76 Hardy Dam Nature Trail
and Muskegon River
wildlife viewing |
directions and facility information
The raccoon is common throughout Michigan, and is
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.
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.