Here’s What’s Open at Mecosta County Parks

MECOSTA COUNTY – Today’s weather may not have you thinking of camping, but Mecosta County’s parks and recreation areas offer a variety of other activities for outdoor enthusiasts year-round.

Michigan’s Dragon Trail at Hardy Dam is a non-motorized, multi-use trail system located between Hardy Dam in Newaygo and Rogers Dam in Stanwood. The trail is open year-round for biking, hiking, running, and snowshoeing.

The trail can be accessed from Brower Park, 23056 Polk Road, Stanwood, and Davis Bridge Park, 22170 8 Mile Road, Stanwood.
Open sections include the Brower Loop from Section Four and all of Section Five from Brower Park to Davis Bridge, Park Superintendent Jeff Abel said.


“All other sections of the trail are currently closed due to freezing and thawing conditions, but should open in the next few weeks,” he said.

Trail users can follow Michigan’s Dragon Trail at Hardy Dam Facebook page for current trail conditions. For more information on the Dragon Trail and section maps, visit thedragon.us/the-dragon-trail/trail-map.

The White Pine Valley Recreation Area trail system near Paris is also open year-round, Abel said.

WPVRA is a 200-acre forested area with a well-developed network of non-motorized trails, which provides opportunities for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hunting.

The trail can be accessed using the parking lot near the Hatchery building, or just north of the Mecosta County Parks Administrative Office, 22250 Northland Drive, Paris.

SAILING AND FISHING

Boating and fishing can be a year-round activity for those brave enough to step out into the cold winter temperatures to have a go. Boaters and anglers can access Hardy Pond Reservoir at Davis Bridge Park and Brower Park.

“Davis Bridge Park and the Brower Park day-use area from the deep-water canal boat ramp entrance are open year-round,” Abel said. “Both parks offer boat ramps on Hardy Pond Reservoir, however, due to current low water conditions, these boat ramps are not usable at this time. We hope to have water levels at a usable state for boating by the last week of April when pike and walleye season opens for the year.

Both parks, however, offer inshore fishing opportunities, he said.

Davis Bridge Park is located on the Muskegon River and provides access to 18 miles of water on the Hardy Dam backwaters. It encompasses 20 acres, with 5000 feet of Muskegon River water frontage. The park offers opportunities for boating, fishing, picnicking, and wildlife viewing, but camping is not available.

Brower Park provides access to 18 miles of navigable water on the backwaters of Hardy Dam. The 280-acre park is forested, with 8,000 feet of river frontage and a sandy beach, with boat ramps available on the north and south shores.

Day-use passes for both parks are available from the park administration office. A day pass to Davis Bridge Park is $7 and to Brower Park is $10. Annual vehicle passes are also available for $35.

Water level updates will be posted on the Brower Park Facebook page throughout the spring, Abel said, and should be at normal levels by Memorial Day.

RUSTIC CAMPING

For the more adventurous, Haymarsh and Tubb’s Lake Rustic Campgrounds are currently open for camping. Rustic campsites do not have water or electricity hookups.

Tubbs Lake Campground is located within the Martiny Lake State Game Area operated by the Department of Natural Resources, and the campground is divided into two sections – Tubbs Mainland and Tubbs Island. Tubbs Mainland is at 16823 Birch Haven Drive, Mecosta, and Tubbs Island is at 17018 65th Ave., Mecosta.

With 33 rustic campsites available, the park offers opportunities for fishing and wildlife viewing, and is a great place to explore and relax. Campsites are first come, first served and do not take reservations, each with a picnic table and fire pit. Payments are accepted at the entrance to each camping section.

The parks are also open for daytime activities and boating.

Haymarsh Lake Campground, 20500 140th Ave., Big Rapids, is located in the DNR-managed Haymarsh Lake State Game Area and offers a wide range of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, including fishing, hunting, camping or just enjoying the scenic natural surroundings.

For the angler, it offers a variety of fish including northern pike, largemouth bass, crappie, perch, bluegill and pumpkinseed. For the hunter, it offers an abundance of deer, waterfowl and small game.

Haymarsh Campground has 19 rustic campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis, each with a picnic table and fire pit; reservations are not permitted. A group tent camping area is available by contacting the park administration office.

SEASONAL CAMPING

Brower Park will open for the camping season on April 29, offering 230 campsites and 10 cabins. All campsites are equipped with an electrical connection and a water connection, a picnic table and an outdoor fireplace.

The Lake Park, Merrill-Gorrel Park and Paris Park school sections will open for the camping season on May 6.

School Section Lake Veteran’s Park, 9003 90th Ave., Mecosta, offers a combination of history, nature and camping. It includes a large sandy swimming area, the historic fieldstone concession building and an original one-room schoolhouse. It offers 97 seasonal campsites and a family group camp.

Merrill-Gorrel Park, 3275 Evergreen, Sears, offers frontage on Merrill and Gorrel Lakes, each with a boat launch, swimming beach, playground equipment and picnic areas. It has 146 campsites and four cabins.

Paris Park, 22090 Northland Dr., Paris, is nestled under a canopy of trees with shaded picnic areas and trout ponds. Canoeing, kayaking, and sledding are all available from launch sites in the park. It also offers fishing, wooded hiking trails, picnic areas and camping, with 66 campsites, three cabins and two group campsites.

Reservations are now being taken for seasonal camping, as well as for the rental of campsites, cabins and lodges.

For more information on Mecosta County parks, reservations, and camping fees, visit mecostacountyparks.com.

About Patricia Kilgore

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