Allegan State Game Area
Allegan State Game Area is managed primarily for waterfowl, and during the fall migration, 75,000 to 100,000 Canada geese alone stop in the game area to rest for a week or two before continuing their flight south. Peak migration traditionally occurs from November 1 to 15, when as many as 30,000 geese may be in the preserve at one time. It’s an impressive sight and a lot of honking.
The area is also known for its variety of warblers. But the most famous bird here is the wild turkey. After being hunted into extinction in this area, the DNR reintroduced the wild turkey in 1954. In November 1965, after a stable flock had been established, the first modern-day season in Michigan was held.
Spread across the game area are almost 30 miles of foot trails with the heart of the system centered around Swan Creek and separated by the 118th Avenue dam. To the north is a 5-mile loop along the creek to the edge of Koopman Marsh. This stretch attracts steelheaders. For hikers, however, the much more scenic route is to the south, where a 5.8-mile loop skirts Swan Creek Pond and then the creek to 116th Avenue.
Although the area is not hilly, both trails follow the base of a river bluff at times and contain a surprising amount of up-and-down hiking. They also pass a number of marshes and areas of stagnant water, which means the bugs can be thick here from late May through mid-August.
Another system of short trails is centered around the Ely Lake Campground while connecting the Allegan County campground and the Swan Creek hiking trails is the Wakazoo Trail, also referred to as the Northwest Trail. This 14-mile loop, one of the longest trails in southwest Michigan, is a relatively flat route that at times skirts equestrian trails and crosses backcountry roads.
Horseback riding is a popular activity in the state game area thanks in part to the Allegan County Equestrian Trail System (ETS), a 60-mile network of designated equestrian trails. The ETS consists of two separate trail networks with much of the system is centered around Silver Creek Equestrian Park and Campground east of M-40 near Hamilton. But equestrian trails do connect Ely Lake and the Swan Creek area and day ride parking areas have been set up at Pine Point and the Ely Lake Campground.
In the winter a system of cross-country ski trails is open when there is sufficient snow. The ski trails form six loops that span from north of M-89 to southwest of 116th Avenue and total more than 19 miles. The main trailhead in the winter is near the Allegan State Game Area Headquarters on 118th Avenue.
|Difficulty - Easy|
|Difficulty - Moderate|
|Difficulty - Challenging|