Ready for a long weekend and a quiet, out-of-the-way place to relax or log some calming beach time? The Ticker has found eight lesser-known parks and shorelines in the TC area that are perfect for escaping the crowds.
When Clinch Park and West End Beach are clogged with sun worshippers, savvy locals make a quick trip to East Bay Park. It offers everything you need to enjoy a summer day, including a playground, picnic tables and clean restrooms.
The TC Parks and Rec Department oversees two tiny parks with alphabetical names. “A” Park lies off Timberlane and Arrowhead Drives. At less than one-tenth of an acre, “C” Park is the city’s smallest park and is the only city park other than East Bay Park with direct access to East Grand Traverse Bay. For more info on city parks, click here.
A short drive north on Old Mission Peninsula are a pair of spots perfect for relaxing. The Pyatt Lake Nature Area features a hiking trail, boardwalks and two observation platforms overlooking pristine wetlands and offers an excellent opportunity to view one of the most botanically diverse areas in GT County. On the east shore is Haserot Beach Park. Popular with Old Mission locals, but largely unknown to visitors, it features a wonderful sandy beach on a protected bay, restrooms, picnic area, playground and boat launch.
One of Grand Traverse County’s least heralded parks is the Maple Bay Natural Area, a 450-acre property that straddles both sides of US-31 North toward Elk Rapids. The property is known for its beautiful sunflowers planted on both sides of the highway as well as wonderful hiking trails leading to a serene beach. A trail descends the bluff to sensitive dune zones, which are home to a number of endangered plant species. The trail is two miles round-trip. To learn more about county parks, click here.
Fifteen years ago Garfield Township had no parks at all, but now it boasts almost 500 acres of parkland in five scenic, though little-known, parks. One of the least visited is Miller Creek Nature Reserve, 66.5 acres tucked behind Office Depot and Aldi behind the bustling Grand Traverse Crossing on South Airport Road. It features hiking trails along Miller Creek, a tributary of the Boardman River. Hikers might want to check out another township site, Kids Creek Park, with 20 acres of former buffalo pasture that’s been transformed into a relaxing trail area tucked between the Great Wolf Lodge and Kohl’s west of US-31.
“There’s a fish pond there that’s been stocked and there are fishing decks. We’re inviting kids to come out and fish,” says Township Deputy Planner Brian Vandenbrand. “Youngsters, only, please.”