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That's why a unique time - some say the best time - to visit this Ottawa County Park is spring or fall. With no people, no bugs and no August temperatures to tempt you into the water, you'll discover the rest of this natural area and it's a gem.
At 68 acres and with 2,000 feet of lake front, Kirk Park is not large. In fact, it's basically one dune. But it's a large dune that raises 160 feet above Lake Michigan and on its west side is covered in marram grasses. The rest of the dune is forested in beech, maple, oak and black cherry that are brilliant when peaking in fall colors. There is also a red pine plantation in the east side of the park and in the spring woodland wildflowers are profuse.
In 1986-87 high lake levels washed away part of Kirk Park's dune, leaving steep, open bluffs along the shoreline. To prevent further erosion of the dune and to stop the sand from continuing to shift inland, Ottawa County Parks built the trails, stairways, fencing and scenic overlooks that resulted in an intriguing 2-mile trail system over and around this towering hill of sand. The western half of the trail system is often referred to as the Dune Ridge Trail and the entire perimeter is a hike of less than 1.5 miles. Definitely kid’s stuff.
The southernmost segment of Kirk Park’s beach – segregated from the rest of the Lake Michigan shoreline with a fence – is an off-leash area for dogs. On the sandy beach or clean waters of this Great Lake dog owners can play and swim with Fido. The dog beach is a quarter-mile walk from the parking lot, ending with a long staircase.
|Difficulty - Easy|