Sunday, June 27, 2010

Prairie View County Park

Prairie View County Park
has a small swimming beach, picnic shelters, hiking paths, and a boat ramp. Hogset Lake is surrounded by public lands giving it an attractive natural appearance. Hogset is connected to bigger and more-developed Gourdneck Lake, which seems to draw more boat traffic.

899 East "U" Avenue
Vicksburg, MI

Admission $5; season passes available.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Water Lily

White Water Lilies (Nymphaea odorata) are one of Michigan's showiest flowers. These are common across much of the U.S. Of course, it's easier to see them if you have a boat.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

52 Michigan Weekends (summer)

52 Michigan Weekends: Great Getaways and Adventures for Every Season
by Bob Puhala
2000 (3rd edition)

This book has a Michigan destination for every weekend of the year. In earlier posts I selected Winter and Spring outings near Kalamazoo. Here are some summer suggestions from the guidebook.

West Michigan Summer Weekends

1. Saugatuck Idyll
"Located on a channel of the Kalamazoo River with mountainous dunes and Lake Michigan a stone's throw away, this quaint hideaway has been luring visitors to its small-town charms for more than 100 years."

2. Blueberry Bash
"I was surprised to discover that Michigan boasts the largest area of blueberry cultivation in the world, with an annual yield of nearly 55 million pounds."
National Blueberry Festival

3. Steaming across the Great Lakes

"At the height of the Great Lakes' cruising history, more than a half-dozen ferryboats regularly crossed Lake Michigan carrying passengers, cars, trucks, and freight between Michigan and Wisconsin."
SS Badger

4. Aboard a Fightin' Sub
USS Silversides

5. Sleeping Bear Dunes
Glen Haven
"The sprawling national preserve on the northwestern corner of Michigan's lower peninsula draws more than a million visitors to its sandy shores where mounds of migrating dunes extend more than two miles inland."
Sleeping Bear Dunes

You may also be interested in some of these Summer 2010 events.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Although the ephemeral wildflowers of the deep-woods are finished, woodland edge plants are blooming now. Spiderworts are eye-catching, with fresh blossoms every morning. I think this one is Ohio Spiderwort, or Bluejacket, (Tradescantia ohiensis.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lake Michigan Route from the Michigan Roadside Naturalist

The Michigan Roadside Naturalist
by J. Alan Holman and Margaret B. Holman
University of Michigan Press

An earlier post discussed some of this guide's geological and archeological facts. Another post looked at the route through Kalamazoo. This post looks at the southern section of their Lake Michigan Route, relatively close to Kalamazoo. The complete route ends in Mackinaw City

The Lake Michigan Route

Indiana Border to Holland (I-94 and US 31)

Magnificent dune formations, beautiful shoreline, woodlands. Ice Age fossils, Paleo-Indian route into Michigan, Middle Woodland/Hopewell settlements. In the mid-1600's, the Potawatomi and Miami tribes left Michigan to avoid the Iroquois-Huron wars, then returned in the late 17th century.

1. Archeological Sites on the Galien River

"Several small seasonal encampments were excavated in the bluff overlooking extensive wetlands along the Galien River at New Buffalo. These Upper Mississippian sites were used in the spring for gathering American lotus tubers that were roasted in deep pits, for gathering raspberries in the summer, and for hunting deer in the autumn."

2. Warren Woods State Park

"An important virgin stand of various hardwood trees including several species that are typical of more southern areas in the Carolinian Biotic Province such as the shagbark hickory as well as a few giant red pines." Rare warblers during spring migration.

3. Warren Dunes State Park

"Lovely views of Lake Michigan from towering dunes as well as trails through wooded dune country."

4. Grand Mere State Park
"This is one of the finest bird-watching areas in the state."

5. The French in Southwest Michigan
The first European site in southwest Michigan was Fort Miami founded by LaSalle in 1679, near the mouth of the St Joseph River. Fort St Joseph was upriver near Niles.

6. Van Buren State Park
"Another lakeshore park, and it is bordered by wooded, stabilized sand dunes."

7. Shipwreck
"In November 1891, a schooner called the Rockaway was carrying lumber from Ludington to Benton Harbor when it was lost in the Lake Michigan waters off South Haven."

8. Michigan Maritime Museum
South Haven at the Black River Bridge
"Exhibits relating to the maritime history of Michigan from Indian canoes to Great Lakes freighters." Archeologists from this museum excavated the wreck of the Rockaway.

9. Saugatuck Dunes State Park
"A difficult one-mile hike to the beach from the parking lot over wooded dunes cuts down the crowds."

10. Archeology on a "different" River

"The Kalamazoo River empties into Lake Michigan at Douglas and Saugatuck a few miles south of Holland. This river is unusual in comparison to other west Michigan rivers, the St. Joseph, the Grand, and the Muskegon. The Kalamazoo River, for most of its length, lacks the mature floodplains found along the other rivers, where each spring the waters overflow their banks, then recede so that a broad expanse of dry land is left where seed plants can grow. On the other hand, there are many broad a permanently wet swamps and marshes along the Kalamazoo." This lead to different uses in prehistoric and historic periods: Ottawa/Odawa would hunt along the Kalamazoo in winter. The Potawatami would use the same river at different times of year. Upper Mississippian sites from 1450-1550 show season use. Late Woodland people moved along the river year-round.

11. Historic Holland

"One of the centers of Dutch culture in southwestern Michigan."

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or, perhaps, at your local library.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tulip time

While the colorful tulips of Spring lost their petals weeks ago, the tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is blooming now. This tree isn't really a poplar; it's a member of the magnolia family. Southern Michigan is at the northern edge of this tree's distribution. Michigan's state champion tulip poplar is located in nearby Cass County's Russ Forest Park.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Short Bike Rides in Michigan

Short Bike Rides in Michigan
by Pamela Stovall

This guidebook suggests 41 road bike rides throughout the state. Most are between 10 and 20 miles long, on country roads. The book provides simple route maps and more detailed directions for each ride. It includes several rides near Kalamazoo.

West Michigan Bike Rides
1. Three Oaks Bicycle Museum Tour
Three Oaks-New Buffalo-Union Pier-Three Oaks loop

2. The Magical Mystery Tour
Nottawa-Colon-Nottawa loop

3. It's a Grrrreat Ride!: Battle Creek
loop centered on Battle Creek Linear Park

4. I got a ride in Kalamazoo: Kal-Haven Trail State Park
Kal-Haven Trail, then back on country roads

5. South Haven Side Ride
Kal-Haven Trail, then back on country roads

6. Gunning Down at Yankee Springs
Ride around Gun Lake

7. The Saugatuck Sashay
loop including Saugatuck, Douglas, & Fennville

8. Tulip City Tour: Holland
Loop north of Holland, starting at Holland St Park

9. The Coast Guard City Tour: Grand Haven
Loop south of Grand Haven

It seems like this book is out of print. There are used copies available from Amazon. My copy was from the library.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bike Grand Rapids

The Grand River runs through downtown Grand Rapids and the city is developing a system of pedestrian bridges and paths along it. Earlier this week, I took advantage of a sunny afternoon to explore Grand Rapids' riverside trails.

The downtown pathways are attractive, running along the shore past the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Gerald R. Ford Museum. Unfortunately, the trail on the west bank dead-ends a few blocks north of the museum complex. On the eastern shore, the trail continues a few blocks farther north until it also ends. I was pretty disappointed coming from Kalamazoo for such a short ride.

Rather than give up, I took city streets through a warehouse/light industrial district for a few blocks. A sign near the Ann Street bridge pointed to another bike route that continued along the river through Riverside Park. That trail then linked to the White Pine Trail which runs 100 miles to Cadillac.

While I didn't ride all the way to Cadillac, I did enjoy over two hours of solid biking, including a short side-trip on single-track dirt on the Rogue River Trail.

Map of Kent County Parks & Trails

The city's planning department has maps of the Grand Rapids trail system.

West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition

Biking Grand Rapids: See the city up close from mLive.