Exploring the Rustic Trail

Exploring the Rustic Trail

The Hardy Dam Rustic Trail is just that: rustic, but in the best sense. This gem offers tree lined trails and picturesque views giving hikers of all abilities a sense of reconnecting with nature even for just a short time. For the first-time user, it is helpful to know to keep an eye out for the gated access road at Hardy Dam at East 36th Street as you begin your hike.

Start Your Adventure

Parking for this trail is simple, begin your adventure on the west side of the Dam across from Hardy Dam Marina and follow the sidewalk as if you were walking across the dam. You will come to an access road after the spillway, follow it down to a gate which provides a gap for entry to the trail. Watch for small signs directing you to the trail. A tree line leads to a gravel drive (approximately a half-mile), it is here the official trail begins. On your trek, be sure to take the extra time to walk down to the Muskegon River. At the base, you will find Hardy Dam, which was the largest earthen dam in the U.S. when it was built in 1931. This impressive structure still produces electricity and regulates the flow of the river.

Trail Features

While the trail offers steady elevations, it’s rustic nature cause it to be narrow or muddy in spots particularly after heavy rain, so bring your boots! Great views of the river can be seen along the trail in spring and fall. A summer hike provides thick forested foliage, offering a completely different feel to this popular trail. Along the trail you will encounter large picturesque creeks providing bridge crossings.

Gray diamonds mark the trail to keep you on course. An interpretive trail guide that corresponds to 26 markers is available at the trailhead, or can be downloaded at this link. In your travels, be sure to watch for number 12, an incredibly majestic red maple that is my personal favorite. The guide also shares information about the animals you may see along the way and their habitat. Great conversation starters to introduce young hikers to animals and the environment.

Until Next Time

Our one hour tour of the 2.75-mile Hardy Dam Rustic Trail concluded with a small loop, which then directed us back to the trail where we began, providing simple access to our vehicle. This trail proved to be well worth seeking out on a beautiful fall afternoon. I look forward to returning in the spring to explore the trail when the spring flowers bloom.


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About The Author

Wendy Sinicki

Wendy Sinicki has been checking out the trails, paths and scenic dirt roads in Newaygo County since she was looking for a way to tire out her kids when they were toddlers. They are now out of college and she has more time to explore, but instead of running, she just walks. When not outside, she enjoys writing and reading.