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OUTDOORS

Happy Trails

 


 

This area is home to multiple hiking trails, all within close reach of civilization but miles away from your everyday cares.

Combining the tranquility of the woods with the meditative sights and sounds of the water, hiking in Saugatuck/Douglas is the quintessential experience for outdoor lovers looking to explore our region. Whether you’re looking for spring wildflowers, seeking shade in summer, admiring the fall colors, or making tracks in the snow, it’s a great way to invigorate your senses and burn a few calories. So, grab your water bottle, and let’s go.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

A network of wide, sandy trails winds through the woods, where you’re surrounded by soaring maples, fresh-scented pines, and birdsong. This park encompasses 1,000 acres of steep slopes, rolling hills, and freshwater coastal dunes and includes two and a half miles of secluded Lake Michigan shoreline. For a leisurely afternoon hike, you can take the North Trail to the lake, walk south along a secluded stretch of shore, and return on the Livingston Trail. Or go late in the evening and hang a hammock at the top of the 200-foot dunes for an incomparable view of the sunset.


Trailhead: 138th Ave. in Saugatuck

Trail Length: 2.5-5.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Fee: Free to MI State Park pass holders, $11 for a day pass at the gate



Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area

Stretching along the rolling dunes north of Oval Beach, this sandy trail takes you through a 173-acre protected natural area showcasing unspoiled dunes, the remnants of the historic Fishtown pier, delicate wetlands, the Kalamazoo River channel, and a long, peaceful strip of Lake Michigan. Watch for migrating birds in the sky and deer tracks in the sand. Because of this area's unique landscape, hikers are asked to stay on the designated trail system to protect the dune and wetland ecosystems.


Trailhead:  North end of Oval Beach parking lot

Trail Length: 2.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Fee: $10 for a day pass at the gate (or leave your car behind and take the $1 chain ferry to the beach) May (Memorial Day)-September (Labor Day); free September (post Labor day) to May (pre-Memorial day)

Mount Baldhead Park

Get your cardio in and earn some bragging rights by summitting Mount Baldhead. The round radar station marks the top of the trail. To reach it, climb the long wooden staircase (don’t worry, there are benches on the landings where you can rest) and enjoy the bird’s eye view of the harbor and town. Then if you like, run down the sand dune to the beach and get some ice cream…you’ve earned it.

 

Trailhead: Park Street in Saugatuck

Trail Length: Around 300 steps—each way!

Difficulty: Strenuous

Fee: Free

 



Tallmadge Woods Loop

The Tallmadge Woods Loop is a 1.6-mile loop starting and ending at the mouth of Ox-Bow School of Art. Park your car or get dropped off by the Interurban at the Mt. Baldhead parking lot on Park Street and walk north to the start of the trail. This quiet hike provides views of the Kalamazoo River and will take you along dune ridges, eventually leading to an overlook with views of Lake Michigan and Ox-Bow Lagoon. This trail is suitable for people of all skill levels, only gaining 219 feet of elevation, and is an excellent location for bird watching and wildlife.

 

Trailhead: End of Park Street in Saugatuck, just before the entrance to the Ox-Bow School of Art (private property). It's easy to miss as the trailhead is unsigned.

Trail Length: 1.6 miles

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Fee: Free



Wade Memorial Nature Sanctuary Trail

Located three miles east of Saugatuck, this nature sanctuary encompasses 72-acres of American beech, sugar maple, dogwood, and hemlock trees on a high bluff overlooking Silver Lake. A prime spot for birdwatching, this rectangular one-mile trail loop is flat and easy to navigate, perfect for hikers of all ages, abilities, and interests. To get there, take Old Allegan Rd to 62nd street.

 

Trail Length: 1 mile

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Fee: Free

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