Tag Archives: Lake Michigan-Huron

The Most Amazing Great Lakes Beaches


Minnesota – Singing Iona Beach on the North Shore of Lake Superior 

Minnesota's Iona Beach on Lake Superior's North Shore

Pink Rhyolite rock creates a beach about 300 yards long and seen from the Highway. The unique aspect that everyone finds amazing is the sound created by the waves upon the stones. When the waves break and crash over the smooth rocks, they make a tinkling or clinking sound as they re-settle before the next wave. The beach it a bit hard to find but many consider it a must stop when traveling on Lake Superior’s North Shore.

The 10-acre park is one of the Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas on Lake Superior. The beach is about 200 yards from a public access parking lot off US Hwy 61, north of Duluth. Look for a small sign saying ‘Twin Points Water’ access at mile marker 42. Just north of Gooseberry Falls, State Park.


Illinois – The North Avenue Beach of Chicago on Lake Michigan 

North Avenue Beach Chicago

It has been called an oasis in a concrete jungle. The North Avenue Beach marquee attraction is its massive 22,000-foot beach house that looks like an ocean liner. Located within Lincoln Park, this city beach offers a million dollar view of the Chicago skyline. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the shoreline. Grab an ice cream or sandwich at one of several food stands. Even get a swimsuit and sandals from apparel shops.

If you are tired of all the sand between your toes, you can explore the main park or check out the chimps in the Lincoln Park Zoo. If the weather turns, you can get out of the sun or rain at the nearby Chicago History Museum on North Clark Street.

 


Ontario Canada’s Grand Bend & Ipperwash Beaches on Lake Huron

Grand Bend Ontario Beach

This stretch of sand on the South shore of Lake Huron in the Grand Bend area is an experience to behold. The crowds tend to be young around Grand Bend and family oriented along Ipperwash beach. Regardless of where you end up, you can enjoy the beach, the dunes, the ice cream and the vibe. Since this stretch of beach is on the southeast shore visitors can enjoy some of the best sunsets in the region. Grand Bend is the quintessential vacationer town. Beach shops, pubs, restaurants, cottages and art galleries are a short walk away.

The Grand Bend Beach has been designated a Blue Flag Beach. This means it has been certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that the beach meets stringent environment and sustainability standards.


Ohio’s Headlands Beach State Park on Lake Erie

Headlands Beach Ohio

Headlands Beach State Park offers a mile-long natural sand beach on Lake Erie, the largest in Ohio. Visitors can swim, picnic and fish along a nearby break wall. There are trails run through the park along the shore, which date back to the Iroquois.

The park began in the early 1950’s when the state of Ohio began acquiring land to create a state park. The park opened in 1953 as Painesville Beach State Park and changed to Headlands Beach in 1955. In the 1960’s the beach area modernized with the addition of parking lots, concession buildings, restrooms, and changing booths. CNN’s Travel program named Headlands as one of the top 20 beaches in the United States.


Michigan – Saugatuck’s Oval Beach on Lake Michigan

Oval-Beach-Sagatuck

The Saugatuck community is known as a favorite get-a-way for those from Chicago, but the folks from Michigan love it too. Oval Beach is a large sandy, breezy beach with nearby dunes common along the Lake Michigan shore. Walk to the pier and around along the channel for a change of scenery. There is a concession stand for soft serve ice cream cones and drinks.

The best advice we got was to park at Mount Baldhead Park and walk up the narrow road to Oval Beach. Parking is $10/day.


Wisconsin’s North Beach at Racine on Lake Michigan

north-beach-racine

This famous beach is almost a half mile long on Lake Michigan’s western shore and rated #4 of the “51 Great American Beaches,”  by USA Today.  This 50-acre park also has the distinction of being rated as a Blue Wave Beach (The US version of the Blue Flag rating for environmental certification for beaches) This city beach has also been rated favorably by Parents Magazine and Midwest Living. 

Located in Racine, the beach experience rival’s Chicago’s with live music, volleyball, Kid’s Cove playground, kayak rentals, and food concessions.  The park is also friendly to those with disabilities with handicap ramps. 


Indiana – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan

West_Beach_at_Indiana_Dunes_National_Lakeshore

With views of the Chicago skyline on crisp clear days and large dunes, hiding remote enclaves and sections of beach this National Lakeshore is a taste of wilderness surrounded by urban and industrial growth. The lakeshore is also known as being a bird watcher paradise as flocks cross the area in migratory patterns extending into the northern Great Lakes. There are ten separate beaches within the large lakeshore park with West Beach, Mount Baldy and Portage Lakefront being the most popular.

Congress designated the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966. The park covers 15,000 acres and incorporates the Indiana Dunes State Park within its boundaries. Indiana continues to manage and charge a separate admission fee to the state park. The park is split in two by the Port of Indiana and several steel mills. 


New York – Sandy Island Beach State Park on Lake Ontario

Sandy Island Beach State Park

Long considered underrated in upstate New York this park is situated on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario thus offering with the prettiest sunsets. The park offers a sandy beach on Lake Ontario, with a bathhouse, picnic area, fishing, and bird watching. If you bring a small sailboat or kayak there is a car-top boat launch. The current high water levels of Lake Ontario are causing erosion and loss of sand of the main beach. The net effect is a narrow strip of beach. This phenomenon is happening in the entire Great Lakes region

The Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland System is a 17-mile shoreline, which extends along Lake Ontario. The dunes are similar to those found on Lake Michigan in Indiana and western Michigan and are the only large freshwater dunes site in the northeastern United States.


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A Look Back – 2012 Marina’s Scramble as Water Levels Dropped


We tend to focus on the here and now. However its great to step back and take a look at the recent past. Five years ago the entire Great Lakes was witness to low water levels not seen since 1964. Marina’s were dredging, boats were being damaged on shallow reefs not seen a generation and lake shipping was facing hard times.  There was serious concern on how far it would go and what would happen next.  Some credit the winter of 2014 with turning things around. With the lakes frozen over evaporation was minimized and the levels rebounded.  Here is a post from September 2012.


I got a voice mail early Monday morning from Hoy’s Saginaw Bay Marina in Caseville, “Mike, the wind was really blowing last night and we would like to get your sailboat out. It’s bouncing on the bottom.”  It was the last week in September and we usually try to squeeze one or two of the last day-sails in early October. However I had been monitoring the MichiganHuron lake levels an knew that we had a good chance of seeing a record low last seen in 1964. With a four foot draft we had already settled in the thick muck in our slip in August. I imagined our Catalina 27 hung fast and listing in the shallows. I called back, and Pete told me that they were looking to get all the sailboats out. I told him to go ahead and pull her out. I would see him on the weekend.

Low Water at Caseville Harbor

Pulling into the marina Melissa and I were shocked to see the boat yard full of boats on hard dock in late September. Over the week the Hoy’s crew managed to get all of the big Trawlers out and most of the “Sticks”. (Sailboats)  When we rolled in, there were two boats idling in what was left of the narrow channel waiting to be hauled out. We took a walk up toward the break wall of Caseville harbor and noticed the inner most red can channel buoy hard aground just outside the Huron Yacht Club. This is the mark where I drop our speed in order to not make a wake as we enter the inner harbor. We took shots around the break wall and back just outside the HYC which you can see here.


Channel Bouy Aground at Caseville Harbor
Channel Bouy Aground at Caseville Harbor

Caseville Harbor


The Official Account

The US Army Corps of Engineers noted that Lake Michigan-Huron is 12 inches lower than its level of a year ago. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are down 14, 15, and 10 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior is forecast to drop another 1 inch from its current level, while Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to fall another 2 inches. The Corps noted that as of now Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below chart datum. They are in record low territory. At this point we are wondering if we will be able to get “Trillium” back into the water next Spring.


Low Water Make Narrow Channel At Caseville Harbor
Low Water Make Narrow Channel At Caseville Harbor

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Video – Low Water Threaten to Cut Off Saginaw Bay Marinas


Low water levels in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan threaten shore marinas. This video shows the low water level south of Caseville as Beadle Bay Marina.

Michigan Marina’s Scramble to Get Boats Out as Water Levels Skirt Historic Lows


I got a voice mail early Monday morning from Hoy’s Saginaw Bay Marina in Caseville, “Mike, the wind was really blowing last night and we would like to get your sailboat out. It’s bouncing on the bottom.”  It was the last week in September and we usually try to squeeze one or two of the last day-sails in early October. However I had been monitoring the MichiganHuron lake levels an knew that we had a good chance of seeing a record low last seen in 1964. With a four foot draft we had already settled in the thick muck in our slip in August. I imagined our Catalina 27 hung fast and listing in the shallows. I called back, and Pete told me that they were looking to get all the sailboats out. I told him to go ahead and pull her out. I would see him on the weekend.

Caseville Harbor

Pulling into the marina Melissa and I were shocked to see the boat yard full of boats on hard dock in late September. Over the week the Hoy’s crew managed to get all of the big Trawlers out and most of the “Sticks”. (Sailboats)  When we rolled in, there were two boats idling in what was left of the narrow channel waiting to be hauled out. We took a walk up toward the break wall of Caseville harbor and noticed the inner most red can channel buoy hard aground just outside the Huron Yacht Club. This is the mark where I drop our speed in order to not make a wake as we enter the inner harbor. We took shots around the break wall and back just outside the HYC which you can see here.

The Official Account

The US Army Corps of Engineers noted that Lake Michigan-Huron is 12 inches lower than its level of a year ago. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are down 14, 15, and 10 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior is forecasted to drop another 1 inch from its current level, while Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to fall another 2 inches. The Corps noted that as of now Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below chart datum. They are in record low territory. At this point we are wondering if we will be able to get “Trillium” back into the water next Spring.