Michigan Trail Tuesday: Sandy Hook Trail at Tawas Point State Park
Michigan Trail Tuesdays is our attempt to 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 and more miles of the North Country Trail than any other state.
One of our favorite Michigan state parks on the Lake Huron shoreline is Tawas Point State Park. This park is home to the historic Tawas Point Lighthouse, a large campground, a sandy beach, and a great hiking trail. Today we will take a look at the Sandy Hook Trail, a 1.5 mile loop trail at Tawas State Park that offers beautiful scenery and top notch birdwatching.
Parking for the Sandy Hook Trail is available in the day use area parking lots by the beach and those staying at the campground can reach it by following a paved path that connects the campground and the beach. You’ll find a trail map and other informational signage near the Tawas Point Lighthouse, an 1876 lighthouse that is open for tours in the summer months. The tower is 67 feet tall and is also open for visitors to climb up for amazing views!
The Sandy Hook Trail is mostly flat and heads out on a point of landed bordered on one side by Tawas Bay and Lake Huron on the other. This is a popular migratory stopping point for birds with over 200 different species recorded here each year. On our visit we saw gulls, warblers, swallows, wrens, killdeer, northern flickers, and orioles.
It can take between a half hour and an hour to complete this trail, depending on how much of the beach you end up walking. Take your time to enjoy it and stay alert for wildlife! Be sure to stay on the trail and follow all posted signs, parts of this trail are closed at periods of high water. Informational signs help visitors learn about snakes, terns, piping plovers and other wildlife that call this magical place home.
The trail typically sees a lot of use during daylight hours, so your best birdwatching times are early morning or later in the evening. Bicycles and pets are prohibited on this trail, and it was disappointing to see people not follow these rules when we visited earlier in July. Please also remember to not touch wildlife, as we watched an irresponsible child pick up a killdeer chick that was on the ground, as its mother loudly tried to keep people away. Please enjoy Michigan’s beautiful state parks responsibly!