Beach tour: How high water changed West Michigan lakeshore

Rising Waters

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Summer at the lakeshore has looked a little different this year. 

Where there used to be long stairways to a sandy beach, there are now steps that disappear into the water. It’s been a little bit harder than usual to get your perfect spot on the beach, not due to large crowds, but due to a smaller beach area to spread out on. 

There are 42 public beaches in West Michigan. Some of them still have space, but four are closed entirely. Even Kruse Park, a dog park in Muskegon, has been shut down. 

In Douglas, the waves took out the stairs to Douglas Beach. The city is spending a quarter of a million dollars to install a seawall and rebuild stairs to the lake. 

Ottawa County estimates that it will spend $200,000 to deal with the rising waters. 

Most beaches are still open, even if there is less area. Pere Marquette Park Beach in Muskegon has plenty of room, along with Holland State Park. North Beach is South Haven isn’t too cramped, but South Beach has lost a lot of beach space. A barrier has been put up to keep the water from the city’s filtration plant. 

Crews install flood barriers near two water treatment facilities in South Haven on May 12, 2020. (Courtesy Tom Renner/ReportIt)

As the waters rise and the beaches erode, treasures and dangers are uncovered. Stairs that had been buried for over a decade have been unearthed again at Kirk Park. Parts of stairs with nails and screws still attached have also washed up on the beach, creating some hazards for people playing in the sand. 

>>Inside woodtv.com: Rising Waters

Needless to say, there are some extra challenges to deal with as you head to the beach this summer. Our team went to beaches up and down the lakeshore to see how much beach was left, as well as to get information about parking fees, restrooms and pets. You can find that information on our Lake Michigan Summer Beach Guide.

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