Discover Spring Hiking in Southwest Michigan!

southwest michigan trial challenge

As winter gradually loosens its grip and nature awakens with renewed vigor, Southwest Michigan beckons outdoor enthusiasts to explore its stunning landscapes through invigorating hikes. With the arrival of spring, the region bursts into life. From magnificent Lake Michigan dunes to lush forests, Southwest Michigan promises unforgettable journeys for adventurers of all levels.

Let’s delve into the best hiking locations, sights to see, and essential tips for making the most of your spring hiking experience. Adventure awaits in this charming corner of the Great Lakes State.


Spring hiking in Southwest Michigan promises an array of captivating sights. From vibrant wildflowers carpeting the forest floor to migratory birds soaring overhead, every step offers a beautiful encounter with nature. Keep an eye out for trilliums, jack-in-the-pulpits, morel mushrooms, dogwood, and redbud blossoms. Listen for the trills and calls of redwing blackbirds, robins, warblers, seagulls, and spring peeper frogs as they herald the arrival of spring. Visit a railroad garden or hunt for sculptures.

The rhythmic lapping of waves against sandy beaches along the lakeshore provides a soothing soundtrack to accompany your hike. Challenge yourself and your hiking partners to a rigorous climb up giant dunes where you can see the incredible beauty of Lake Michigan for miles. Comb the shore for rocks, fossils, driftwood, and beach glass. Always make time to stay and watch a breathtaking sunset paint the sky in hues of gold and pink, casting a spell of enchantment over the landscape. It’s magical.

young family walking in the dunes male female child



Located along Lake Michigan’s southeastern shore, Warren Dunes State Park boasts some of the region’s highest dunes, dense woodlands, and panoramic Lake Michigan views. Trails wind through diverse ecosystems, offering insights into the ecological processes shaping the dunes. This state park is also one of Southwest Michigan’s favorite places to bring your leashed dog on marked trails and a designated beach.


Warren Woods State Park transforms into a wonderland each spring. It offers the unique opportunity to hike through Michigan’s last virgin beech-maple forest. April and May are the best months to see trilliums blanket the forest floor and to watch for migratory birds nesting in the tall trees. This wooded state park is an ideal spot for wildlife photography.


With its dunes, beaches, and quiet woodlands, Grand Mere State Park is a spring haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Lupines, violets, and wild geraniums cover the landscape. The park is also on an ancient migratory bird route so expect to see raptors, shorebirds, and songbirds as they wing their way north.


Harbor Shores Nature & Fitness Trail System offers 12 miles of urban hiking fun. The paved trails take you through the Harbor Shores Golf Course, along the Paw Paw River, Ox Creek, and the St. Joseph River, across wetlands, and up the dunes for a mesmerizing view of Lake Michigan and the historic North Pier Lighthouse.

The trail system’s six loops offer food and beverage destinations along the way and easy access to the Benton Harbor Arts District. If you hope to spot wildlife along the trails, the best times are in the early morning and evening.


This wonderful nature center has eight miles of trails meandering through its 1000 acres. Hike along the Paw Paw River bluffs for great views of the river valley below. Follow the boardwalks to observation platforms in the floodplain to see spring awakening in the wetlands. Watch for wildlife emerging from their habitats in the wet forests, cattail marshes, shrub carrs, and even a unique alkaline wetland called a fen. Sign up for guided birdwatching hikes to spot some of the over 300 bird species that call this preserve home. See it all without getting your feet wet!


Love Creek County Park features six miles of hiking trails that take you through a variety of habitats, including a mature beech-maple forest with spectacular spring wildflowers. Watch for white-tailed deer and their fawns, and bring binoculars and a bird guidebook or phone app to identify the numerous birds that flock to this 200-acre natural area.


This picturesque park is on the east bank of the St. Joseph River. Its mile-long loop trail goes through pine and oak forests to a river bluff observation tower. You can also walk playing the 18-hole disc golf course.


The Galien River County Park gets high ratings from foot and wheelchair hikers. First, choose between hiking on two wheelchair-accessible boardwalks or a non-ADA-approved dirt and gravel trail.

The 300-ft. canopy walkway is a thrill for all ages. The ADA-accessible boardwalk takes you above the treetops to a 60-ft.-high marsh overlook. Or hike a 600-ft.-long boardwalk to a fishing platform where you can catch steelhead, rock bass, largemouth bass, and freshwater drum.

From either boardwalk, you can spot turtles, waterfowl, deer, and other marshland animals. Your best time to see wildlife is early morning and early evening.

The third trail is a 1.4-mile loop through the woods, edged by steep ravines, to the wetlands and river. It is not ADA-accessible.


Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve is one of Southwest Michigan’s most treasured river hikes. It boasts meticulously curated gardens, wildflower-strewn woodlands, a pond, a water mill, a railroad garden, and St. Joseph River views. Spring blooms include daffodils, tulips, fragrant herbs, and wild cherry blossoms. Buzzing bees and flitting butterflies contribute to the ever-changing spring views.


A local favorite, Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve has three of the highest quality coastal plain marshes in Michigan, a rare find in the Great Lakes region. As you explore more than five miles of trails, you are likely to encounter reptiles and amphibians around the coastal plain marshes and small ponds. Watch for elusive mammals such as red fox, coyote, and many of the 100 bird species known to nest in the preserve’s shrubs and trees.

trails challenge model photoshoot sarett


Southwest Michigan has launched a new challenge to get you to lace up your boots and hit our gorgeous trails this spring. Download the Visit Southwest Michigan app to get started and play. Then visit five different trails in Southwest Michigan. Take a selfie by the trailhead and upload it to the app. The first 100 people to complete the challenge will earn prizes. Get all the Trails Challenge details here – then have fun!



Check the weather forecast and dress in layers. Pack essentials such as water, snacks, sunscreen, a cell phone, a basic first aid kit, a compass or GPS device, and a map from the trailhead or a copy of the Southwest Michigan Trail Guide.


Spring weather can bring unpredictable conditions such as mud, snowmelt, and swollen streams. Check trail conditions beforehand and be prepared for any obstacles you may encounter along the way.


Springtime is prime tick season, so take precautions to protect yourself from tick bites. They like shady, moist areas. Wear long sleeves and pants and use insect repellent containing DEET.

Stay on paved or well-groomed trails. Avoid contact with high grass, brush, and any ground that is covered with fallen leaves. Perform regular tick checks during and after your hike and remove them promptly if you find any on you, your children, or pets. For more advice, download this helpful guide.


Stick to designated trails to protect fragile ecosystems. Refrain from disturbing wildlife, especially spring babies. Leave no trace behind and dispose of trash and pet waste responsibly.

man walking through apple blossoms in springtime


After exploring one or more scenic trails, extend your stay. Discover the region’s arts and craft-beverage scene. Indulge in the culinary delights of local restaurants, savoring farm-to-table cuisine made with local, seasonal produce, delicious fish and meats, and mouthwatering artisanal desserts. Find the latest spring fashions and home decor in quaint downtowns and boutique shops. Take a sweetly scented blossomtime tour through our orchards and vineyards.

Stay over at one of our amenity-filled hotels with affordable spring rates. You will awaken relaxed and rejuvenated for more outdoor adventures tomorrow.

Book Your Stay

Most Romantic Things to Do Along the Michigan Beachtowns

Michigan Beachtowns Romantic Trip Ideas

If you are looking to plan a romantic getaway look no farther than the quaint and friendly towns along the Lake Michigan Beachtowns! We offer traditional wine & dine experiences along with some adventure, quiet time for just the two of you, and the most stunning sunsets you will ever see in your lifetime.

Michigan Beachtowns Hiking

Go for a Hike

The parks and trails along the Lake Michigan Beachtowns provide a romantic backdrop for a hike for two all year long. Muskegon State Park and PJ Hoffmaster State Park have miles of wooded trails and sand dunes over looking Lake Michigan and are dog friendly.  Hoffmaster’s trail system connects to the North Ottawa Dunes trails, the new Ottawa Sands Park, and the Kitchel-Lindquist Hartger Dune Preserve north of Grand Haven if you are looking for a longer hike. To experience something otherworldly, head to the Silver Lake State Park Pedestrian Dune Access area to see mountains of sand dunes and watch hundreds of ORVs fly through the trails. Climb to the top of Mount Pisgah in Holland for a stunning view of both Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan. For those who are not afraid of heights, the steep, wooden stairs of Mount Baldhead bring hikers to the top of a 794 foot overlook of Saugatuck. Black River Preserve in South Haven has easy-to-difficult hiking trails with a one mile frontage of the Black River and other area streams. Weko Beach & John DeeDee Howard Trail is the Saint Joseph area are great spots for a hike.

Spend a Day at the Beach Michigan Beachtowns Beaches

Pack a blanket, your favorite snacks & beverages, towels, chairs, some books & magazines, your headphones, sunglasses, and sunscreen and prepare yourself for a relaxing day for two. If you are looking for a day at the beach close to all of the action Silver Lake Beach, South Beach, Oval Beach, Holland State Park, Grand Haven State Park, Pere Marquette Beach, and Little Sable Lighthouse Beach are perfect for people watching and catching some rays. Looking for something a little more quiet? Muskegon State Park, Newcome Beach, Rosy Mound Natural Area, Tunnel Park, Grand Mere State Park, & Douglas Beach are for you! If you want to add in a little adventure, consider renting ORVs at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and finding a spot along Lake Michigan for the two of you. Learn more about all of the Michigan Beachtowns beaches here!

Visit a Vineyard or a Tasting Room

Cheers to spending time together at one of the many vineyards or wine & cider tasting rooms located along the Michigan Beachtowns. The Fox Barn Winery is the Silver Lake Sand Dunes-Hart area is a unique setting within a restored barn where you can taste their wines along with a ‘Barn Bites’ food board. 12 Corners Vineyards & Winery is located in Benton Harbor but they also have tasting rooms located in Grand Haven and South Haven. Oceana Winery & Vineyard is located in New Era between Silver Lake Sand Dunes & Muskegon but you can also try their wines at their tasting room downtown Muskegon. Fenn Valley Winery has been around since 1973. Their vineyard hosts tours throughout the year and they have a tasting room in Saugatuck. Virtue Cider is located on a working farm complete with tours, sheep, pigs, and chickens. Learn more about the Michigan Beachtowns Beverage Trail here!

Micihgan Beachtowns Paddle SportsPeddle & Paddle

Each of the Lake Michigan Beachtowns offer a variety of ways venture around the area by bike, by kayak, or by SUP. Bring your own or rent from many local rental companies by the hour, by the day, or by the week. The Michigan Beachtowns have hundreds of miles of biking paths and trails for the serious biker and those looking for a casual, scenic ride. While the big lake can be friendly to paddlers, the inland lakes and rivers offer up a relaxing day on the water without worrying about large waves. For the more adventurous paddlers, surf board rentals and lessons are available through Third Coast Surf Shop in Southwest Michigan or you can try Kiteboarding with the help of MacKite.

Listen to Live Music at a Brewery

Grab a tasting flight and cozy up together at one the Lake Michigan breweries. Our Brewing Company in downtown Holland is a nano-brewery and was founded by two couples and their motto is “Smaller on Purpose.” Saugatuck Brewing Company is the only brewery in Michigan to feature a Brew on Premise Program where you can work with their master brewers to create your own special beer. Oddside Ales in Grand Haven recently expanded its downtown taproom complete with garage doors that open up for alfresco drinking and dining. Unruly Brewing Company in downtown Muskegon is the first brewery to brew been in Muskegon since 1957 and offers an outdoor beer garden in the warmer months. Big Hart Brewing Company in Hart hosts live music, karaoke nights, and Trivia nights. Three Blondes Brewing was founded by 3 sisters who were born and raised in South Haven. During the winter months you can snuggle together in one of their igloos nicknamed the Blondomes. In the Saint Joseph area, pick up a free Makers Trail passport and start collecting stamps from more than 40 participating craft breweries, wineries, and distillers.

Discover Iconic LighthousesHolland Michigan Lighthouse

The most romantic times of the day to view and visit one of the Lake Michigan Beachtowns lighthouses is first thing in the morning or leading up to sunset. Walk the pier, beach, or nearby boardwalk hand-in-hand. Saint Joseph’s lighthouses are accessible from Tiscornia Park. South Haven’s lighthouse is a short walk from downtown via the boardwalk. Holland’s Big Red is best viewed from Holland State Park. Grand Haven’s lighthouses can be found where the boardwalk ends at Grand Haven State Park. Muskegon’s lighthouses keep guard over the Muskegon Lake channel. Little Sable Lighthouse is located at Silver Lake Sand Dunes State Park and is open for tours during the warmer months. Before your trip, join the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s Passport Program and collect stamps and stickers at each of the Beachtown lighthouses!

Share a Romantic Meal

Houndstooth Restaurant in Benton Harbor is a New American restaurant that was founded by two siblings and features a fine dining experience without the pretense. The menu ebbs with the season and with the culinary duo’s mood. Menu items include Blue Crab Dumplings, Roasted Chicken, and Creamsicle Poke Cake. Taste in downtown South Haven is a small plates restaurant and martini bar with items to share including sushi, sweet & spicy shrimp, a Michigan cheese plate, and signature martinis. Salt of the Earth in Fennville offers scratch cooking from fresh local ingredients. Their menu changes seasonally including their selection of entrees, shared plates, and wood fired pizza. Seventy-Six is located downtown Holland and serves up modern, American comfort food. They offer lunch & dinner along with changing list of modern cocktails like the Tequila ‘Mockingbird’ and a Winter Margarita with elderberry and pear puree. Noto’s at the Bil-Mar in Grand Haven has one of the most spectacular views of Lake Michigan you can find along the shoreline. Noto’s offers spins on Italian classics, wood fired pizzas, apps, and small plates. The Lake House on Muskegon Lake has a marina view and a menu fitting for a fine dining or casual dining experience. What’s not to love about Big Hart Brewing? They serve up their craft brews along with a large menu of small plates, burgers, sandwiches, and entrees.

Lake Michigan SunsetWatch the Sunset Over Lake Michigan

There is no better way to end a romantic day than with a breathtaking sunset over Lake Michigan. All of the Michigan Beachtown beaches offer stunning sunsets all year long. The ‘golden hour’ leading up to sunset provides the best lighting for romantic selfies.

Stay at a Charming Inn, Bed & Breakfast, Hotel, or Vacation Rental

There is quaint and romantic place for the two of you to stay no matter what season along the Lake Michigan Beachtowns. Check out the latest lodging and getaway specials here!

To learn more about all of the Lake Michigan Beachtowns, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter!

For more Michigan Beachtowns articles, visit our blog here!