Ottawa County Parks Foundation - February Newsletter

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We generally think of parks as places to hike, bike, ski, and enjoy nature, but they are also places for people to meet and gather to celebrate their most special events. 

In honor of Valentine's Day, we're bringing you a couple of love stories...

Steve & Julie

Grand Ravines is a very special place for us because we’ve had so many great times there together with the dogs-- running, taking pictures, playing in the mud, and exploring the trails. The first time we went to the park and discovered the lodge and the covered bridge, we told each other that was where we wanted to get married. The lodge wasn’t available on our original wedding date, so we explored other options. Our planning for the wedding never felt complete until we decided to change the date in order to get married at the park. Now everything is coming together!

-- Steve Morrow

Steve & Julie


Joseph & Elizabeth

When Joseph proposed to Elizabeth at the top of the dune at North Beach Park, she responded with, "absolutely." The couple commemorated this memory with a bench to go in the very spot where Joseph proposed. The bench will be installed this spring. 

tunnel park bench



Special places to enjoy outdoors 

There are so many special places in your Ottawa County Parks to enjoy. In addition to the spots we mentioned above and others that are well known, like the panoramic view from Mt. Pisgah and the top of the dune at Tunnel Park, here are a couple of other ideas on how and where to enjoy the parks this season with your loved ones.

Explore the cross-country ski trails at Pigeon Creek Park after dark!

You can rent skis at the lodge until 6:30 pm and enjoy the lit paths until the lodge closes at 8 pm. If you have your own equipment, the lights are on until 10 pm. Photo by @caredw.

pigeon creek


Enjoy a spot off the beaten path, we suggest an open space!

Naturalist Guide Kristen Hintz shares a story about a visit to one of the county park's open spaces:

Just recently I visited Bur Oak Landing. It was one of those rare Michigan blue sky and sunshine winter days. As I walked the snow covered trail, I soaked up the peacefulness and solitude of the park. I sat down on a memorial bench overlooking the stream that ran through the ravine below. The view was beautiful and I enjoyed the company of the nearby Hemlock trees that often provide shelter for wildlife. The plaque on the bench was dedicated to Mr. Mike Cary. Not only was he a dedicated volunteer with Friends of Ottawa County Parks, but he was a wonderful man whom I had the privilege to know and work with at the Nature Education Center. As I sat on the bench and I enjoyed a few special moments in the company of Mike’s spirit. My day was blessed just as he blessed many of the people he connected with.  

bur oak landing

Brian, Kim, Regan, Reese and Reid of My Michigan Trips are from Holland, MI and enjoy parks all over the state. They recently visited Van Buren Dunes, another open space off the beaten path, for a quick snowshoe hike as a family. Photo by @mymichigantrips_com

van buren dunes


We talk a lot about providing the margin of excellence to our already wonderful park system. It's what makes our parks go from good to great. We use Grand Ravines as an example of the margin of excellence often because of the sheer generosity of the community to make the park what it is today - from amenities at the dog park to the renovation of the lodge, the construction of the overlook, the suspension bridge... 20% of the park was funded by private donors, but there are so many examples of generosity all over the county. 

Donors like you help provide the margin of excellence and make our parks places to make the most important memories.


A bit of history...

Below is an excerpt from the Grand Haven Tribune from Valentine's Day in 1898. 

Grand Haven Tribune Feb 14 1898

The wheelman was a group of local bicyclists who were also very interested in a bike trail along the Grand River that traveled east... sound familiar? We appreciate everyone who has "expressed themselves as willing to assist materially in the financial part of the undertaking" as we continue to build the Idema Explorers Trail connecting Grand Haven to Grand Rapids. 


Ways to LOVE your Ottawa County Parks... 

Become a volunteer and help care for the land you love. 

If you see a staff member, say thanks!

Tell a friend about the Ottawa County Parks Foundation and the work we do.

And of course, you can always show your love by making a donation.

Would you like to volunteer to support the Ottawa County Parks Foundation?
We want to hear from you! Please contact us with your interest so we can follow up with you.