A parking area, picnic tables, and trailheads are located at the end of 138th Avenue. Trails lead from here south into the dedicated Natural Area and west 0.6 miles to the Lake Michigan beach.
What to See
Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a favorite of both resident and tourist nature enthusiasts, birdwatchers, and hikers. In the winter, visitors can enjoy the cross country ski trails. It is a day-use park with an expansive and quiet 2.5 mile strip of Lake Michigan shoreline and coastal dunes that vary from steep slopes to rolling hills.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park stretches for 2.5 miles along the pristine Lake Michigan coastline. The 300 acre natural area contains a sensitive coastal dune system and three endangered plant species.
In 2010, the nearly 300-acre natural area at Saugatuck Dunes State Park was renamed as the Patricia Birkholz Natural Area, in honor of the former state senator and long-time champion of conservation, particularly the Lake Michigan shoreline.
In the 1970s, a community coalition of concerned citizens came together with a goal of protecting this property that was once a seminary and then state prison and police office.
The Land Conservancy of West Michigan was intimately involved in that coalition who helped to protect the park. At the time, our organization was run entirely by volunteers and we were called the Natural Areas Conservancy of West Michigan (NACOWMI). Protecting Saugatuck Dunes State Park’s ecosystems was our first land protection project.