Located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Hoffmaster State Park is 1,200 acres of wooded sand dunes and 3 miles of sandy beach. The park is named for P.J. Hoffmaster, considered to be the founder of Michigan’s state parks system. Located just a few miles south of Muskegon, and 40 miles west of Grand Rapids, this park offers an outdoor reprieve where you can swing in your hammock under shady pine and hardwood forest, and enjoy pleasant lakeside strolls while peeping for migrating sparrows and hawks. One of the park’s must-do activities is climbing the winding wooden stairway to the Dunes Overlook for great views over the lake, and the fascinating dunes that have developed along the lakeshore.
Open from April to October, the campground at Hoffmaster State Park offers nearly 300 wooded tent and RV campsites on either side of Little Black Creek. Sites are equipped with electrical hookups, picnic tables, and fire pits; restrooms and water faucets are located throughout the campground area. Sites can accommodate trailers and RVs up to 50 feet; a dump station is available near the campground entrance. A kids’ playground is located near the creek, between the two camp areas, and there are two trailheads for accessing the beach. There are also several picnic areas and a concession stand inside the park. Dogs are permitted in the campground area and on the trails, but must remain leashed; they are not permitted on the swim beaches. Campsite rates range from $25–$37/night.
If you need a break from sunning and swimming on the beaches at Hoffmaster, you can visit the Gillette Visitor Center. You can learn about the park’s sand dune ecosystem, see exhibits about the park’s flora and fauna, or attend a nature program about native birds, bugs or beasts. The center also offers guided, interpretive bird walks, dune hikes and night prowls. If you’re ready to strike out on your own, pick up a trail map and start roaming the park’s 5 miles of hiking trails. On the 1-mile Dune Overlook Trail you can climb 100 stairs into the park’s “quiet area” for a panoramic view over the dunes and Lake Michigan. Bring your birding guide with you, as the park is known for a wide variety of residential and migrant songbirds and raptors.