Dogs No Dogs
Birding · Fall Colors · Historical Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
There is a charge for parking in the Oval Beach lot from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
This area includes a surprising variety of habitats: lake, river, oxbow, dunes, ponds, woods, and marsh. There are beautiful views looking east to the Crow's Nest, south to the lagoon, and west to the lake. You can picnic on the beach, wave at boats in the channel, search for animal life, or explore historic spots.
The trailhead is a sign at the end of the Oval Beach parking lot. From there, many people simply hike up the beach to the pier and back.
Please note that, in order to protect wildlife, dogs are only allowed on the beach areas of the trail and only if they are on a leash.
The trails are marked with sticks that have a brown hiker icon at the top. Some of the markers are hard to see. If you are exploring east of the beach you may want to have a copy of the paper map. Not all of the trails are included in this route.
A section at the beginning of the trail crosses private land but it follows the public right of way along the beach, so there is no problem. Halfway up the beach, take the trail that goes east toward a marsh.
Heading north on the east side, sections of the original trail are now underwater (#5 and #6 on the map). The only thing keeping this from being rated as an easy trail is that it is all sand.
Flora & Fauna
Eagles, gulls, plovers, terns, sandpipers, ducks, geese, herons, cranes, and rails. Deer, fox, raccoon, turtle, and woodchuck. Hibiscus, wild strawberry, blackberry, milkweed, and hairy puccoon. Cottonwood, birch, various evergreens, and other trees.
History & Background
The small loop in the southeast corner goes through an area where there was once a Potowatomi village and then a settlement called Fishtown.
The channel at the north end of the area was opened in 1906. The old one had entered the lake at the south end, where a lighthouse stood until a tornado destroyed it in 1956. The private home that now occupies the site incorporates pieces of the original lighthouse.
With the help of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, the area was protected in 2011 after being purchased with funds from several grants and hundreds of private donations.
Shared By: Chris Clark