West Michigan is known to have some pretty great places to witness the natural beauty in our mitten state. In Muskegon County alone, we’re spoiled with not one, but three state parks. You’d be surprised to know that these parks often fly under the radar and are in desperate need to be shared with not only the world, but residents who live and work here.
I’ve taken note of many conversations had with friends, work colleagues and acquaintances that answer “not sure” when asked what their favorite natural destination is in our county. To them, I gush over some spots I frequent and do my best to lure them to the closest park. Our parks are unnoticed. I’m certainly guilty of this before I learned to slow down, take notice of my surroundings and connect. This is okay, we all get sucked into it. With all of the hustle required to remain present in our social world, it’s easy for anyone to look past something that doesn’t serve a purpose in the hustle; nature.
I ask you, have you driven the winding, dune grass peppered roads in Muskegon State Park? If you have, chances are that the view you saw competes in beauty with national parks and other coveted land formations. The massive dunes accompanied by our channel connecting Muskegon Lake with Lake Michigan offer an abundance of swimming, hiking, fishing and nature indulging opportunities.
How about the pine rows at Hoffmaster State Park? Do I dare say that the forest in this park is one of few in West Michigan where you could get lost and not want to be found? I do! At the edge of the forest, you’ll find a panoramic view of the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan transitioning your thoughts as you observe the broad horizon.
Have you witnessed the contrast of golds and greens when standing on the Scenic Drive bridge at Duck Lake State Park? To the east, you’ll see what seems like a desolate northern lake surrounded by pines and stocked with fish. West are golden dunes that meet one of Muskegon’s’ many pristine and accessible beaches. Wherever you find yourself in the park, much of its beauty can be witnessed with a paddle.
These three parks are special. They draw thousands of campers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts each year yet remain undiscovered by so many. A simple drive or hike opens these doors while camping is certainly an option (we can help you there). It’s easy to think that in order to get away from whatever it is people need to get away from, effort is required and distance must be traveled. That isn’t true for Muskegon County residents. Visit your parks, breathe the air, admire the color palettes presented; you’ll feel a world away.