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Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area

Easy/Intermediate
 5.0 (1) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Nature is on display as you run up the beach, then on trails through dune grass and along the edge of a marsh.


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Map Key

2.9

Miles

4.7

KM

100%

Runnable

606' 185 m

High

584' 178 m

Low

74' 23 m

Up

74' 23 m

Down

1%

Avg Grade (1°)

9%

Max Grade (5°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Historical Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

There is a charge for parking in the Oval Beach lot from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Overview

This area includes a surprising variety of habitats: lake, river, oxbow, dunes, ponds, woods, and marsh. There are beautiful views looking east to the Crow's Nest, south to the lagoon, and west to the lake. You can picnic on the beach, wave at boats in the channel, search for animal life, or explore historic spots.

Description

The trailhead is a sign at the end of the Oval Beach parking lot. From there, many people simply run up the beach to the pier and back.

Please note that, in order to protect wildlife, dogs are only allowed on the beach areas of the trail and only if they are on a leash.

The trails are marked with sticks that have a brown hiker icon at the top. Some of the markers are hard to see. If you are exploring east of the beach you may want to have a copy of the paper map. Not all of the trails are included in this route.

A section at the beginning of the trail crosses private land but it follows the public right of way along the beach, so there is no problem. Halfway up the beach, take the trail that goes east toward a marsh.

Heading north on the east side, sections of the original trail are now underwater (#5 and #6 on the map). The only thing keeping this from being rated as an easy trail is that it is all sand.

Flora & Fauna

Eagles, gulls, plovers, terns, sandpipers, ducks, geese, herons, cranes, and rails. Deer, fox, raccoon, turtle, and woodchuck. Hibiscus, wild strawberry, blackberry, milkweed, and hairy puccoon. Cottonwood, birch, various evergreens, and other trees.

History & Background

The small loop in the southeast corner goes through an area where there was once a Potowatomi village and then a settlement called Fishtown.

The channel at the north end of the area was opened in 1906. The old one had entered the lake at the south end, where a lighthouse stood until a tornado destroyed it in 1956. The private home that now occupies the site incorporates pieces of the original lighthouse.

With the help of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, the area was protected in 2011 after being purchased with funds from several grants and hundreds of private donations.

Contacts

Land Manager: City of Saugatuck

Shared By:

Chris Clark

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote

#1

in Saugatuck

#1644

Overall
  5.0 from 1 vote
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Saugatuck

#17

in Michigan

#1,644

Overall
45 Views Last Month
160 Since Dec 3, 2020
Easy/Intermediate

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Photos

High grass
Dec 3, 2020 near Douglas, MI
Near the marsh.
Dec 3, 2020 near Douglas, MI
Between the dunes
Dec 3, 2020 near Douglas, MI
Looking towards the pier
Dec 3, 2020 near Douglas, MI
Among the pines
Dec 3, 2020 near Douglas, MI
You can still see the remains of a channel that was closed up around 1910.
Dec 3, 2020 near Douglas, MI

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