• Susan Poirier

A Hidden Lake Michigan Shoreline Gem for Views and Solitude

Updated: Jan 7

Solitude from the chaos of the world. It’s remarkable what a short trip to Lake Michigan can do for both physical and mental health. The early Fall temperature is near-perfect with Mediterranean-blue water and an invigorating breeze off the lake. Clearly, these are the best conditions for hiking.

Flower Creek Dunes, thirty-one acres of West Michigan Land Conservancy’s protected dune habitat, is quietly tucked-away along the Lake Michigan coastline just north of Muskegon. The beach hike plus stairs and elevation offer a great work-out with outstanding Lake Michigan views.

This is a stretch of coastline where the endangered Great Lakes piping plover can be sighted on their migration in early spring or late summer, and it’s also a migration path for the endangered monarch. I saw more monarchs on a recent September hike at Flower Creek than I’ve seen in years. This was uplifting.

Set your GPS to 8501 Meinert Park Road, Montague, 49437. Access the preserve from Meinert Park, about a ten-minute drive west off US 31. Park in the lot on the left (south side) when you reach the park, and you’ll see the access to the beach straight ahead.

Follow the shoreline north about one-fourth mile. You won’t see any signs yet for the nature preserve, but as long as you’re heading north along the coastline you’re in the right place. There are private residences along the beach (after you’ve passed the Meinert Park boundary) but the shoreline is accessible to everyone.

You’ll see the West Michigan Land Conservancy sign for Flower Creek pointing in the direction of the stairway path which leads up to the woods and an overlook with fantastic views over the lake. The stairs loop back around to the beach or you can access an intersecting trail into the woods.

Lake Michigan water levels are high. Be aware of narrowing stretches of the shoreline adjacent to coastline erosion. If you follow the trail stairs through to the end point taking you back toward the beach, you’ll be at a cliff too high to access the shoreline. Either reverse back on the stairs to the origin or hike a short distance south (through a grassland trail) to safely access the shore.

Please be aware and mindful of the potential for stressing birds as well as sensitive plants and habitat, as endangered shorebirds and the rare, endangered Pitcher's thistle. Dogs must be on a leash at all times.

Winter clouds and snow will be here in just six weeks or so. Carpe diem, seize the day!

#WestMichigan #biodiversity #migratingsongbirds #migration #nativeplants #habitatloss #Michigan #migratorystopovers #birdmigration #endangeredspecies #hiking #dayhiking #dunes #duneecosystem #GreatLakespipingplover #pitchersthistle



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