Recreation Area
"Saugatuck, that trendy resort town on Lake Michigan, is hardly wilderness, but it does offer a fun adventure that includes riding a hand-pulled chain ferry, climbing Mount Baldhead, and sweeping views from the top of the forested sand dune. It ends with a pleasant descent of the dune's west side to Oval Beach, Saugatuck's renowned stretch of sand and Lake Michigan surf."

2. Graves Hill
Yankee Springs Recreation Area
"An old moraine makes a fine place for a child's first 'mountain climb' in southwest Michigan's Barry County. Graves Hill, the result of glacial activity, is located in the heart of Yankee Springs Recreation Area, one of the most popular units of the state park system. The loop trail is not strenuous but just steep enough to make children believe they're climbing a peak. The top rewards you with good views of the area, and the walk can be extended an extra mile to include Devils Soup Bowl, a deep depression."

3. Michigan Fisheries Interpretive Center
Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery
"The center attempts to capture all aspects of the Michigan fishery, from commercial fishermen and the present stocking program to the anatomy of fish. But to the delight of children, the displays are devoted mostly to sport fishing."

4. Backwoods Bikeways
Three Oaks Spokes Bicycle Museum
"But the museum is much more than old bicycles and wall displays. What it's really showcasing is Berrien County, a pedlar's paradise locals call 'Michiana.' This southwest corner of Michigan, with its secondary roads, patchwork farmland, lakes, streams,and rolling hills, is a great place for a family bicycle tour."

5. Warren Woods
Warren Woods Natural Area
"Most of Michigan's remaining stands of virgin timber are located either in the northern portion of the Lower Peninsula or in the Upper Peninsula. Except one. Surprisingly, in the southwest corner of the state, less than 10 miles from the Indiana border, are trees so big that most adults can't stretch their arms around the trunks and most children can't see the lofty tops. This unique spot is Warren Woods Natural Area, a 200-acre reserve featuring a rare, primeval beech and maple stand."

6. Love Creek
Love Creek County Park
"You can go nordic skiing at hundreds of places across Michigan, but for a change of place slip on a pair of snowshoes and trudge your way up the hills and through the beech and maple climax forest at Love Creek County Park."

7. The Ledges
Fitzgerald County Park
"Grand Ledge, the only place to do any serious climbing in Michigan, also makes for a fun adventure for children, even if they're years away from lacing up a pair of rock shoes. The town west of Lansing is named after 'The Ledges,' towering faces of sheer rock that border the Grand River."

8. Dune Overlook
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park
"You can view the most famous dunes in the Midwest all along the state's Lake Michigan shoreline, but the best place to teach children the significance of these mountains of sand is at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park on the outskirts of Muskegon."

9. Luge Run
Muskegon Winter Sports Complex
"Beginners depart from the lowest entry ramp on the 600-meter luge track, but they still zip along the iced runway at speeds of up to 12 to 15 miles an hours-- while lying on their backs. For kids, it's the most exciting 12 seconds they've ever had on a sled... in any position."

10. Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Silver Lake State Park
"For the boy or girl whose sandbox never has enough sand, there's Silver Lake sand dunes, the mile-wide strip that separate the inland lake from Lake Michigan. This is heaven on earth for people who like to wiggle their toes in the sand, climb steep slopes of sand, or run down dunes into a cool, refreshing lake."

Amazon has used copies; mine was from the library.

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