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Michigan's parks offer solace in era of social distancing

State parks are often the fist to fill with visitors as the weather improves making it difficult to social distance.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — A premiere hiking location in Muskegon County is P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Norton Shores. Friday nearly two-dozen vehicles were parked at the park's visitors center. 

With temperatures this weekend expected to reach 70 degrees popular parks are likely to be crowded making social distancing more difficult.

Two weeks ago Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore closed trail heads, parking lots, and picnic areas after visitors crowded on narrow hiking trials.

Most community likely have parks and hiking locations that are mostly undiscovered.

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan has a diverse list of sanctuaries and preserves with miles of trails to explore.

County parks often maintain a number of parks with unique trails. In Muskegon County there are six parks including two on the shore of Lake Michigan.

On Friday at Meinert County Park there were only five cars in the parking lot and plenty of space at the park to explore and social distance.

"If people maintain distance and be aware of those around them I think they'll be able to have a really good time," said Bob Lukens with the Muskegon County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Township parks are often under the radar and undiscovered by large crowds. 

Montague Township's Henderson Lake Nature Center offers a nearly one-mile hiking trail around a small but scenic lake. 

Muskegon County Health Officer Kathy Moore says if you do encounters others hiking on the same trail just move over.

"Stop and give everybody their distance," Moore said.

Many well-known bike trails like the Hart-Montague bike trail are likely to be crowded this weekend. The West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition has a list of 70 other bike trials to discover. 

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