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Explore the Pristine Parks and Trails of Muskegon

In this stunning region of West Michigan, you can enjoy nature's beauty year-round.

By Kevin Litwin on April 28, 2023

The Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse in Michigan
Nathan Lambrecht

Nature’s beauty is easy to see in the Muskegon Lakeshore region. It starts with great views of Lake Michigan, and there are several other lakes to enjoy as well as hardwood forests, farmland and sand dunes.

Parks in Muskegon are also in abundance throughout the region, many of which are graced with scenic overlooks, trail systems and ample recreation opportunities.

“There are 30 parks within Muskegon itself, stretching from Richards Park and Aamodt Park in the eastern part of the city to Pere Marquette and Margaret Drake Elliott parks in the western portion,” says Matt Schwemin, Muskegon Parks supervisor.

Must Visit: Pere Marquette Park

One of the top spots is Pere Marquette Park, where you might think you’re in Florida when walking along the 2.5 miles of soft sandy beach. The sunsets are often incredible, and be sure to view Lake Michigan from the park’s long pier. Also visit South Breakwater Lighthouse.

“Pere Marquette, with its long beach, is where several big events are staged, especially in the summer,” Schwemin says. “That includes a major beach volleyball tournament, the Soccer in the Sand tourney, the Burning Foot Beer Festival and the Muskegon CrossFit fitness competition.”

Hackley Park in Muskegon, MI
Nathan Lambrecht

Delightful Parks in Muskegon

Another top site in Muskegon is Norman F. Kruse Park, where inspiring views of Lake Michigan and surrounding sand dunes are commonplace. The dunes are accented by multicolored grasses along with large oaks and other stout trees, and a charming boardwalk adds to the park’s beachfront appeal.

Ryerson Creek and McGraft Park each have large event centers that are rentable throughout the year. Hackley Park is a scenic 2.3-acre open space in the downtown district that has welcomed residents and visitors since the 1890s.

“Hackley Park hosts several downtown activities, including the Lakeshore Art Festival and the Lighting of the Tree ceremony every winter,” Schwemin says. “Another well-visited park is Veteran’s Memorial Park, highlighted by a fountain, paved trail and a Vietnam (veterans) memorial.”

Schwemin adds that also well worth visiting is Smith-Ryerson Park, which has basketball courts, a football field and a furnished community building with kitchen facilities. Smith-Ryerson also hosts a small concert series in the summer that runs from mid-July through August. A bowl-shaped stage provides excellent acoustics.

The Muskegon Lakeshore Trail near Pere Marquette Park

County and State Parks

Besides the City of Muskegon, county and state parks are also popular outdoor destinations in the region, including P.J. Hoffmaster State Park known for its breathtaking sunsets.

“The Hoff” features a hilly Hoffmaster Dune Overlook Trail, which provides great views of Lake Michigan, and plenty of summer shade is available thanks to a splendid, wooded area along the beachfront.

Also welcoming to residents and visitors is Muskegon State Park, highlighted by 2 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan and one mile along Muskegon Lake. Forested dunes help to rank the park’s sandy beach among the most scenic in America. Many amateur and professional photographers shoot pictures at the picturesque pier at Snug Harbor.

At Duck Lake State Park, the crown jewel is a towering sand dune that accents the sandy beach. Meanwhile, Lake Harbor Park has some of the best dunes to climb in the Muskegon area, and a bridge and observation decks provide views of all the wonders that Lake Michigan offers year-round.

Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park in Michigan

Ready for Some Winter Fun?

Be sure to check out the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park, where you can enjoy everything from luging and ice skating to cross-country skiing and snow shoeing. And there’s plenty of summer fun!

New Parks Abound

Yet another excellent outdoor haven is Meinert Park, located in Montague. Meinert has scenic overlooks – including a pedestrian bridge – that provide panoramic views of Little Flower Creek and the Lake Michigan shoreline, and visitors can also walk along rolling sand dunes.

And new to the region is Dune Harbor Park, a county-run facility in Norton Shores. Dune Harbor features miles of trails through forested dunes, and an inland lake is perfect for kayaking, fishing and nature viewing.

Highlighted by the forested valley of Mosquito Creek, a 500-acre project – anticipated to be one of the region’s premier multiuse trails – is underway, with more expansions coming in 2023.

“The Muskegon Lakeshore region is a beautiful place to be, any time of the year,” Schwemin says. “There is so much to see and do outdoors.”

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