Lake Michigan Sand Dunes Day Trip: Ottawa County Parks
The southwestern shore of Michigan is famous worldwide for its stunning sand dunes, which have been formed over the years thanks to the wind and waves along Lake Michigan. We’ve previously showcased the dunes at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Warren Dunes State Park, and P.J. Hoffmaster State Park. Today we turn our attention to Ottawa County, which has an impressive collection of well-maintained parks and trails. Six great parks are located within a short drive of each other, stretching from Ferrysburg in the north to Holland in the south. Today, we’ll give you directions and all the necessary information so you can visit North Ottawa Dunes, Rosy Mound Natural Area, Kirk Park, Olive Shores, Van Buren Street Dunes and Mt. Pisgah. Each of these fine Ottawa County Parks is highlighted by Lake Michigan dunes, and if you’re camping at Holland State Park, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, or Grand Haven State Park this makes for a great day trip opportunity where the crowds tend to be smaller but the scenery is still amazing. You’ll find plenty of information about dune formation and preservation at these parks, and one park was even the site of filming for a movie! We’ve also included a slideshow of pictures for each park.
North Ottawa Dunes – Located close to US-31, North Ottawa Dunes manages to still be a great place for a quiet hike through more than 500 acres of wooded dunes. Dunes here reach heights of over 700 feet, and trails cover 10 miles. The property lies between North Beach Park (Ottawa County Parks), Coast Guard Park (City of Ferrysburg), and P.J. Hoffmaster State Park. More information can be found at: http://www.miottawa.org/Parks/pdf/Park_Maps/Trails_NOD.pdf.
From U.S. 31 take the Ferrysburg exit, then head west on 3rd Street to North Shore Drive. Head west on North Shore Drive for about a mile, where you’ll find parking and trail access at Coast Guard Park; 18201 North Shore Drive
Rosy Mound Natural Area – One of the crown jewels of the Ottawa County Parks, Rosy Mound Natural Area offers scenic views of Lake Michigan, a swimming beach, boardwalk trails through dunes and trees, and great views of several impressive dunes and dune blowouts. The trail from the parking lot to the beach is only 0.7 miles, but quite strenuous due to the number of stairs and changes in elevation. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, a motor vehicle permit is required for entry (available at self-pay kiosk). More information: http://www.miottawa.org/Parks/pdf/Park_Maps/rosy_mound.pdf.
From US-31 south of Grand Haven, head west on Rosy Mound Dr. then south on Lakeshore Dr. until you reach the park entrance; 13925 Lakeshore Dr.
Kirk Park – Dog owners (and their dogs) will love Kirk Park’s Off-Leash south beach area, and everyone will love the spacious, sandy beach and swimming area on Lake Michigan. Visitors will also find a picnic pavilion, playground, lodge (available for rent), hiking trails and more. A motor vehicle permit is required from Memorial Day to Labor Day (available at self-pay kiosk in parking lot). Find out more and check out a map at: http://www.miottawa.org/Parks/pdf/Park_Maps/KirkParkMap.pdf.
Located just south of the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and M-45 (Lake Michigan Dr.); 9791 Lakeshore Dr. N
Olive Shores – The ending of the 2001 film Road To Perdition (starring Tom Hanks, Jude Law, Paul Newman) was filmed here, and one look at the peaceful Lake Michigan shoreline shows why it was a great choice. Olive Shores features dune trails, a swimming beach, and a plaque that gives more details about the movie. The dune trail features quite a few stairs and can be strenuous. A motor vehicle permit is required from Memorial Day to Labor Day (available at self-pay station). You can find a map and more information at: https://www.miottawa.org/Parks/pdf/Park_Maps/OliveShoresMap.pdf.
From US-31, head west on Stanton St. and follow it until its intersection with Lakeshore Dr. Follow Lakeshore Dr. south, then head south on Olive Shore Avenue when the road splits; 8555 Olive Shore Ave.
Van Buren Street Dunes – This small park features hiking on and off trails that wind through dunes in a quiet setting a bit more inland than those parks listed above. This area is open to firearm and bow hunting for deer, so plan your visit accordingly. You can find a map and more information about this park at: http://www.miottawa.org/Parks/pdf/Park_Maps/VanBurenStreetDunes.pdf.
From US-31, head west on Van Buren for four miles, parking is on the south side of the street and there is room for 4-5 cars; 16780 Van Buren St.
Mt. Pisgah – This is one of three sections that make up the Historic Ottawa Beach Parks in Holland (the others are Black Lake Boardwalk – East and Black Lake Boardwalk – West), and it features a trail that leads to the top of a dune with stunning views of Lake Michigan and Holland State Park. Reaching Mt. Pisgah requires a strenuous hike up many stairs, but the reward is the amazing view shown above – more than 150 feet above lake level. Find out more about the history of the Ottawa Beach area and where to park: http://www.miottawa.org/Parks/pdf/Park_Maps/HistoricOttawaBeachParkMap.pdf.
From US-31 take Lakewood Blvd. to Ottawa Beach Rd. (following signs for Holland State Park) and look for any one of the parking areas near the Black Lake Boardwalk. The trail stars near the intersection of Third Ave. and Ottawa Beach Rd.