at Orchard Beach State Park
Orchard Beach State Park
This small state park is just north of the city of Manistee, on the Lake Michigan shore. Camping sites are closely packed, but practically on the shoreline (down a set of stairs). There is a set of loop trails for hiking or skiing.
Camping- 166 full hook-up sites. Current State Park rates apply. The sites are very close together but nicely shaded.
Hemlock-Beech Nature Trail
On the east side of M-110, across from the park entrance is a small dirt parking area where the trail begins and ends. This is points 1 and 8. It consists of a series of loops, and can also be used for skiing and snowshoeing. The sign says you can hike the trail in 30 minutes, but that is probably for the inner loop with interpretive signs. The outer loop can be walked in a half hour, but only if you move along briskly, which is not the point of a nature trail. Fall 2011- Some of the fallen trees have been cleared. There are many notable large trees throughout this youngish woods, which grew up and spread their limbs when the area was open.
Post #1 to #2, W to E, 0.3 mile, 10 minutes Take the trail directly behind the brown sign. It begins on a wood chip pathway, but quickly gives way to a natural surface, climbing gently through beech-hemlock forest with many maple. There are interpretive signs about tree species. Lots of spring wildflowers here. Come to the top of a rise and pass a very large beech tree that has recently fallen. You also have to curve left to get around some other trees that are down. In 0.2 miles you come to a fork. Take the right hand one (the left one goes to a private residence). You immediately find an interpretive sign about a large blow down in 1998. Go down a dip through the damage area working your way to the right around another newly fallen tree, make the turn to the south, and gently climb to point #2 where there is a bench. There is a small hemlock tree fallen right on this junction.
Post #2 to #3, N to S, 0.125 mile, 4 minutes Enter a small clearing with scrub oak and other saplings, climb gently and pass a huge maple tree with spreading limbs. There is a short path to it- it's hard to resist climbing it! Come to point #3.
Post #3 to #4, N to S, 0.14 mile, 5 minutes Climb gently and angle slightly to the right through mixed forest. There is an active oil well behind a fence to your left. Reach point #4. Note some large stones on your left blocking an old roadway.
1557 Post #4 to #5, E to W - inner loop, 0.3 mile, 7 minutes Climb gently through mixed conifers into an open field that is growing up in sumac with jackpine on your left. Pass a bench. There are 4x6 posts for trail markers through the field. Proceed down into a slight valley and back up again, through the field with scattered maples. Jog slightly right and left again, and pass over a slight rise. It is here that I saw the fox. Cross a service road and climb a slight hill through scattered trees and reach point #5.
Post #5 to #6, S to N, 0.2 mile, 5 minutes There is a bench not far from the post that looks out over the open valley between #4 and #5 from a high point. Trail follows the ridge through scattered trees. Pass a large jackpine, and angle northeast and enter the woods. Pass another bench with sort of a view of Lake Michigan, then curve left around a nice white birch. Reach point #6.
Post #6 to #7, N to S, 0.1 mile, 2 minutes Trail is level through jackpine, then descend and gently ascend again through more white birch.
Post #7 to #8, E to W, 0.1 mile, 2 minutes Follow small level ridge, pass through many white birch, pass a bench, and descend gently to the parking area.
Post #4 to #5, S then W then N - outer loop, 0.9 mile 20 minutes. Terrain is gently rolling, passing through bands of trees and open areas. Cross under a power line which turns south and now parallels the trail. Trail is in the edge of the trees, mostly white pine and oak. 1605 The trail makes an obvious right hand turn in about 12 minutes, across the power line cut. When the leaves are off there is a view of Manistee down the power line. Enter young maple woods and reach a bench. Begin turning back to the north in 5 minutes, and as you enter an open area the turn will be completed. The grassy area rises in a small hill on the right, and mowed trail continues straight ahead. Cross a faint old service road which climbs to some orange pipes. Trail climbs gradually through red pine, goes through another grassy valley. Note a large tulip tree on the right as you begin to leave that valley. Pass through mixed pines, and enter another more open valley crossing a two-track service road. Climb to point #5.
Post #2 to #7, E to W, 0.15 mile 4 minutes. This section can be tricky to follow through downed trees. Head slightly uphill angling right and pass a stand of three tall beeches. Enter scrubby brush on rolling terrain which leads into a short, but dark segment of hemlocks. Pass through section of older downed trees, including one very large tree to climb over. Note many woodpecker holes in dead wood and berry bushes in open areas. Continue to wander through beech and hemlock. Interpretive signs for oak and staghorn sumac. Reach point #7.
Post #3 to #6, E to W, 0.18 mile 5 minutes. Angle off to the right into white pine, climbing slightly through spruce. There are some white birch along this pathway. This trail wanders over small hills, cresting near point #6.
Access- from dirt parking area off paved MI-110
Fees- State Park sticker required for entry or to park at trail entrance
Restrictions- no bikes (rack at parking area), dogs must be on 6-foot leash State Park sticker required to park at trail entrance
Distance and time- the outer loop is a total of about 1.9 miles and might take 45 minutes.
Trail Markers- 4x6 weathered posts in grassy areas and occasionally elsewhere, otherwise obvious trail between junctions with numbers and maps
Condition of Marking- good
Treadway- natural surface, stable footing
Grades- flat to slightly rolling
Ecosystem- a variety of woods- beech, hemlock, maple, jackpine; open meadow areas on rolling hills; a large stand of white birch
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Oct 2011
Back to map
Skiing- The nature trails are open to skiing, but are not groomed. Parking may or may not be plowed, but there is usually space to park along the edge of the road.
Picnicking- day use area with pavillion at the north end of the park with picnic tables and grills
Playground- swings, slide, and jungle gym at the north end; swings and jungle gym near the east rest room; volleyball court at the north end; natural surfaces
Scenic Views- Lake Michigan
Historic Site- Michigan Historic Marker about the Great Fire of 1871 at the northwest end of the park.
Swimming- Lake Michigan beach
Handicap Accessibility- restrooms are accessible
Rest Rooms- Full rest rooms in summer
Potable Water- summer only
Access- paved park roads off paved MI-110
Fees- State Park sticker required for entry or to park at trail entrance
Restrictions- dogs must be leashed, other State Park rules apply
Seasonality- nature trail open all year
Ecosystem- Lake Michigan beach bluff, and wooded hills
Other points of interest- near the city of Manistee and Lake Bluff Audubon House
most recent date this info personally checked- April 2010
Additional Facilities- metal detecting allowed in certain areas
Maintained by- Michigan DNR