Nestled just south of Grand Haven, DePersia South Highlands Nature Preserve offers a small pocket of natural beauty along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Forested dunes like the ones found at DePersia provide critical habitat for wildflowers, reptiles, and migratory birds.Read More
At a Glance
- Approximate Street Address: Hemlock Crossing Park, 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive, MI 49460
- The Pigeon River is a small river with a slower current that meanders through mostly forested banks in Ottawa County. It has been nicknamed the “turtle trail” because the abundance of turtles that are usually easy to spot on the river.
- River miles in this section – approximately 3.5 miles
- Float time is approximately 2 hours
- To learn more, visit the Hemlock Crossing website.
What to See
A popular stop along the Lakeshore Connector Path that spans the 20-mile stretch between Grand Haven and Holland, the overlook at Palomita Reserve rewards visitors with panoramic views of the marsh and frequent wildlife sightings. For those looking to get off the beaten path, a loop trail leads past forests, fields, and wetlands to the heart of the preserve.
Palomita Reserve protects the Great Lakes marsh at the mouth of Little Pigeon Creek. The marsh protects critical habitat for more than 70 species of birds, provides spawning areas for several species of Great Lakes fish, and improves Lake Michigan water quality by filtering out sediments and pollution generated upstream. The preserve supports more than 250 native plant species, including one that is threatened in Michigan.
The Land Conservancy is protecting the marsh by removing invasive species like oriental bittersweet, purple loosestrife, and narrow-leaved cattail that have become established near the road.
This area along Little Pigeon Creek was once a popular staging site for huge flocks of passenger pigeon. The effects of overhunting and the timber industry led to the unfortunate extinction of this bird by the end of the 19th century. “Palomita” is Italian for “little pigeon.” This property was donated to the Land Conservancy by the Sebasitan family in 1995 to preserve the spectacular natural area for generations to come.
Hemlock Crossing is an Ottawa County park, and it also hosts the county’s Nature Education Center established in 2010. Restrooms are available here, as well as at the DNR access at Pigeon Lake.
Several miles of trails for hiking are available at Hemlock Crossing, and the neighboring Pine Bend Park. US-31 is nearby for gas stations, and the park is located about halfway between Grand Haven and Holland.