Old Harbor Inn - South Haven, MI, 49090, United States

A Hidden Gem

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May 03, 2015

As a beachcomber,

(definition: a person who walks along beaches looking for things, such as seashells or other items that can be sold)

nothing is more thrilling than the first trip to a new beach. While North & South Beaches, along with the rest of the city beach access points, are great beaches for sunbathing, kiteboarding, and all kinds of fun in the sun, beachcombers prefer something a little off the beaten path.

Recently, the City of Glenn (located about 10 minutes North of South Haven on Bluestar Highway) opened a beach access point. I'd heard about the beach, but had yet to dig my toes into it's sand. I was told to expect a large, expansive beach. I was even told to check out the neighboring homes, some have bridges to cross the gullies and ravines! I wasn't, however, told how secluded the entrance to the Glenn Beach is.

After turning off of Bluestar at the only light in town, the road eventually forks, allowing you to leave the road, but remain on a paved surface, or continue on the road, which turns to dirt. Of course, any good beachbomber's paradise is found at the end of an old dirt road, so the dirt road it is!

Sometimes, the search to find the beach access is one of the most thrilling parts of venturing to a new lakeside treasure trove.

Traveling down the dirt road, beautiful homes dot the wooded landscape. This quiet neighborhood is full of children, so caution is a must when traveling down the narrow lane. As the drive progesses, homes with panoramic views, homes perched on the lip of the ravines that criss-cross the area, and, of course, homes with private bridges come into view. All the while, my eyes search for any sign of a new public beach. Alas, I missed it on the first trip through, but found it on the way back from the dead end of the dirt road!

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It's easy to miss, but there is a little set of stairs right off the road that lead down a sloped path to the beach. Parking is just before the stairs and is parallel to the road, but be sure not to block anyone's driveway. The path slopes towards the beach, following a creek that empties into Lake Michigan. On the banks of this creek, you will find the Glenn Ditch Yacht Club. While the club doesn't look to currently be accepting new members, it's a cute, tongue-in-cheek sight sure to make you smile.

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The path opens up onto a large plot of sand, the creek from the Glenn Ditch Yacht Club splitting the expanse in two. From what I had been told, I was expecting a large sandy beach. However, Mother Nature plays crazy tricks on the lakeshore during the cold, bitter winters. What was once a secluded, sandy spot is now a rocky retreat perfect for beach combers. After years of under-utilization, the beach has amassed a large collection of driftwood, my favorite thing to find washed ashore.

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Despite not having a sandy bed to walk on, I traversed the rocky landscape in search of the perfect photo op or some beach glass. Heading South, it looks like you could make it pretty far down the beach. As long as you're adventurous, and don't mind getting a little wet, you could theoretically make it all the way back to South Haven. Just be sure to not encroach upon anyone's private property.

For the record, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the public does have a right to walk along the water's edge, despite ownership claims. While the ruling stated that the "regular high-water line" is the boundary between privately owned land and publically accessible beach, another source states that 10-feet from the current water-line is more logical line. Either way, as long as you aren't lingering or venturing off the beach onto private property, you should be fine.

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Heading North, my trip ended quicker than I had anticipated. I came across what looked to be old concrete breakwaters that, evidently, used to sit upon a sandy band, but are now battered by the daily surf. Just beyond this is a nearly impassable pile of concrete and steel, which can make for a bit of a hazard. Be sure to tread lightly, as these concrete remnants sometimes hold sharp, rusty secrets.

Sidenote: I think I found my new favorite meditation spot.

Despite not finding a large, sandy beach, the Glenn Beach was a nice find to add to my collection of lesser-known access points. I came home with a few pieces of beach glass, a very large piece of tumbled timber, and a more peaceful inner-self, thanks to the simplicity of the crashing waves on the shore and having not a care in the world, other than to take it all in.