Michigan Trail Tuesday: Rosy Mound Natural Area, Ottawa County
Michigan Trail Tuesdays is a new feature that will showcase a different trail or trail segment each week. The Mitten State is home to thousands of miles of trails, including the new Iron Belle Trail that runs from Detroit in the southeast to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.
Ottawa County Parks manages 26 parks and 12 open space areas, with one of the most popular parks being Rosy Mound Natural Area. This 164 acre park connects to area bike trails, and is conveniently located close to US-31 south of Grand Haven. Rosy Mound features a wide, well-maintained trail of crushed stone that can be walked in just about any type of footwear. There are a lot of stairs, and on a few of our visits we found this area to be quite popular with local runners. In addition to the main hiking trail, there is another half mile of boardwalks that weave through the dunes for scenic views – be sure to stay on the boardwalk to prevent erosion.
The Ottawa County Parks website notes that “Rosy Mound is a classic Great Lakes dune system including high wooded dunes, foredunes, beach and a dune blowout. A 0.7 mile hiking trail from the parking area to the Lake Michigan shoreline includes 1,000 feet of stairs up and down the dunes and scenic views. A unique shade canopy, dune boardwalk trail and rustic toilets are located near the beach.” Signs along the trail explain the dune ecosystem and point out natural features, with overlooks placed along the way to the beach.
Once you reach the bottom of the stairs there is a shaded canopy for picnics, a swimming beach (swim at your own risk, no lifeguards), and rustic restrooms. This is an amazing section of Lake Michigan beach, and on a clear day you will easily be able to see the iconic Grand Haven Lights and pier from the beach. If you hike to the beach, cover all of the boardwalk, and make the return trip to the parking lot you can easily log a hike of around three miles that will feel like quite the workout thanks to all the stairs. We included this fantastic spot in our Lake Michigan Sand Dunes Day Trip: Ottawa County Parks.
Unlike many of the other Ottawa County Parks we have visited, there is a day use fee to visit Rosy Mound Natural Area ($7 as of our last visit). There is a payment kiosk in the parking lot. The parking lot has room for roughly 50 cars, and has indoor restrooms. Park hours are 7am to 10pm March through September, and 7am to 8pm October to February. Directions to Rosy Mound: from US-31, turn west on Rosy Mound Drive, then south on Lakeshore Avenue to the park entrance.