Sunday, October 15, 2017

Laketown Beach

I can't remember when I last found a "new" beach in Southwest Michigan.  It's been easy to fall back on a favorite park: Saugatuck Dunes, Warren Dunes, or Grand Mere and not explore new places.  A couple of weekends ago I stumbled across Laketown Beach Park, a few miles north of Saugatuck Dunes. 

Laketown Beach is a quirky little park featuring some impressive stairs.  The park starts with a small parking lot where 142nd Avenue dead-ends at the dunes.  A few signs, a porta-potty, and some stairs.  And then some more stairs.  Then a few more. 

From the top, there's a nice view of Lake Michigan and a long flight of stairs leading to the beach and water.  The Awesome Mitten blog claims the round-trip takes nearly 500 steps.

The beach frontage on the Lake is fairly small.  Big signs mark private land on either side of this township park.  There was plenty of room for a picnic in early October, but I imagine it could fill up in mid-summer.
While you can't lay out a blanket on the private beaches, Michigan law allows people to walk along the lakefront, whether the land is privately or publicly owned. So, the private beach signs don't say, "Keep Out," they say, "Keep Walking."

I enjoyed a long walk along the lake, turning back near Saugatuck Dunes State Park. 

I didn't walk north from the park, but Holland's "Big Red" lighthouse was visible in the distance.  It's about 3 miles away, so it could be an ambitious beach walk.
Laketown Beach Park
6710 142nd Ave.
Holland, MI 49423


Sunday, October 1, 2017

MapleHeart Trail

The MapleHeart Trail connects Goshen, Indiana to Elkhart and its name brought images of majestic trees, perhaps painted with early fall color.  I'd biked the Pumpkinvine Trail out of Goshen and I expected a bucolic ride through rural Indiana.

But, I was wrong.
The MapleHeart Trail is a purely practical connector between Goshen and Elkhart.   It's neither tree-lined nor rustic.  It's basically a wide side-walk along a county highway.  If you live in Goshen and want to get to Elkhart, the trail takes you there, safely and easily. Transportation over recreation.  Practical bike routes make a lot of sense given the large Amish population in the region, who use the trails to commute.

To be fair, it's a nice ride to the attractive Ox Bow County Park, about halfway between the two towns.  It also connects to the Pumpkinvine Trail, for those wanting a longer ride.
My ride started in Abshire Park, east of Goshen.  From there, it was 9 miles to Elkhart, on a combination of the Pumpkinvine Trail, the Wilden Avenue Connector, and the MapleHeart Trail.  It was a beautiful afternoon and good exercise, even it not exactly what I expected.