This Windswept Natural Area Meets Lake Michigan in Breathtaking Ways
Antrim Creek Natural Area is off the beaten path. But, if you’re visiting Northern Michigan in the summer, you’re likely not far from this slice of heaven.
Nearby Torch Lake and more developed Lake Michigan beaches manage to attract more attention than Antrim Creek Natural Area, but perhaps that is what leaves this beauty unspoiled.
- 156 acres
- 2.3 miles of hiking trails
- one mile of primitive Lake Michigan shoreline
- Antrim Creek
LAKE MICHIGAN BEACH
This mile-long Lake Michigan beach was just made for stone skipping. There’s an abundance of flat, smooth pebbles at the ready.
If you’re like us, skipping stones will take up most of your time and result in lots of laughter and some pretty good skips. Definitely visit on a calm day if this is your goal.
The beach is sandy in spots. Pebbles are mixed in with the sand throughout, but the beach is mainly sandy on the southern end.
Stones for skipping were much more abundant on the northern end of the beach.
Petoskey stone hunting is also popular at Antrim Creek Natural Area. Show up after a storm has tossed the beach for a higher likelihood of finding one.
The southern end of the park has more sand dune features. This is what is looks like just off of the beach.
CREEK & TRAILS
The hiking trails mainly parallel Grand Traverse Bay with the exception of the trail following the swift-moving Antrim Creek at the south end of the park.
The creek’s waters are crystal clear and because it has a decent elevation drop, the water is fun to watch rushing by.
The longer trails at Antrim Creek Natural Area, the Nipissing Trail and Trillium Ridge Trail, parallel each other and take you through an incredible variety of growth, including conifer swamp, hardwood forest, and coastal dune.
One Park, Two Sections
Antrim Creek Natural Area is basically rectangular in shape, with the long sides of the rectangle following the Lake Michigan shoreline on Grand Traverse Bay.
It’s located at 9890 Old Dixie Hwy, Ellsworth, MI 49729.
Two entrances let visitors into Antrim Creek Natural Area: the North Entrance and the South Entrance.
Head to the North Entrance if you’re looking for easy beach access or to put in a small boat.
Visit the South Entrance to explore the creek and get to the section of the park featuring small dunes.
Both entrances access the trails and it is about a one-mile hike along trail or beach from access point to access point.
We chose to stick to the beach areas for the majority of our springtime visit – the flies had just hatched and were a nuisance on some trails (thankfully the creek trail was unaffected.)
Pit toilets are available and visitors are asked to follow these rules/directions.