Social Hike at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area

Thursday, July 13, 2023
5:30 pm

Nothing says ‘summer’ like an evening on the beach at Lake Michigan! We will explore Pilgrim Haven’s wooded trails as a group – then please feel free to stay and watch the sunset on your own . . . the preserve stays open until dusk!


Make new hiking buddies!

Our social hikes are just as much about the talking as they are the walking — and are a great way to meet other people who also love nature.
Meet in the Pilgrim Haven Natural Area parking lot. After a brief introduction, we will begin the hike shortly after 5:30 pm.

The hike is free and there’s no need to register – but we ask that you do please fill out the contact form in person at the beginning of the hike.

What to Expect

♥  SWMLC staff and volunteer hike leader Pam Dalitz will lead a loose, casual walk along the trails. Participants are encouraged to go at their own pace and get into conversations, and it’s perfectly fine to leave whenever you want or need to. The guided hike will last approximately 60 minutes unless people want to go longer.

♥  Social hikes are fun for kids! They’re a great way for children to meet other people who also love to walk outdoors.

♥  Well-behaved dogs are welcome to come to social hikes! Please be sure to keep your four-footed friend on a short (6-foot) leash at all times for the comfort and safety of others. Dog waste must be collected and removed from the preserve, so be sure to bring along some poop bags.

♥  Pilgrim Haven’s beach is sandy in some years – in other years, it can be very rocky. These changeable conditions are due to winter storms interacting with underwater land contours. Please remember that visitors are allowed to collect a small number of rocks for study or as souvenirs but may not remove large quantities of rocks (such as 5-gallon buckets).

♥  There are pit toilets at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area.

♥  Consider bringing sunscreen if you’re prone to sunburn.

♥  Mosquitoes and ticks are a part of nature (they’re bird food!), so please be sure to bring your favorite insect repellant and consider tucking long pants into socks to discourage ticks. It’s wise to do a self-exam after spending time outdoors in warm seasons, so be sure to do a “tick check” when you get home!

♥ There is a concrete walk from the parking lot to the top of the beach; other trails are packed dirt or gravel. A wide, sturdy bridge crosses Dyckman Creek (please note: the bridge can be quite slippery when wet), leading to a large, open, grassy area where a chimney marks the site of the former Camp Pilgrim Haven’s dining hall. Other trails lead through quiet woods.

♥ Most trails are flat except for steep paths that lead to Lake Michigan overlooks. There are a few benches for resting. Some trails are single-file, some are wide enough for two people to walk next to each other.

♥ Trail surfaces are hard-packed dirt with occasional trip hazards such as roots and stones. They may be slippery in places if conditions are generally wet.

Approximate street address:
18th Ave., South Haven, MI  49090

42.35333257488178, -86.29459524867275

Pilgrim Haven Natural Area is located just north of Van Buren State Park.

From the Kalamazoo area:
Travel west on M-43 until you come to the intersection with CR 380 at Jericho Corners (look for the small brown Van Buren State Park sign and the small green South Haven Area Regional Airport sign.)

Turn left at the intersection and continue on CR 380 (aka 20th Ave.) for approximately 4.5 miles.

Turn right (north) onto Blue Star Highway, go about 0.6 mile, then take the left fork at the intersection with 77th Street.

Go about 0.3 mile, turn left (west) onto 18th Ave., travel another 1000 feet and look for the preserve entrance on the right.

Make new friends who share your love for walking in nature!

As a reminder: due to continued COVID risk, we ask that participants please:

  stay home if you feel ill, are exhibiting symptoms, or have had recent exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID.

  provide your name and number for contact tracing

  consider wearing a mask when in close contact with other participants.

Photography policy

Attendance at Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy programs and events constitutes consent to be photographed for use in print and electronic media. Images will not be identified using full names without written approval from the individual.

If you would prefer that your photo (or your children’s photo) not be used, please be sure to notify staff when you first arrive at the event. Thank you!

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