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Upper Macatawa Natural Area: 76th Avenue Loop

76th Ave.
Zeeland, MI 49464
Phone: 616-738-4810
Website

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Ottawa County
Lat: N 42° 48' 43.37"
Lon: W 085° 58' 11.42"
Distance: 1.75-mile loop
Trail Type: Mowed lanes, foot paths
Terrain: Macatawa River, wetlands
Difficulty: Easy
Nearest City or Town: Zeeland

A loop departing from the 76th Avenue trailhead heads to the north end of Upper Macatawa Natural Area, along the way sidling the Macatawa River and merging briefly onto the paved Upper Macatawa Greenway. You pass beneath a power line four times along this 2.1-mile hike and the scenery is not nearly as interesting as the 84th Avenue Loop. But the terrain is level and the walking easy.

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From the parking area a paved trail leads south 100 yards to a bridge across Dutchman’s Creek and a junction post on the other side. Head west (right) and a mowed lane will skirt the small stream and pass underneath the power lines.

At Mile 0.3 you use a bridge to cross Macatawa River and then head south (left) to follow the river briefly before heading west (right) at the first junction. A second junction quickly appears where you follow the northern trail (right) to skirt the base of the ridge that encloses the Upper Macatawa floodplain for the next half mile.

At Mile 0.8 the foot trail merges into Upper Macatawa Greenway and you continue north on the paved path then east to skirt the north end of the natural area. In less than a half mile the hiking trail peels off to head south along Macatawa River. Most of the year the Upper Macatawa River is more a drainage ditch than a river. You pass beneath the power line yet again and at Mile 1.8 return to the foot bridge across Macatawa River.

Backtrack The first leg of the trek to cross Dutchman’s Creek and return to the trailhead parking area.

The trailhead parking areas are off 84th and 76th Avenues and feature parking, vault toilets and information kiosks.

The Upper Macatawa Natural Area is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. from April through October 31 and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. the rest of the year. There are no vehicle or entry fees.

The Upper Macatawa Natural Area is located in Zeeland Township. To reach the 84th Avenue trailhead depart I-196 at exit 52 and head east on Adams Street and then north on 84th Avenue. The 76th Avenue trailhead is reached by departing I-196 at exit 55and heading east on Byron Road on 76th Avenue.

Contact Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission at (616) 738-4810 or www.miottawa.org/parks.

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