A Gorgeous Michigan Coastal Nature Area Worth Exploring
If you’re looking for aquamarine-colored water, sweeping lake views, and a little privacy, we have a treat for you.
This is the place to find Petoskey Stones, beach glass, and other beautiful stones, all across the park’s 2,300 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline.
Magoon Creek Natural Area
Red Apple Road, Manistee, MI 49660
The hardest part of a visit to Magoon Creek Natural Area is deciding how to spend your time.
Will it be rockhounding, picnicking, swimming, or hiking? Maybe plan enough time to do it all!
This 97-acre Flier Township park is off the beaten path.
It’s typically less crowded than other Lake Michigan access points, which is suprising given the amazing views.
More visitor perks include free parking, a looped hiking or biking trail, and an accessible picnic area.
Picnic With a View
Magoon Creek is a great spot for an afternoon picnic.
Sitting atop a high bluff, you’ll find amazing views from plenty of picnic tables in the wooded area.
Picnicking under the deep evergreen canopy of towering hemlock trees adds to the magic of a visit to Magoon Creek.
Benches dot the high bluff, offering unparalleled views of Lake Michigan. It’s a great place to watch freighters go by.
The Manistee channel is visible to the north.
Several grills are available throughout the park, as well as a small pavilion.
If you need water during your visit, enjoy using the old-fashioned hand pump to pump it yourself!
Getting to the Beach
Before the beach fun can start, you need to be able to get to and from the beach.
Be aware that shoreline erosion has made it tricky to get down to the beach.
Eroded bluffs have gotten steeper even over the last year – I had to scramble up this steep trail using my hands to get back up the bluff.
Some visitors report that the beach is a little easier to access via adjacent Sundling Park at 2925 Red Apple Rd, Manistee, MI 49660, just north of Magoon Creek.
Once you’re down on the beach using the Magoon Creek pathways, head north to the creek outlet. You will likely have to wade around fallen trees. The creek is shallow, clear, and sparkling and a whole lot of fun for kids to splash in.
If you’re looking for rocks, head south once you land on the beach. You’ll be able to see high bluffs in the distance.
You’ll also likely see clay cliffs along the back of the beach. Kids love playing with clay just about as much as they like hunting for treasure rocks.
Rock lovers have reported finding all sorts of gems at Magoon Creek Beach, including:
- Petoskey Stones
- Beach Glass
When you visit, plan to stay for hours. Pack a cooler.
After visiting Magoon Creek, you might need to invest in a rock tumbler.
Pro tip: Wear water shoes and bring a bag for your rock finds.
(Also note: The 25-pound limit of rocks or minerals per person per year rule is in effect here.)
You’ll Be Surprised By How Quickly the View Changes on a Magoon Creek Hike
There’s a surprising amount of variety on the relatively short 1.5-mile hiking loop at Magoon Creek Natural Area.
When you make the trek you’ll pass through wooded upland areas, dunes, the shoreline, former farmland, and the marshy creek area.
At one point, you’ll even come upon the foundation of an old building on this mostly hard-packed trail.
The terrain is flat in places and somewhat steep in others, including a switchback. For more elevation info, see this topographic map of the park.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find a brochure in the mailbox at the trailhead parking area. The brochures correspond to numbered interpretive stations along the trail.
This park is somewhat accessible.
The northern parking lot has been paved and features an accessible picnic table and vault toilet.
The trail along the top of the bluff is relatively level, but does run downhill.
A wheelchair or stroller would not be able to make it down the bluff to the beach, however.
If You Go
Magoon Creek Park has two parking areas, both accessed by the same drive.
The parking area the north is improved and features the vault toilets and picnic tables.
The south parking area is packed earth and serves as an entrance to the hiking trails. Both trails are about equidistant from the beach entrance.
The park is open year-round but in winter the gate is locked. In that case, you may park at Red Apple Road gate and hike or snowshoe into the park.
Note: The area is open for hunting. Wear proper clothing for visibility during hunting season.
With so much to do in the Manistee area, you’re going to want to stay for more than just one day.
Why not make it a long weekend with one of these lodging options?
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