The rolling shores of Lake Michigan are defined by glittering sand dunes, but the Mount Baldhead dune near Oval Beach towers over the rest in Saugatuck. Those who choose to traverse to the summit of this dune are rewarded with panoramic views of Saugatuck and Douglas as well as the crystal blue water that seems to extend into infinity.
How to Get to Mount Baldhead
Mount Baldhead is nestled in a preserved area between the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan, so if you are interested in hiking the dune and visiting the Oval Beach area, you will want to take a hand-pulled chain ferry from Saugatuck across the river. Most people begin their hike in Mt. Baldhead Park, which is a 100-acre park located in the dune hills.
Once you have arrived at the park, you will see that your adventure begins with a climb. In order to get to the summit of Mount Baldhead, you will need to climb more than 300 steps on a wooden staircase that will lead you to the most incredible views in Allegan County. At the top of the stairs is an observation deck that was recently renovated and remodeled, and from there, you can soak up the views of the city, the lake and the river.
When you descend back down from the summit, you can continue exploring the area by hiking or biking along a one-mile loop trail. This trail winds around the grassy coastal dune area, allowing you to immerse yourself in the distinct landscape of the region. In addition to the trail, Mt. Baldhead Park also features picnic tables and restrooms, making this a convenient place to spend the day. You also may want to stop by the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Museum to learn a bit more about the communities in Allegan County and the important role that the dunes have played in the development of the area.
Nearby Oval Beach
After you have worked up a sweat hiking through the dunes, you are likely going to want to refresh yourself. Fortunately, one of the most beautiful beaches in Michigan — and perhaps even in the country — is located nearby Mount Baldhead. Oval Beach is considered to be the premier beach in Saugatuck, and it is favored not only by vacationers but also by local residents who use the beach all summer long.
Oval Beach is a family-friendly public beach in Saugatuck that is open from 9 a.m until 10 p.m. daily. There is an entrance fee to access the beach — a day pass costs $10 per vehicle and a season pass costs $50. The cost is worthwhile, however, because it goes toward maintaining the beach, and the result is a pristine beach with clean, soft sand, restrooms and concession stand.
It’s worth noting that there’s a strict no-dog policy at the beach, and visitors also are barred from bringing alcohol onto the grounds. The beach offers a relaxed and casual atmosphere, where most people spend their days relaxing in the sand, playing with their children, or splashing in the crisp, cool waters of Lake Michigan. It’s the ideal place to visit after experiencing the heights of Mount Baldhead.
More to Explore in Saugatuck
While the natural beauty of Allegan County is unparalleled, you would be missing out if you didn’t take time to explore the charming downtown area of Saugatuck. One of the best places to pick up a souvenir is Good Goods, which is an art gallery that specializes in handmade creations. For more than 30 years, people have been coming to Good Goods in order to view the work of more than 150 artists and find the perfect piece for their own homes. It’s also the ideal place to pick up a gift for that special someone who wasn’t able to make the trip to Saugatuck with you.
In addition to art galleries and boutiques, downtown Saugatuck is also home to many locally-owned restaurants. For a fine dining experience, you will want to check out Bowdie’s Chophouse, a steakhouse with a relaxed atmosphere and delicious food. For a more casual meal, head to The Southerner for fried chicken and a cozy meal at a well-loved kitchen table. Of course, no Michigan adventure is complete without ice cream, and the best place to grab a scoop in Saugatuck is Charlie’s Round the Corner Ice Cream shop.
Lodging Near Saugatuck
If you’re looking to extend your summer bucket list adventures in Saugatuck, here are some of the best places to stay a night or two:
- Captain’s Quarters Motel
- River Groove’ A Modern Dwelling in the Woods
- Judson Heath Colonial Inn
- Maplewood Hotel
- Stunning Lake View, Remodeled Home – New Furniture