Ottawa County Parks: A Guide To 27 Scenic Sites For Outdoor Adventures
Ottawa County is home to around 300,000 residents and is highly regarded for its sandy beaches, rich history, and outdoor recreation opportunities. It has 24 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and the Grand River traverses the width of the county, so it is little surprise that most of the county’s parks and open spaces are centered around water. Ottawa County Parks operates more than 40 sites, including 27 county parks and 12 open space land areas. It has taken us a few years to finally visit all 27 county parks, but now that we have we are able to share this guide with you. At these parks you will find sand dunes, scenic views, trails, beaches, picnic areas, disc golf courses, wildlife viewing opportunities, winter recreation opportunities, and more. Some of our personal favorites are Rosy Mound Natural Area and North Ottawa Dunes for hiking, Tunnel Park for beach days, and Pigeon Creek Park for wildlife watching. Parks are listed in alphabetical order below, and a great map can be found at MiOttawa.org.
Adams Street Landing (Adams St. west of 104th, Holland) – This small park is located on Adams St. just west of I-196. It has picnic tables and offers fishing opportunities on the Macatawa River. The main draw is canoe and kayak access to the river, as a paddle from here to downtown and beyond can be an awesome trip that only takes a few hours.
Connor Bayou (12945 North Cedar Dr., Grand Haven) – This park has almost a mile of frontage on the Grand River, offering great opportunities for fishing, hiking, and wildlife watching. Trails follow the river and also wind through the woods, and connect to the Idema Explorers Trail on the park’s east side. You’ll also find a kayak launch here as well as the Woodland Cabin, a log cabin that is available to rent for group use.
Crockery Creek Natural Area (end of Wren Dr. west of Leonard St., Nunica) – Stop and check out the historic barn near the parking lot before you hit the trails here. Around two miles of trails open for hiking and cross country skiing here offer a great chance to explore the forest, meadow, and swamp. Keep your eyes peeled for a wide variety of birds and possibly even an otter in the creek.
Deer Creek Park (13426 60th Ave., Coopersville) – Another small park, Deer Creek Park is popular for picnics and fishing. You can launch small watercraft here for a day of paddling or trying your luck fishing in the Grand River, or stop and relax while watching the sky for hawks and eagles.
Eastmanville Farm (7851 Leonard St., Coopersville) – A sign near the parking lot tells the history of this property that was once the county poor farm. A barn from the 1930s and a small cemetery are all that remain, and now wide hiking trails lead through the Eastmanville Farm property for hiking and equestrian use. Several miles of trails explore the rolling hills and open space of this beautiful park.
Grand River Park (9473 29th Ave., Jenison) – A perfect park for families, Grand River Park may be small but has a lot to offer. Three miles of trails here are open to hiking, biking, and cross country skiing. Overlooks offer great views of the wetlands and the river. There is a boat launch on the Grand River, a picnic shelter, a playground, and even a sensory trail that was added in 2018.
Grand Ravines (North – 9920 42nd Ave, South – 3991 Fillmore St., Jenison) – This park has two separate parking areas, with the south having quick access to a large dog park and a historic barn and the north having better access to the Grand River, a historic covered bridge, and trails. This awesome park has several miles of trails, a lodge that can be rented for events, and many chances to see wildlife. One of the highlights of visiting is walking across a 275 foot suspension bridge over one of the namesake ravines. The easiest access to that bridge comes from the south and involves about a quarter mile of trail walking. This was a 2015 addition to the park and according to the county is believed to be the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the state.
Grose Park (22200 24th Ave., Casnovia) – Another excellent park for families with young kids, Grose Park has great playgrounds and a beautiful swimming beach on Crockery Lake. There are volleyball courts and horseshoe pits, as well as several large picnic shelters that can be reserved. Nature trails head into the woods and alongside a creek and offer plentiful wildflowers in the spring.
Hager Park (8212 28th Ave., Jenison) – Hager Park is loved by families thanks to its multiple playgrounds. The Age of Discovery playground has a large wooden play structure with everything a kid could want, and it overlooks a terrain map of the USA (shown above). The south playground has a zipline and other equipment, and several indoor rooms and outdoor picnic shelters make this an ideal place for weddings, graduation parties, birthdays, and other events. Nature trails through the property wind through the woods and follow Hager Creek, offering great wildflowers and wildlife viewing.
Hawthorn Pond Natural Area (9876 Black River Ct., Holland Twp.) – This park is jointly owned by the county and Holland Township and was a bit of a surprise for us. Located behind a busy Love’s Travel Stop and right next to busy I-196, we found this small park to still be a great place for some quiet reflection. A trail circles the pond, while platforms offer fishing opportunities. There’s even a kayak launch for those looking to have a relaxing paddle. Keep your eyes open for birds and other wildlife near the pond and the Macatawa River!
Hemlock Crossing (8115 West Olive Rd., West Olive) – Home to an awesome Nature Center and a Public Observatory that will open soon, Hemlock Crossing is one of the most-visited parks in Ottawa County. More than six miles of trails wind through the property, offering chances to see birds and other wildlife and enjoy the scenery along the Pigeon River. A kayak launch is located here for paddlers looking to try out the Pigeon River, and on its west end Hemlock Crossing connects with Pine Bend, another Ottawa County park that we will talk about further down in this post.
Historic Ottawa Beach Parks & Ottawa Beach Marina (2278 Black Lake Ave., 2358 Ottawa Beach Rd., 2330 Ottawa Beach Rd., Holland) – If you’ve ever been to Holland State Park, you’ve passed a few Ottawa County parks on the way there. See the historic cottages and check out the two sections of the Black Lake boardwalk, or launch your kayak or canoe (or fish) at the boardwalk’s east section. From the parking lot, cross the street and make the hike up Mt. Pisgah, a wooden stair dune climb that offers views from 150 feet above the beach. These parking areas have a two-hour time limit, so plan your visit accordingly.
Kirk Park (9791 Lake Shore Dr. N, West Olive) – Home to a popular beach on Lake Michigan and a very popular off-leash dog beach, Kirk Park is also home to a network of hiking and cross country skiing trails that provide amazing views while traveling through woods and over dunes. **This is one of the five beach parks we will highlight in this post that requires a motor vehicle permit from Memorial Day to Labor Day (purchase online here).
North Beach Park (18775 North Shore Dr., Ferrysburg) – The highlight of this park is the large, sandy beach on Lake Michigan. In the summer you’ll likely find it packed full of swimmers and sunbathers. A playground near the parking lot offers fun for the children, and a staircase that leads to the top of a dune offers some pretty amazing views of this park from above. **This is one of the five beach parks we will highlight in this post that requires a motor vehicle permit from Memorial Day to Labor Day (purchase online here).
North Ottawa Dunes (park at Coast Guard Park on North Shore Rd., Ferrysburg) – One of our favorite parks for hiking, North Ottawa Dunes connects to Hoffmaster State Park (north) and North Beach Park (southwest) and borders the newly developed Ottawa Sands. Ten miles of trails await here and offer whatever level of workout you’re looking for. “The property features tremendous topography with an elevation change of 185 feet in the parabolic dune formations. Eight distinct dunes in the rugged landscape exceed 750 feet in height for spectacular, scenic views of the surroundings.”
Olive Shores (8555 Olive Shore Ave., West Olive) – Enjoy a short but scenic stroll on the Dune Meadow or Dune Ridge trails as you head to the Lake Michigan beach here. Catch this beach on a quiet day and you’ll fall in love withe the amazing views. We enjoyed learning about a scene from the 2002 Tom Hanks film Road To Perdition was filmed here. **This is one of the five beach parks we will highlight in this post that requires a motor vehicle permit from Memorial Day to Labor Day (purchase online here).
Ottawa Sands (18153 North Shore Dr., Ferrysburg) – One of the newest additions to the county park system, Ottawa Sands is located on the site of a former sand mine. Four miles of trails wind through dunes and around an inland lake (fishing allowed from shore only), offering visitors the chance to get immersed in nature. Future plans call for the addition of camping.
Paw Paw Park (1099 Paw Paw Dr. and 1230 Paw Paw Dr., Holland) _ Formerly know as the Macatawa Greenspace, this park has a disc golf course where the former Holland Country Club was and a network of trails for walking and biking. Trails pass through wetlands and by the Macatawa River and Noordeloos Creek, with plenty of observation decks and bridges that offer great views and chances to see birds and other wildlife.
Pigeon Creek Park (12524 Stanton St., West Olive) – Well here we are, more than halfway through this list and finally getting to one of our absolute favorite parks. Pigeon Creek Park has some of the best all-seasons trails on the west side of the state, tons of wildlife viewing opportunities, and an amazing lineup of unique offerings. There is an equestrian trail, miles of hiking trails, and in the winter there are miles of trails for cross country skiing. The park rents equipment at the lodge, and both the sledding hill and three miles of the ski trails are lighted for use later in the day. We’ve seen tons of birds here and enjoy the creek loops boardwalks and observation decks for searching out frogs, turtles, snakes, and more!
Pine Bend (15400 Polk St., West Olive) – Like neighboring Hemlock Crossing, Pine Bend offers miles of trails for hiking and cross country skiing that wind through the forest and next to the Pigeon River. The Weaver House, a restored 1901 home, is reservable for weddings, meetings, and special events.
Riley Trails (16300 Riley St., Holland) – A favorite park for area mountain bikers, Riley Trails offers miles of trails with varied terrain for year-round use. Trails are also open for hiking, and fishing in the small lake here is another option. Trails are posted with a direction for bike traffic for each day and hikers are recommended to proceed in the opposite direction. In the winter, trails are open for cross country skiing.
Riverside Park (10317 N. Cedar Dr., Grand Haven) – The Grand River is the focal point of this park, which seems a lot bigger than it is. The park has almost a mile of shoreline, hiking trails that wind through wetlands, multiple picnic areas along the river, lots of places to fish, and a boat launch for those looking to get on the Grand.
Rosy Mound Natural Area (13925 Lakeshore Dr., Grand Haven) – Easily one of the crown jewels of the Ottawa County park system, Rosy Mound has an incredible section of Lake Michigan beach that you have to work to get to! “Rosy Mound is a classic Great Lakes dune system including high wooded dunes, foredunes, beach and a dune blowout.” From the parking lot to the beach is a 3/4-mile hike, but the 1,000 stairs make it seem like a lot longer. The reward is a sandy paradise on an unspoiled stretch of shoreline, or access to a boardwalk trail that runs through the dune. **This is one of the five beach parks we will highlight in this post that requires a motor vehicle permit from Memorial Day to Labor Day (purchase online here).
Spring Grove Park (1800 Greenly St., Hudsonville) – This park is great for photo ops, with a spring, trellis, paved path and bridge. A playground, ball field, and horseshoe pit offer something to do before or after a picnic and the reservable picnic building is perfect for hosting an event. Come see the wildflowers in the spring and come back as the leaves change color on the towering trees in the fall!
Stearns Creek (13594 136th Ave. or 13600 132nd Ave., Grand Haven) – You’ll find some great plants and wildlife while exploring the miles of trails here at Stearns Creek. “Although much of its 146 acres was worked for decades, the wetlands and shoreline are among the highest quality in the Ottawa County park system. Even the original old pine plantations on the south side of the creek harbored uncommon prairie plants when the land was purchased. These pine plantations have been thinned or removed to begin to restore a diverse habitat of scattered trees and abundant native grasses and wildflowers known as Oak savanna.” This park is a great testament to preservation and restoration in Ottawa County!
Tunnel Park (66 Lakeshore Dr. N, Holland) – A sidewalk and tunnel through a dune gives this park its name and leads to an awesome beach on Lake Michigan. This park is incredibly popular in the summer and in addition to the beach it offers a playground with a dune climb, multiple picnic areas, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and an observation deck with some great views of the dune and lake (we love it at sunset). **This is one of the five beach parks we will highlight in this post that requires a motor vehicle permit from Memorial Day to Labor Day (purchase online here).
Upper Macatawa Natural Area (1300 84th Ave. and 2171 76th Ave., Zeeland) – Popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and birdwatchers, the Upper Macatawa Natural Area offers a chance to get out into nature and away from the city. Picnic tables and overlook decks offer a spot to take a break, and in the winter the trails are open to cross country skiing (ungroomed).
Open space lands include Bend Area, Burr Oak Landing, Eastmaville Bayou, Grand River Open Space, Hiawatha Forest, Johnson Street Forest, Jubb Bayou, Kuits Bayou, Port Sheldon Natural Area, Ripps Bayou, Robinson Forest, and Van Buren Street Dunes. The county also manages Kouw Park in Holland and Windsnest Park in West Olive. Four regional trails run through parts of these parks: the Idema Explorers Trail, the Grand River Heritage Water Trail, the Musketawa Trail, and the Macatawa Greenway Trail.