Hoffmaster State Park
From the observation deck there is a panorama of Lake Michigan and its shoreline beach, but most of all there are dunes, almost every which way you look. Well forested or wind-blown, these steep hills of sand make up the majority of Hoffmaster's 1,200 acres. Most visitors know they are viewing a portion of the worlds most extensive set of freshwater dunes but don't realize these are among the youngest geological formations in Michigan, formed only 3,000 years ago and constantly changing in appearance, size and their effect on the environment.
Michigan's sand dunes are perhaps its greatest natural treasure, and there may not be a better place to witness them or understand their natural history than Hoffmaster State Park, just south of Muskegon on the southern edge of Muskegon County. The park’s trail system allows visitors to view the entire plant succession of dunes, from the beach along Lake Michigan to pioneer dune grass and foredune country to the barrier dunes with their white pines and black oak forests. There is also Gillette Visitor Center, an interpretive center within the park, devoted to the state's sand dunes.
More than 10 miles network of foot trails loops through the park's dunes and along most of the 2.5 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline within its borders. The network basically forms a large loop stretching from the campground on the northern end to almost its southern border with several spurs cutting across it. There are several trailheads to the loop located at the campground, the day-use beach area and the Gillette Nature Center. The interpretive center is a popular place for many hikers to start the day as several trails begin here, including the Dune Climb Stairway, a half-mile trail to the park's designated quiet area and a 2.7-mile loop that includes the Homestead Trail and a stretch along Lake Michigan.
Mountain biking is not allowed on any of the park's trails but Nordic skiing is a popular activity in the winter. Hoffmaster maintains 3 miles of ski trails with a trailhead and parking, lot at the south end of the park road. The trail forms three loops through rolling to hilly terrain with runs rated for novice to advanced skiers. The trails are not groomed, nor is there a ski rental concession on site.
|Difficulty - Easy|
|Difficulty - Moderate|