Fun Things to Do at Berrien County Parks In Southwest Michigan

Filed under: Attractions,SW Region |

Berrien County, located in the southwest corner of Michgian,  offers 5 wonderful parks for visitors to enjoy.  Berrien County, just a quick step over the  state line from  Indiana and just a short drive from Illinois  is a  mecca for some wondrerful parks and recreations facilities   Berrien County Parks consist of  Galien River, Love Creek, Madeline Bertrand, Rocky  Gap and Silver Beach.  Activities  include Beach Volleyball, Birding, disc Golf, Fishing Access, Hiking Trails , Mountain  Biking, Nature Center, Picnicking,  Playgrounds and Swimming and,  in the winter, Cross Country Skiing.

In this post, we’ll be focusing  on everything Berrien County Parks have to offer.  First we will focus on each park   individually and then list out the top fun activities for each park.

Love Creek County Park

Location:

9228 Huckleberry Road
Berrien Center, MI 49102
Phone: 269.471.2617

Love Creek winds its way through   this rolling 150-acre natural area outside of Berrien Springs, Michigan. Six  miles of hiking  trails provide access to a variety of habitats, including a mature  Beech-Maple forest with spectacular spring wildflowers.

The Berrien County Parks  Commission’s naturalist service is based here and activities are available throughout the year.

Love Creek offers outstanding cross-country  skiing opportunities with groomed and lighted trails and ski rentals   available.

The new Fields &  Forests Bike Trail also provides cyclists with access to a 4.5 mile   beginning to intermediate level mountain bike trail from spring through fall.

Things to Do at Love Creek County Park

Hiking:

Love Creek features five miles of rolling trails through  old fields, areas of mature beech-maple forest and along the Love Creek Valley. Trail maps are available in the park offices.

Mountain Biking:

The new Fields &  Forests Bike Trail also provides cyclists with access to a 4.5 mile  beginning to intermediate level mountain bike trail from spring through fall.

Cross Country Skiing:

Love Creek  offers five  miles of open trails and challenging wooded slopes and turns. In addition to   tracks for “traditional” skiing, many trails at Love Creek include   a groomed lane for cross-country ski skating.

 

Madeline Bertrand County Park

Enjoy the  natural beauty along the St Joseph River at   Madeline Bertrand County Park  located   just south of Niles..

Trails lead through pine and oak   forests offering opportunities for hiking and bicycling.   Trails are groomed and lighted for cross-country skiing in winter and ski rentals are available. One of the park’s most   unique and popular features is a challenging 18-hole Disc  Golf course. Covered shelters, an indoor lodge, scenic picnic areas,  and children’s playground   structures make Bertrand a favorite location for family and group outings.

Things to do a Madeline Bertrand County Park

Hiking:

Madeline Bertrand features three miles of mostly level   trails through pine and oak forests and along the St. Joseph River.

Mountain Biking:

Mountain biking is also allowed on the Green Trail at Madeline Bertrand from May through October when conditions permit.

The Green Trail is approximately  2.2 miles in length and is shared with hikers.

Cyclists are required to ride in the direction of the green arrows on the trail signs. Cyclists are also   required to yield to hikers and should always anticipate that other trail   users may be present around blind corners.

The trail is a hard packed natural  surface that parallels the St. Joseph River and outlines the park perimeter.   The terrain is mostly flat with one narrow, downhill slope and a returning   uphill climb. With caution on these slopes, it is an ideal trail for a family cycling outing.

Playground:

Madeline  Bertrand offers a large play complex created from 100% recycled plastics.   The design includes multiple slides, bridges and ladders, as well as a sand  pit area. The structure is located on a cushioned surface for safety and is   within a short walking distance from the parking area, restrooms and other park facilities.

Disc Golf:

One of the most popular features  at Madeline Bertrand is a challenging disc golf course.

Disc golf is a game played with a   flying disc, or what many call a “frisbee.” Players make their first   throw from the tee area and then throw again from the spot where the disc lands. To make their final “putt,” players throw the disc into a   metal basket or “disc catcher.” Like traditional golf, the player  with the fewest number of strokes (or in this case, throws) wins. It’s an easy, fun, and affordable game for players of all age and skill levels!

The Madeline Bertrand disc golf course features 18 holes from spring through fall and 9 holes during the   winter. The course is open to all during regular park hours and is host to  several disc golf events each year.

While any disc can be used to play the game, golf discs are specifically designed for the sport. Some are  designed to curve left or right, while others are designed for long-range   drives or to maximize short range accuracy. Some players carry just one disc,  but many carry several in their disc golf bags. The disc golf pro shop in the  Visitor Center at Madeline Bertrand features a full line of golf discs and  accessories for sale – and you can also rent discs here!

Disc Golf Fees
Daily Disc Golf Pass: Adult $4.00, Youth* $3.00
Annual Disc Golf Permit: Adult $30.00, Youth* $20.00
Daily Disc Rental: Adult $1.00, Youth* $.50

Rocky Gap County Park

Overlooking Lake Michigan from a   bluff in Benton Township, Rocky Gap County Park provides a quiet place to  enjoy the Lake Michigan shoreline.

There’s a beach with 1,100 feet of  lake frontage, an overlook platform, and spectacular views of the lake. It is   an ideal location to take a relaxed lunch break, enjoy a sunset, or cool off  with a quick swim.

Things to Do Rocky Gap County Park:

Overlook Platform:  Come, relax and watch the spectacural view  of gorgeous Lake Michigan sunsets.

Swimming: Swimming is allowed at your own risk at Rocky Gap. There   are no lifeguards on duty.

Silver Beach County Park

Location:

101 Broad Street
St. Joseph, MI 49085
Phone: 269.982.0533

Located in St. Joseph at the mouth   of the St. Joseph River, Silver Beach County Park features a clean, wide   beach on Lake Michigan and public access to the South Pier.

It is a favorite destination for a  variety of beach and river front activities, ranging from swimming  and beach  volleyball to sunset strolls. Children’s playground  structures, barrier-free walkways, and the Shadowland  Pavilion (which can be reserved for family gatherings and other special events)  add to the many recreational opportunities available.

Things to Do at Silver Beach County Park:

Beach Volleyball:

Silver Beach has 16 sand volleyball courts available to park visitors on a first   come, first serve basis. All courts are located on level areas of beach and   offer exciting play. To help avoid stubbed toes and other injuries all courts   are cleaned twice a week with a mechanical beach cleaner.

Swimming:

Silver Beach  features a clean, wide sandy beach with a designated swimming area. The   swimming area is approximately 1600 feet long with a maximum depth of five   feet. Weather permitting, Lifeguards are on duty during the summer from 10:00   a.m. until 7:00 p.m. When Lifeguards are on duty, WATER SAFETY FLAGS are  posted at each Lifeguard tower.

Childrens Playground:

Silver Beach  offers three playground structures. One of these is designed for children   ages 2-5 and another is designed for children ages 5-12. Both are located on   a soft sand surface and include climbing rungs and slides. Older children can   also race each other on the popular “trac ride.”

The red and blue “boat”   play structure is located on a rubber-like cushioning surface that is   wheelchair accessible. Here children can imagine themselves a part of a   ship’s crew as they communicate through nautical talking and listening tubes!

Shade shelters and seating are  located for parents near all three structures.

Fishing Access:

The north parking lot and wheelchair accessible paved walkways at Silver Beach provide quick and easy access to the South Pier at the mouth of the St. Joseph River. This popular fishing location offers anglers access to shore and pier fishing opportunities. Examples of the types of fish typically caught here include lake perch, rainbow trout (steelhead), brown trout, coho salmon, chinook salmon, whitefish and catfish.

PLEASE NOTE: Public use of the South Pier is allowed at your own risk. The pier is a navigational structure maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Although access is provided by connecting walkways, when you are on the South Pier, you are no longer on Silver Beach County Park property. There are no Lifeguards or ring buoys on the Pier. Use caution and keep off of the pier during icy conditions, storms and high seas.

Shadowland Pavilion


Overlooking Lake Michigan and the mouth of the St. Joseph River, the  Shadowland Pavilion is an ideal location for a group   gathering during the warmer months. It can accommodate up to 160 people   seated at picnic tables and includes a charcoal grill and electrical outlets.   (It is also a great location for an outdoor concert!)

Special Summer Events at Silver  Beach

Saturday, July 14 – Smooth Jazz at Sunset with  Nelson Rangell

Sunday, July 15 – Southwest  Michigan Symphony Orchestra: The Music   Man

Saturday, July 21 – 97.5 Y-  Country SummerJam 2012 with Lee Brice

Sunday, July 22 – Lakeshore Christian Church at  Shadowland Pavilion

Saturday, August 4 – Latin   Taste & Rhythms Festival

Saturday, August 18 – Southwest   Michigan Symphony Orchestra: One  Vision – The Music of Queen

Shadowland Pavilion Weekend and Holiday: Resident $300 Non-Resident $350

Shadowland Pavilion Weekday:   Resident $125 Non-Resident $150

For more information or to make a   reservation, contact the Parks Commission’s administrative office at   269.983.7111, ext. 8435.

Galien River County Park

Galien River  County Park consists of 86 acres in New Buffalo Township to establish the  Galien River County Park Preserve. This undeveloped property includes a mix   of upland and wetland habitats along the Galien River. The wetland area is  particularly significant in that it is a part of the larger “New Buffalo   Marsh,” a Great Lakes marsh that formed along the Galien River just  upstream from the river’s mouth at Lake Michigan. Galien River County Park is   a work in progress with planned future developments including an Interpretive   Center, observation platforms and boardwalk trails in the wetlands and to the   river’s edge. All facilities will be designed to provide universal access.  Work is scheduled to begin in 2012.

Annual Pass and Permits

Annual Entrance Permits  are available and will admit the purchaser and all persons accompanying the purchaser   in a private, family-type, non-commercial vehicle to Berrien County Parks  locations where entrance fees are charged. These permits cost $35 and are  valid through December 31 of the year purchased.

A Special Deal! The cost of   an Annual Entrance Permit is discounted $5 when it is purchased with one or   more Season Ski Trail or Annual Disc Golf passes. (See below for more   information.)

Season Ski Trail Passes allow   unlimited skiing for the year purchased at Madeline Bertrand and Love Creek   (subject to trail conditions and park hours) and are available for $10 per   person for youths* and $15 per person for adults.

Annual Disc Golf Passes allow   unlimited disc golf play for the year purchased at Madeline Bertrand (subject   to park hours) and are available for $20 per person for youths* and $30.00   per person for adults.