On a dreary Saturday morning, My son David and I woke early and prepared for our 5 mile hike to the tip of Waugoshance Point and back.
I have to be honest, I expected to find a this section of Wilderness State Park a desolate landscape of clay and stone. Instead, we discovered a truly spectacular field of tall grass and wildflowers dotted with dense forest. We started our journey on a trail, but it ended about half way to the tip of Waugoshance Point. The trail was an ankle breaker, filled with large rocks deposited by the retreating glaciers.
When we neared the marsh, our attention turned to movement at our feet. I was expecting to see grasshoppers leaping across the trail and through the tall grass. Instead, we saw thousands of tiny frogs. When we reached one of the many ponds, David thought he saw a dog swimming along the shore. I assured him it wasn’t a dog, but likely a fox or beaver. Shore birds, blue herons, hawks, and eagles soared over head. David discovered a thick caterpillar on a leaf.
I heard stories that during WWII, Waugoshance Point was used as a testing range for bombers flying out of present-day Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City. I told David the story and we both kept a look out for signs of destruction. When we came across a metal frame, David thought it might be from a bombed out aircraft. I told him it was probably just the roll-cage of an old go-cart. He grabbed his iPhone and did a bit of research as we walked. He found a website that claimed that the frame is in fact from a WWII aircraft and that the Army Air Corps used it as a target during the war.
As we made our west towards the tip of the point, the fields transformed into marshes. We were forced north to the beaches. What a view. Looking east, the Mighty Mac rose above the forest. To the west we could make out both the White Shoals and the Waugoshance Lighthouses. The beaches were secluded. David wanted to swim, but the weather was a bit too chilly. So we continued our journey until, an hour later, we arrived at the tip of Waugoshance Point. If I didn’t have my camera, I would have been tempted to swim across the Big Cut to Temperance Island. But instead we turned back and made our way to the car.
Waugoshance Point is accessible by driving to the end of Waugoshance Point Road in Wilderness State Park. The hike is moderately simple, however the trails often end in marshes or just disappear, so be prepared to hike off-trail or along the beach. The beaches are beautiful and very secluded, so you may want to bring a bathing suit. The one thing I wished we have thought to bring was our binoculars to watch the surprising amount of wildlife.