Where to Go in the Sun or the Snow

Take awesome outdoor adventures in the Muskegon Lakeshore region all year long.

By
Cary Estes
On Thursday, May 7, 2020 - 11:13
muskegon

If variety is indeed the spice of life, then outdoor recreation in Muskegon County is about as flavorful as it comes. That’s because there is such a vast array of places to go for outdoor rec all year long, from relaxing summer afternoons spent hiking or fishing to embracing the winter with snowshoeing, ice skating and even taking a trip down a luge track.

“There are just so many things you can do around here all year,” says Muskegon resident Jon Venlet, owner and president of Millennium Capital Management. “We have incredible beaches. The Muskegon River is great for fishing, kayaking and tubing. There are a lot of parks and forestland for biking and hiking. We just have a really great variety.”

Here are a handful of key places to start exploring the lakeshore’s vast outdoor recreation options.

Muskegon Lake / Channel / Lake Michigan

The 4,150-acre Muskegon Lake is popular with both kayakers and anglers. During the winter, thrill-seekers hit the frozen surface for ice sailing. Paddleboarders enjoy the calm, narrow channel between Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan. And, of course, there is that great Great Lake and its 26 miles of sugar-sand beaches. “It’s just beautiful out there,” Venlet says. “We love taking the kids there to just hang out and watch the sunsets on the lake. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

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Winter Sports Complex

Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park

Muskegon State Park also is the site of Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park, which has the longest illuminated cross-country ski trail in the Midwest, with lights on nearly half the facility’s 10 miles of pathways. In addition, there are three ice skating rinks, a regulation hockey rink and a quarter-mile skate trail through the woods.

The park is best known for its 850-foot, six-turn luge track, one of only four such facilities open to the public in the U.S. Visitors can try their luge moves after just 15 minutes of instruction, making it an ideal wintertime activity.

“Since (cold weather) takes up a big chunk of the year, we make the most of it instead of just staying inside,” Venlet says. “We want to be outside, which is why there are always so many things to do around here.”

Pere Marquette Park

Located on the edge of Lake Michigan, Pere Marquette is a Muskegon city park that looks and feels more like an ocean beach in the summer months. Swimmers, kayakers and kiteboarders take to the water in droves, while volleyball players flock to the soft, sandy courts, where numerous tournaments are held each year. The park also is home to several annual events, including the Burning Foot Beer Festival.

“That park is one of my favorite places to go to,” Venlet says. “It has all the benefits of the ocean right here in Michigan. It’s one of the best things about Muskegon.”

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Riversedge Photography

Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve

Located less than 20 minutes north of Muskegon near Montague, Flower Creek showcases 31 acres of protected sand dunes along Lake Michigan and Big Flower Creek. A boardwalk leads to an overlook that provides panoramic views of the lake and surrounding unspoiled dunes.

Mosquito Creek Trails

The initial 3 miles of this 11-mile project opened late in 2018, and it has quickly become a favorite track for area mountain bikers in the warm weather months. Once completed, the trail system will spread across 500 acres in the heavily forested valley of Mosquito Creek. It will include both beginner and advanced biking trails as well as paths for hiking and snowshoeing.

“My son is 8, and he loves to go riding, but some of the technical trails are too tough for him,” Venlet says. “So having a trail that is perfect for a beginning rider is a great resource to have.”

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WikiMediaCommons/Darwin Smith Jr.

Muskegon State Park and P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

Kayaking and hiking are among the activities available at both parks. P.J. Hoffmaster is well known for the 193-step Dune Climb Stairway, a strenuous hike to gorgeous views 190 feet above Lake Michigan. At Hoffmaster, learn the history and importance of the lake’s dune system at Gillette Nature Center. The trails are not as taxing at Muskegon State Park, but they provide their own picturesque scenery while winding through intercoastal sand dunes. Both parks are known for trails and boardwalks that are easy to access for visitors with disabilities. Everyone can be immersed in nature experiences along the Muskegon Lakeshore.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cary Estes is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Ala.