The Land Conservancy of West Michigan , check out their website at http://naturenearby.org
Send them money if you have extra money just laying around. Many of their preserves are open to the public for hiking, exploring, wildflowering.
Here is a informative PDF map.
Of the twelve preserves listed on the Pdf, Marie and I had visited 11. We hadn't been to Lake Breeze so this is where we decided to go next. Lake Breeze Preserve is in Oceana County between Pentwater and Silver Lake State Park.
We didn't find a trail here so we just dove into the woods near the sign. The woods were quite open as far as ground growth so it was easy going. There were many fallen White Birch trees, we also saw Witch Hazel, deer, Oak, Maple, and Cherry trees, Sassafras, Bracken, Grapevine, fungi, blooming Wintergreen. Indian Pipe was up, Licorice was flowering, we heard frogs and crows.
Thirty-five acres are OK for wandering on, then there are 65 acres of conservation easement which you are NOT allowed to walk on. This was a bit of a problem since we had no map of the preserve or easement, so it was hard to know if we were legal. We did come to one "conservation easement - No Trespassing" sign but it was laying on the ground in pretty rough shape. We also saw a few blue paint marks on some trees but they didn't seem to be in any order.
It was a very hot and humid day for walking through the woods, and we did come across one orchid in a low wet wooded place.
I know, not the best pictures and it isn't actually blooming, or is it?
We spent about 90 minutes at Lake Breeze.
The stairs to the beach were inviting so down we go to the beach.Path to Lake Michigan at Cedar Point Park
Lake Michigan Shoreline
enticing too. Ok, after the beach and remember it is hot and humid, we sat in the van with A/C and had a bite to eat. Along on a nearby tree came a Pileated Woodpecker!
This is a long blog and I'm only half way through the day. Our next stop was a Golden Township Park, Round Lake Park.
Somewhat of a rough, steep two-track into the park. The park is at Round Lake. There is a gravel boat launch and a mowed space.
Round Lake at Golden Twp. Park
Again along the water and through the mowed area we found plenty of wildflowers blooming.
We spent 40 minutes checking this park out. Moving on, next to a nature preserve that we saw in the Michigan County Atlas by David M. Brown. I couldn't find info about it online so we weren't sure what we'd find. We are south of the Silver Lake Dunes area back on some one-lane dirt roads, a confusing maze, but eventually we found Memorial Nature Preserve.
Well it didn't say "No Trespassing" but the preserve is the effort of families who live in the area. So were we suppose to be here, I don't know. We did enjoy it.
There were marked trails with maps, and trees were identified with signs, nicely done.
After more than an hour here, I was getting a bit worn out, well it was hot and humid still. And can you believe we went and explored all these different places in one day! And we aren't done, we also stopped in at a favorite site, Park Road end beach. Check out the post from 2010, August, Lake Michigan Beach Fun, http://plantsamazeme.blogspot.com/2010/08/lake-michigan-beach-fun.html
Whiskey Creek meets Lake Michigan at the end of Park Road.
We found Sea Rocket blooming. This is the first time I have seen this plant, it has a thick, fleshiness to its stem and leaves not at all a wimpy plant.
It was a bit past prime, but a fun find.
We felt Lake Michigan and the water was remarkably cool on this very hot day.