If you enjoy being outdoors but want to skip the tourist hotspots, these hiking trails near the West Michigan lakeshore will be perfect for you. These five hidden gem trails are a great way to experience the beauty of this part of the state while staying close to the stunning shore of Lake Michigan.
Rosy Mound Natural Area
Rosy Mound Natural Area is located about 10 minutes south of Grand Haven. The out-and-back trail is a moderate level 2 mile hike. The trail winds through tall white pines, eventually taking you up through a hardwood canopy to the top of a large hill. From this overlook, you can enjoy sweeping views of the pristine dunes that lead out to the lakeshore. Then it’s down a set of stairs to the beach where a boardwalk carries you across the fragile dune ecosystem to the water. The trail is well-maintained and good for many experience levels, though the stair climb may exclude those avoiding strenuous activities. Dogs are unfortunately not allowed in the natural area to preserve the environment.
Although not as busy as the other parks and beaches surrounding Grand Haven, Rosy Mound can get popular on many summer weekends. To avoid the crowds, we recommend visiting in the spring and fall or during weekdays.
Duck Lake Trail
North of Muskegon, just off N. Scenic Drive, is an underappreciated West Michigan lakeshore hiking trail along Duck Lake. Although there’s a network of trails tucked away here, it’s popular to do the out-and-back along the calm waters of the lake. This trail is a little over 3 miles long and is rated as easy. It’s perfect for a quiet walk with the dog. This spot is hardly ever crowded and becomes even more secluded once you venture further from the parking lot. Duck Lake Trail is ideal for a peaceful getaway and offers the opportunity to see wildlife like birds, fish, deer, and small animals.
Sanctuary Woods Trail
The Sanctuary Woods Trail is a short hike near Holland, close to the beach by Macatawa. It’s not quite a mile long but makes up for it with 171 steps leading to a scenic perch on a hill. Trees at the top protect you from the wind off the lake and make this overlook feel like a castle. The way up is peaceful and quiet — minus the sound of your thighs calling out for you to stop and rest.
Despite being close to town, this trail is not very busy. There are many days you can have the place to yourself. Bring your leashed dog to tire them out. If you’re looking for a quick, moderate trail to get your heart rate up, you’ll have to put Sanctuary Woods on your list.
Saugatuck Dunes North Loop
Even though the Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a popular summer spot, the park is so big there are plenty of areas to spread out. The North Loop trail in particular is much less busy because it takes a longer route to the beach, rather than the well-traveled straight shot from the parking lot. This trail meanders through pines and gradually becomes sandier until the dunes suddenly open up in front of you, spilling you out onto the lake.
Pack a cooler, put on some comfortable shoes, and make the scenic trek around this 3-mile loop. Bring a few friends and spend the day at the beach. You can even bring your leashed pup on this West Michigan lakeshore hiking trail.
Hemlock Crossing Trail
Hemlock Crossing is a hidden gem 239-acre property with easy and moderate trails for all skill levels. Located off West Olive Road, this spot is well-known to locals but not tourists. There are 6 miles of trails to explore along the banks of Pigeon River, which are accessible year-round for walking, running, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Leashed dogs are allowed on these trails. For a longer hike, continue to Pine Bend trails that connect at the west end.
Get outside and take the trail less traveled! Escape the crowds but stay close to lakeshore to enjoy the trademark sunset after a satisfying hike.
West Michigan’s trails enjoy the diverse views of the sandy dunes, peaceful forests, and of course, the stunning lakeshore. If you want to be closer to outdoor activities and more of the lakeshore’s views, why not make West Michigan home? For available listings in lakeshore communities, reach out to the team at BlueWest Properties.