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Michigan dnr > wildlife viewing guide > southern lower peninsula > hardy dam

76 Hardy Dam Nature Trail Southern Lower Peninsula
and Muskegon River 

wildlife viewing  |  directions and facility information

The raccoon is common throughout Michigan, and is easily
recognized by its distinctive "bandit" face markings.
Photo: David Kenyon, MI DNR

Old-growth hardwood forest with an excellent diversity of tree species is the primary setting for this nature trail along scenic Croton Pond below the Hardy Dam. Consumers Energy Company owns this land as well as a considerable amount of the Muskegon River riverfront from Big Rapids down past the Croton Dam. Most of this land is open to public use. Plan to visit Operator’s Village Park, located on the east side of the hydroelectric dam. The park boasts a picnic shelter, a 30-space parking lot, and vault toilets. Another completed improvement shortens the canoe portage path by moving it from the west side of the dam to the east side. Parking and fishing access for the areas below the dam have also been improved.

Wildlife Viewing

The careful observer has a good chance of seeing pileated woodpeckers along the trail. The mature forest here contains large, old trees that provide excellent feeding and nesting areas for these showy, crow-sized woodpeckers. Deer, wild turkeys, grouse, raccoons, otters, and porcupines also are common residents of this area. Bald eagles are seen frequently along the river, and they have nested along Croton Pond. Canoes make great platforms for viewing eagles and other wildlife. The Muskegon is a scenic, enjoyable river to float, and there are portages around all three dams. Rogers Dam, Consumers Energy’s third hydro plant on the Muskegon, is approximately 18 river miles upstream of Hardy Dam. To take full advantage of the lands open to the public in this area, contact the site owners below for further information, or go to Consumers Energy’s Web site, www.consumersenergy.com. Click on "Our Company." Then "Electric Operations" and scroll down to "Muskegon River Dams."

Portions of this area are open to public hunting. Contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the appropriate site owners for affected areas, hunting seasons, and regulations.


From White Cloud, drive south on M-37, 4.5 miles to 40th Street (USFS 5108). Turn left (east) and proceed 4.5 miles to a T. Turn left (north) and immediately turn right (east) onto 36th Street (USFS 5106). Continue about 2 miles to the parking area for the Hardy Dam Nature Trail.

Ownership: Consumers Energy Company (616) 738-3360

U.S. Forest Service (616) 745-4631

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (231) 856-4452.

Size: The Hardy Dam Trail area is approximately 120 acres. The Rogers, Hardy, and Croton Pond area of the Muskegon River is approximately 24 miles long.

Closest Towns: Croton, Oxbow

Weather and Driving Directions for Croton

Plan Your Trip with travel.michigan.org!

More information can be found by visiting the DNR's site (link leads to web app allowing users to search for campgrounds, harbors, trails and more), or by conducting a Google search:


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