10 miles – Sand Beach – Warren Dunes State Park, MI
*Unfortunately the Michigan DNR is no longer allowing fat bikes on the beach in Warren Dunes State Park. See the comment section below for the latest updates on this.
Highlights: 3 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan beach – Dunes up to 260 feet tall – An armed security force.
Trailhead: This ride starts in the day-use beach area at Warren Dunes State Park. This is one of the most popular Michigan State Parks with over 1 million visitors each summer. To handle all this traffic there are 5 big paved parking areas and 3 restroom buildings. In the middle building you will find a concession with food and souvenirs in season.
The Ride: Saddle up on your fat bike and try to blast through the soft sand out to the waterline. I have heard that on a clear day you can see the Chicago skyline floating on horizon straight to the west. Take a quick look and then hang a right and head up the beach.
The first 3 miles of this ride are in the State Park. Looking inland you will see several dunes that tower 200 feet or more above the Lake. When I was here the conditions were almost perfect with flat hard packed sand and calm wind.
Right after leaving the State Park you will come to a big painted concrete structure that I think is the base of an old water tower. This marks Weko Beach Park . This 40 acre park is operated by the city of Bridgman and looks like it would be a nice place to spend a day on the shores of Lake Michigan. It has a new beach house with restrooms and a food concession stand. There is also a 70 site modern campground here.
The next 2 miles are along a more developed section of beach. I was stopped several times by mostly nice cottage and homeowners to ask me more about the fat bike. It may be a good idea to do this ride earlier in the morning if you are here in July or August.
At about the 5 mile mark you come to a barricade of big steel poles that run out into the water about 150 feet. There is also a “Private Property” sign that lets you know that “THIS AREA IS PATROLLED BY AN ARMED SECURITY FORCE.” This is the start of the Cook Nuclear Energy Plant property. I think you could probably sneak your handle bars in between the poles, but I decided it would probably be best to turn around here.
If you are looking to put a few more miles on the fat tires, It looks like there is about another 10 miles of good beach riding to the south of Warren Dunes. I have not done this section yet. I decided to go to the north because it looks like it is all homes and cottages along this section. On the maps it looks like you should be able to make all the way to the channel in New Buffalo, MI.
Post Ride Beverage: After the ride It would be nice to kick back on the beach with a cooler, but unfortunately there are alcohol restrictions at Warren Dunes from March 1 to September 30. We were planning to visit Greenbush Brewing Company when we were here, but it didn’t work out. If you live in the area and have a recommendation please let us know in the comments below.
In the Area: The T.K. Lawless Mountain Bike Trail is just over an hour away from Warren Dunes in Vandalia, MI. It is a long drive, but this 10 miles of hard packed rolling and twisting single track that is worth the trip. See more at: http://www.mymichigantrips.com/warren-dunes-state-park-2013.html#TKLawlessPark
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