4 Best Fall Hikes in Saugatuck/Douglas
After months of soaking in the summer heat, the crisp air of fall can be refreshing, making it the perfect time to get outside and get active. Hiking is not only a great way to get moving, but it’s also a serene, unique way to tour our region, especially during the autumn months with the fall foliage in its full glory. Whether you’re a hiking pro or venturing out for the first time, there’s a trail for everyone on this list of four best fall hikes in Saugatuck/Douglas.
Tallmadge Woods Loop
The Tallmadge Woods Loop is a 1.6-mile loop starting and ending at the mouth of Ox-Bow School of Art. Park your car or get dropped off by the Interurban at the Mt. Baldhead parking lot on Park Street and walk north to the start of the trail. This quiet hike provides views of the Kalamazoo River and will take you along dune ridges, eventually leading to an overlook with views of Lake Michigan and Ox-Bow Lagoon. This trail is good for people of all skill levels, only gaining 219 feet of elevation, and is an excellent location for bird watching and wildlife.
Click here to download a map of Tallmadge Woods Loop.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
The most popular and well-known hiking location in Saugatuck/Douglas is the Dunes State Park, but just because it’s well-known doesn’t mean it shouldn’t make the list. This park encompasses 1,000 acres of land, including two and a half miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Take 138th Ave to the Felt Estate where you can get dropped off or park the car. With three trail heads, four distinct paths and 13 miles of trails, there’s lots of land to explore, worthy of multiple visits throughout the entire year. Winding through natural state park land, there are lots of trees to view fall foliage and wildlife to enjoy. Dogs are permitted on these trails as long as they are on-leash. While some sections of the trails can be challenging, each trail leads to a view of Lake Michigan at some point, a welcome reward for the hard work.
Click here to download a map of Saugatuck Dunes State Park.
Wade Memorial Nature Sanctuary Trail
Situated in Allegan County, this nature sanctuary sits just three miles east of downtown Saugatuck and encompasses 72 acres. A prime spot for birdwatching, this rectangular one-mile trail loop is flat and easy to navigate, perfect for hikers of all ages, abilities and interests. Another highlight of this trail is the Mesic northern forests, unique due to the acidic sandy soil and northern hardwood trees such as American Beech, Sugar Maples and other conifers. To get there, take Old Allegan Rd to 62nd street.
Click here to download a map of Wade Memorial Nature Sanctuary Trail.
Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area
If you want to see every type of geological and ecological feature Saugatuck/Douglas has to offer, Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area is the spot for you. This natural area is comprised of 173 acres of interdunal wetlands, Lake Michigan shore line, beach, marsh and plants and wildlife who live there, including some rare species. Because of the unique landscape of this area, dogs are not allowed, and hikers are asked to stay on the designated trail system to protect the dune and wetland ecosystems. This shorter hike is .83 miles long and does include hiking through sand, which can be difficult for some. To get there, head to Oval Beach, as the trail starts at the north end of the parking lot.
Click here to download a map of Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area.
Whatever trail you’re trekking this fall, be sure to respect the wildlife and rules that come with each respective area, and have fun – tag us on Instagram @SaugatuckDouglas. With so many trails to explore, book a night or two at one of our area’s unique vacation rental homes, boutique hotels, quaint Bed & Breakfasts or resorts to rest your head after a long day of outdoor goodness.