Hoffmaster State Park is one of Muskegon’s most beautiful state parks. Located on over 3 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, this park has tons of trails for hiking, places for picnics, and a beautiful campground as well. Open year round, this park has something for everyone!
Hiking the Trails
Hoffmaster is full of winding trails that take you through the woods and onto the beach. The full trail system offers 10 miles of hiking options through various wooded areas and sand dunes. Some of these trails are dirt trails and other areas include stairways to help make getting up the dune a little easier. Don’t let the climb intimidate you! There are many benches along the way to stop and rest and take in the sights. Once you make it to the top you will find yourself on an observation deck with a great view of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Due to being made of sand, the dunes at this park are ever changing, so the hike can vary a little each time you visit.
The Gillette Visitor Center
The Gillette Visitor Center offers an educational experience about the dunes, teaching visitors about how they were formed and the types of animals that call them home. They also raise money to create more attractions, raise awareness on erosion, and have great events for the community. During Thanksgiving they have a Turkey Trail Run, which is a 5K run through the trails. In 2014 they had over 135 participants at the race that came out to support the mission of this great organization!
Camping at the Campgrounds
The campgrounds at Hoffmaster State Park offer modern sites with public toilets and showers. With 297 sites ranging from small tent sites to large RV sites that can accommodate RVs up to 50’, you’re sure to find a site perfect for you. If you make your reservations online, you can view a map of available sites and pick out the one you want! This will allow you to evaluate things like restrooms proximity or the shape and size of each site.
The beach here is something most of us Michiganders take advantage of. Think fresh water with no sharks or jelly fish! The beaches are great for sunbathing, swimming, building sandcastles, walking/jogging, and watching the sunset. On your way to the beach or back to the car, you can take advantage of the public restrooms that also have a separate changing area. Located just outside the restroom are spigots where you can wash the sand off your feet before getting back in the car.
As you roam around Hoffmaster, whether on the trails or in the campground, you are bound to see some of the local wildlife. Not only will you see the usual squirrels and chipmunks, you may even see a deer or two. At Hoffmaster, there is also a pack of wild turkeys that call the woods home.
If you look up you will see a variety of birds in the trees. Hoffmaster is home to nearly 90 species of birds! You’ll find many different-colored birds ranging from birds that blend in with the trees such as a Bachman’s Sparrow, to birds that stand out such as a Blue Jay or a Cardinal. You will be sure to see plenty of Robins in the summer, as they are the state bird of Michigan.
Watch where you step, as you just might see a snake or two! Snakes that live in this area include the Blue Racer, Eastern Garter, and Grass Snakes! None are venomous snakes, so no need to be worried about them. They are actually much more afraid of you than you ever will be of them. The only venomous snake in MI is the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake and it is very rare that we even see them. In the event one is around, take comfort in knowing that these are a shy and lazy snake that would rather run from you than confront you. They spend most of their time hiding in holes made by other animals anyway. The few bites that happen to humans are generally because the person is trying to either pick them up or kill them. So respect any snake you see, look from a distance, and don’t try to handle them.
In the Winter
You can visit this park in the winter if you like winter camping or hiking. The trails here are great for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and with the height of the dunes, kids (and adults) love sledding here! Just be very careful if you plan to venture out onto the ice of Lake Michigan. It can change as far as thickness and may become brittle and unstable in some places.
Around the Town
Muskegon has a ton to offer if you’re looking to venture out of the campground! From an amusement park to submarine museums, there's something for everyone. And since Muskegon is a small town, you won’t have to go far to find it.
When at Hoffmaster, you will find yourself just 16 miles from Michigan’s largest amusement and water park! Michigan’s Adventure, owned by Cedar Point, has roller coasters, water slides, rides, and tons of games for a whole day of fun! Check our their website for more information!
Since you’re this close to Lake Michigan, check out some of the amazing ships that now call our shore home! The Milwaukee Clipper was a car ferry, but her history goes back much further. Built in 1904, before the Titanic, she was named Juniata and carried passengers between Buffalo, NY, and Duluth, MN! In 1936, she came to Lake Michigan! She was overhauled a few times and now sits, decommissioned, in our harbor here in Muskegon. Come check out this magnificent ship! You can find more information at the Milwaukee Clipper’s website.
Looking for US history? Muskegon has that too! Make a trip to the USS Silversides, a submarine used in WWII, for a tour! This sub completed 14 combat war patrols and sunk 23 major Japanese ships after the attack on Pearl Harbor! Once you hop off the sub you can check out the USCGC McLane. This Coast Guard ship was also in commission during WWII and holds 5 different medals for that war. Once you’ve seen both ships, head into the museum to learn more about the history of both ships as well as other ships and weapons used in WWII! Plan your visit at the USS Silversides Submarine Museum website!
Want more military marine history? Make your next stop the USS LST 393! This huge ship carried tanks from shore to shore across the ocean. This amazing ship made 30 trips to the beach of Normandy to deliver armed vehicles to soldiers. Once decommissioned, she spent some time as a car ferry between Muskegon and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since then this breathtaking ship has been turned into a veteran’s museum where you learn about some great history! Planning to be in town on a Friday night during the summer? You can catch a movie on deck! Check out their website for more information about the ship and the events offered!
Looking for other movie options? Go to the Cinema Carousel, where there's a carousel you can ride in the lobby, like the name implies! Looking for a more vintage movie experience? Check out the Ghetty 4 Drive-in Theater, one of the last few drive-ins in Michigan!
Pull up a barstool at one of Muskegon’s two breweries. You can visit Pigeon Hill Brewery and Unruly Brewery both in one night if you want. They’re located about a 5 minute walk from one another on the same street! As you’re walking from one to the other, be sure to take in our beautiful downtown area. You’ll find tons of shops including The Cheese Lady where you can buy great homemade cheese and wine!
There are more things to do in Muskegon than we have room to talk about! Come visit our great city and set up your rig or tent at Hoffmaster State Park. Dig in the sand, sunbathe while listening to the crashing of the waves, and relax! This is a great place for it!
Have you visited Hoffmaster State Park? What's your favorite thing about it? Tell us in the comments!